BiographyEd Beasley took his B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from Thurgood Marshall College of the University of California, San Diego, in 1985, and he stayed at UCSD for his M.A. (1989) and Ph.D. (1993) in Modern European History. He studies nineteenth-century England and the British Empire. He focuses on how Victorian writers and officials developed ever wider and more imperialistic ways of thinking in order to classify the overseas societies that they came into contact with. His first book, Empire as the Triumph of Theory: A Study of the Founders of the Colonial Society of 1868 (2004), surveyed a wide group of Victorians; his second book, Mid-Victorian Imperialists: British Gentlemen and the Empire of the Mind (2005), looked in greater depth at certain key intellectual circles -- those whose imperial thinking was informed by the researches of Alexis de Tocqueville in North America or archaeological research in Mesopotamia. His third book (The Victorian Reinvention of Race: New Racisms and the Problem of Grouping in the Human Sciences, 2010), looked at how Victorian social thinkers, in trying to divide the peoples of the world into manageable categories in order to understand them better, sometimes fall into the trap of setting up racial stereotypes. The book examined the thinking of Alexis de Tocqueville, Walter Bagehot, and Charles Darwin, among others, at a time in the mid-nineteenth century when racist ideas were becoming more common in Great Britain. Beasley's fourth book is examines Charles James Napier, a general who wanted left wing reform in the British Isles and who worked to keep the peace as army commander in the north of England during the early Chartist years. Then he conquered Sind, trying to extend the realm of freedom as he imagined it. But having conquered a country he learned some of the complexity of trying to run it. A few years later, as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, he advocated brokering an agreement with the hill peoples of Punjab. Instead a policy of burning their villages was inaugurated by the Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie. The burning of villages in this area continued on and off in the era of Winston Churchill, and it continues to this day, in the era of drones.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Victorian Imperialism, Racial Thought, City Life, Science, and Medicine
A native San Diegan, Ed Beasley took his academic degrees from the University of California campus in his home town. He is Professor of History at San Diego State University, where he has taught since 1994. He enjoys long daily urban walks. When he wants to be at the heart of things, he takes his walks in London, Mexico City, Washington D.C, or San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Beasley remains interested in Alexis de Tocqueville; in Darwinian thought and the Victorian scientific network; and in the last two centuries in the development of the libraries, the museums, the learned institutions, and the walkable neighborhoods of London and beyond.
By: Edward Beasley
See the review on the Chartist Ancestors Blog: '....the Chartist General is well worth a read both for what it adds to the story of the state and Chartism, and for the light it shines on Napier as an individual.'
By: Edward Beasley
The Chartist General has been reviewed by Michael Sanders in Social History (May 2018): 'The task Beasley sets himself in this impressively detailed study is to "reconcile the Good Napier with the Bad". His methodology combines extensive engagement with a wide range of sources and the exercise of "historical imagination to recapture the spirit of the time".... The Chartist General succeeds in its aim of showing the continuities between the Chartist and colonial phases of Napier’s career. It explains rather than excuses Napier’s choices and in this respect it demonstrates the advantages of the "historical imagination" as a methodological tool.'