My interest in Malthus was ignited by the stunning discovery that Australian Aboriginal people were not just included in the famous Essay on the Principle of Population, they were its starting point. In our book, Joyce Chaplin and I show how closely, if erroneously, native American, Aboriginal and Pacific island people and environments were assessed by the famous political economist. By analysing Malthus in the context of his contemporary colonial history, we reinterpret his Essay in terms of ‘new world’ land and people. There is much more Global Malthus to be uncovered, part of my Laureate Program commencing 2021.

Malthusian Moments: Introduction‘, The Historical Journal, 63, 1 (2019):1-13.

Malthus and China‘, The Historical Journal, 63, 1 (2019): 63-89.

Global Population

Population is a 360-degree problem: human fertility and mortality; food production and consumption; soil fertility and land-use; economy, ecology, and physiology; international relations and intimate relations; colonialism and ‘development’. Understanding how this was problematised in the past is a challenge – all a precursor to climate change crisis. My model for bringing it all together is to consider population as geopolitics, biopolitics and cosmopolitics folded together.

‘Population Planning for a Global Middle Class’, in The Global Bourgeoisie: The Rise of the Middle Classes in the Age of Empire (Princeton, 2019): 85-101.

Population Politics since 1750‘ in The Cambridge World History, Vol. 7 (Cambridge, 2015): 212-236.


Where did eugenics go?’ I have asked, a question about time as much as space, dispelling the idea that eugenics either vanished or went underground after World War II. Neither was the case, and I have tracked eugenics’ explicit transformation into social biology, into transhumanism, and into neo-liberal, choice-based assisted reproductive technologies. I eschew any obvious exposé history of eugenics, instead trying to understand how it flourished amongst progressivists, modernists, and reformers, and how, counterintuitively, anti-racists and anti-colonials sometimes also pursued eugenics. Eugenics needs to be understood within 20th-century conceptions of ‘freedom’ and ‘duty’, as much illiberal coercion.

World Population from Eugenics to Climate Change‘ in Reproduction: From Antiquity to the Present Day (Cambridge: 2018): 505-520.

‘Insanity and Immigration Restriction’ in Migration, Health, and Ethnicity in the Modern World (Palgrave: 2013): 14-35.