I am an associate 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, 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’m currently working on two book projects (one on experimental drugs in the early Cold War, another on the entanglements between colonialism, technology, and magic between 1650 and 1950) that 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 Daily, The Atlantic, Slate, Aeon, The Pacific Standard, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Public Domain Review. I 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
CV: Available here (updated November 2020).
Short third person bio
Benjamin Breen is an associate 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.