Welcome!

I am an assistant professor of history at UC Santa Cruz interested in the history of globalization, science, drugs, and the long-term impacts of technological change. My book The Age of Intoxication (University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming in Deember 2019) explores how drug users and sellers in the British and Portuguese empires helped to shape imperialism, global trade, and scientific practice in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Trained as a historian of the early modern era, I am currently branching out into more recent history with two book projects (one on experimental drugs in the Cold War, another on technology and magic) that both run into the twentieth century. Page proofs of my academic articles and book chapters can be found here.

In addition to my academic publications, I have contributed to The Paris Review DailyThe AtlanticSlate, Aeon, The Pacific StandardThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and Public Domain ReviewI continue to contribute, sporadically, to my history blog Res Obscura (2009-present). I was a co-founder of The Appendix, a journal of experimental and narrative history (2012-15).


Email: bebreen [at] ucsc [dot] edu

Twitter: @resobscura

CV: Available here (updated October 2019).


Short third person bio

Benjamin Breen is an assistant professor of history at UC Santa Cruz, where he teaches classes on early modern Europe, the history of science, environmental history, and world history. From July 2015 to January 2017 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University, and a lecturer in Columbia’s history department. He grew up in California and earned his PhD in history from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. He lives in Santa Cruz with Roya Pakzad.


Image credit: detail (with added animation) from an anonymous painting of a French drug storehouse, c. 1740. University R. Descartes in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Biological Sciences in Paris.