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History Professor awarded major book prize

Professor Frank Trentmann’s title Empire of Things won the 2018 Austrian Science Prize for the best book in the humanities, social sciences and cultural studies.

Professor Frank Trentmann from Birkbeck’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology has been awarded the 2018 Austrian Science Prize for the best book in the humanities, social sciences and cultural studies for Herrschaft Der Dinge, the German edition of his widely praised title Empire of Things.

Trentmann has been working at Birkbeck since 2000 and was made Professor of History in 2007, and his research is focused on the histories of consumption, energy, daily life and morality.

The prize was launched in 2007 by the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Research to recognise excellence in non-fiction writing. Professor Trentmann’s book was shortlisted for its category by a jury of experts, and won following a public vote across bookshops, libraries and on the prize’s website. He will be formally awarded his prize at a ceremony in Vienna this April.

Empire of Things explores patterns of consumption from the 15th century to the 21st and how what we consume has become a defining feature of our lives. A statement from the Ministry praised the book’s “extraordinarily rich, well-written global account of consumption and consumers covering several centuries, with extensively researched consumer-critical debates and anti-capitalist ideas.”

Professor Trentmann said: “It is always nice to win a prize for one’s work but to be recognised by both experts and the public makes the Austrian Science Prize a special honour.”

Empire of Things is available from Penguin Random House

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