About

Dr Ben Marsh grew up in Oxfordshire, completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge (Downing College), and subsequently taught at Brunel University (2001-2), the University of Oxford, where he was a Lecturer in Colonial & Revolutionary American History (2002-4), and the University of Stirling in Scotland (2004-14). He joined the School of History at Kent in September 2014. 

Between 2016-2018, Ben was the Director of Public Engagement for the Faculty of Humanities, a role intended to foster connections and collaborations between academics, their research, and wider audiences and communities beyond academia. He has featured on BBC Radio (latterly Witness, on Salem witchcraft and The History Hour, on the Donner Party), given talks and workshops to schools and history societies, and is working towards projects with museums and schools on the Age of Revolutions and the People's History of Kent. 

Within the University, Ben is an affiliate of the Centre for American Studies and the Centre for Heritage; he is also involved in work with colleagues in the Centre for the History of Colonialisms, Animal Studies, and the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. 

Research interests

Ben's main research interests are in the social and economic history of the Atlantic world c.1500-1820 and the settlement of early America, including gender and race history, the US South and slave societies, demography, the American Revolution, and, latterly, textile history. 

His first book, Georgia's Frontier Women, explained how women's lives and experiences were central to the history and evolution of the colony of Georgia between the 1730s and 1790s. 

He is currently nearing completion of a longstanding research project on attempts to cultivate silk in the Atlantic world, which explores the intersections between political economy, utopianism, textile and commodity history, migration, and colonialism – entitled Silk and the Atlantic World, c.1500-1840. Supported by an AHRC Research Fellowship in 2013 as well as smaller grants from the Pasold Textile Research Fund, the Carnegie Trust, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the project addresses why, how, and with what success different regions of the Americas took on the challenge of sericulture. Aspects of the research were recently recognised with the award of the Natalie Rothstein Prize by the Textile Society (2014), and Ben was featured as a consultant and guest on the 2013 BBC Radio 4 series Silk, presented by Steph McGovern. Ben's work on the topic featured in the international Enlightened Princesses exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art and Kensington Palace in 2017. 

Beyond Silk, Ben is working towards two projects

  • a microhistory of an episode of geophagy (clay eating) among a community of Lutherans on the Savannah River in the mid 18th century, whose medical and racial circumstances point to one of the earliest acute hookworm infestations documentable in North America
  • an exploration of the travails and rehabilitations of American loyalists during the Age of Revolutions. 

Ben has just completed co-editing a volume with Mike Rapport (University of Glasgow) on Understanding and Teaching the Age of Revolutions, which is part of the Harvey Goldberg Series and forthcoming with the University of Wisconsin Press. 

Teaching

Ben teaches on the Atlantic world, the American Revolution, and the rise of the United States.

Supervision

Ben would be happy to field any questions or explore any potential postgraduate research topics that relate to his areas of expertise. He currently has research students working on topics including loyalism in revolutionary Georgia, political identity in the Mississippi Territory, and textile exchange between whites and Indians in the Lower South.  

Professional

Beyond the University, Ben is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a committee member of the Historical Association (Canterbury), a member of the Canterbury Heritage Forum and sits on the Educational Committee of Waterloo200. He is leading a student ambassador scheme as part of Waterloo200’s educational legacy that brings exposure to schools, museums, and heritage partners with interests in the Age of Revolutions, c1775-1848.

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