Ed 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