The University of Southampton
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Dr John McAleer 

Lecturer in History, Convenor, World Ideologies

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Dr John McAleer is a Lecturer in History at the University of Southampton.

I am a historian of the British Empire. My work focuses on the British encounter and engagement with the wider world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, situating the history of empire in its global and maritime contexts. I am interested in the relationships, interactions and patterns of exchange created by the British Empire, and in assessing the impact of these experiences on both British and colonial societies.

Before joining the Department, I was Curator of Imperial and Maritime History at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. During my time at the museum, I worked on the development and delivery of two gallery projects, focusing on Atlantic and Indian Ocean history respectively. I continue to be interested in the role of material culture and museums in representing the history of empire.





Research interests

My research is directed towards understanding, assessing and evaluating Britain’s place in the wider world: the manifestation and impact of empire on British society and culture; its effect on ‘peripheral’ communities (and vice versa); its fundamentally entangled nature (geographically, politically, ethnically); and the nature of the relationship between science, material culture, exploration and empire.

At the moment, I am particularly interested in exploring the ways in which British networks and institutions, such as the East India Company, facilitated linkages and connections (scientific, strategic, military) in the wider Indian Ocean world. This work aims to problematise and re-evaluate notions of ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ by considering the British presence in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, especially the Cape of Good Hope, St Helena and Mauritius.

I also have a long-standing interest in the history of museums, collecting and their complex relationships with empire, both historically and today. One of my most recent projects – an edited collection entitled Curating Empire – brought together a series of case studies that used the medium of museums and collections to investigate how global connections, networks and experiences affected people in a range of societies.



Book Section(s)

I teach undergraduate courses on a range of themes: the history of the British Empire; exploration, science and empire; the history of museums, collections and collecting.

Currently, I offer the following modules:

I also contribute to:

I would welcome enquiries from prospective students interested in pursuing postgraduate research on aspects of British Imperial and Maritime History (especially relating to Africa, Asia and the Pacific), the history of European exploration, and the history of museums.


Dr John McAleer
Building 65 Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom Facsimile: (023) 8059 3458 Email:

Room Number: 65/2043

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