Edward William Cavanagh is an academic historian, currently the Isaac Newton Research Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge. He is also a Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law. He primarily specializes in world history (1494-1914), the history of legal and political thought (1100-1914), and the history of European imperialism (1492-1914), with particular regional interests in North America, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Asia-Pacific. He is especially interested in the creation of empires and colonies in late medieval and modern periods (ca. 1300-1920). He is also interested in the history of the English common law and the history of private international law, with a burgeoning interest in corporations, contracts, and property across jurisdictions. His ongoing project explores how European companies instigated the earliest (and most legally onerous) acts of dispossession and acquisition across the non-European world – and how all of this was rationalised in modern political thought and international law – from the late sixteenth century to the early twentieth century. Prior to this, Edward has researched – and published extensively – on the history of southern Africa, all the while championing a comparative approach to the global history of settler colonialism.
Between 2012 and 2015, he was the first ever Trillium Foundation Scholar to be hosted by the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa. His PhD thesis, an exploration of legal history and political thought concerning European posturing towards the rest of the world during the early modern period, was nominated for a prize – the highest accolade offered by the university. In 2015, he held a Visiting Fellowship at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge. In 2014, he was a Summer Scholar at the National Library of Australia, and he held a Visiting Fellowship at Universität Basel's Institute for European Global Studies. For 2013-4, he was also awarded the R. Roy McMurtry Fellowship for Canadian Legal History.
Edward has published two scholarly monographs, a number of articles in the fields of history and law, and occasionally tries his hand at freelance journalism. He was one of the founding editors of Settler Colonial Studies, and is the co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of the History of Settler Colonialism. Until recently, he offered sessional course instruction in the Department of History at the University of Ottawa. He has been invited to deliver lectures on his research in Switzerland, Canada, Australia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. Additionally, he has appeared and given papers at a number of conferences and seminars.
He aspires to be a dog-owner.
Photo by Marc Brigden.