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School of History

Dr David Veevers

David

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Email: d.veevers@qmul.ac.uk

Profile

I joined the School of History at Queen Mary as a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in 2018. Previously I held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Kent, where I also completed my PhD in 2015. At Queen Mary I am investigating the resilience and adaptability of Asian constitutional environments in the early modern period (1500 – 1800), and the way they responded to the emergence of European communities and colonies in their regions.

Undergraduate Teaching

HST4604 – Global Encounters: Conquest and Culture in World History

HST5226 – The ‘Honourable Company’: The Worlds of the English East India Company, 1600 - 1765

Research

Research Interests:

My main areas of research are the European East India Companies, South and Southeast Asia, colonialism, the early modern world, and global history more broadly.

My PhD explored the decentred nature of early modern empire and the role informal networks played in shaping the origins of the colonial state in Asia. In 2016 I joined a £1m Leverhulme Trust funded 5 year project at the University of Kent as a Postdoctoral Fellow, exploring the role trading companies played in the formation of the English constitution in the seventeenth century. Joining Queen Mary in 2018, I am undertaking a 3 year research project on the formation and characteristics of early modern Asian constitutional frameworks, and their responsiveness to the presence of European colonies and communities.

My first monograph was published in 2020 with Cambridge University Press. The Origins of the British Empire in Asia, 1600 – 1750 emphasises the Asian genesis of empire, and brings to light the way in which the English East India Company had to integrate itself into more powerful Asian states and societies in order to flourish and succeed.  Shifting our attention away from Europe and a European perspective, the book makes a strong case for privileging Asian agency and local contexts in understanding the Company’s development.

My new book, The Mirage of Empire: A New History of the World at the Dawn of British Expansion, will be forthcoming with Penguin in 2023. It depicts the crucial three centuries between 1500 and 1800 which make up the early modern world not as a period of Britain’s unstoppable expansion and the emergence of what the Victorians like to boast was an empire upon which ‘the sun never sets’, but rather as a culturally rich and politically diverse world made up of ambitious Asian superpowers, dazzlingly rich West African kingdoms, and expansive Native American chiefdoms. It takes the complex and dynamic societies and cultures of this early modern world on their own terms: not as inevitable victims of colonial conquest, but as powerful historical actors in their own right, capable not just of resisting British expansion, but of profoundly reshaping it according to their own interests and needs.

Publications

Books

  • The Mirage of Empire: A New History of the World at the Dawn of British Expansion (Ebury - PenguinRandomHouse, forthcoming 2023)
  • The Origins of the British Empire in Asia, 1600 – 1750 (Cambridge University Press, 2020)
  • With William Pettigrew, eds., The Corporation as a Protagonist in Global History, 1550 – 1750 (Brill, Open Access, 2018)

Journal Articles

  • ‘Building Borders in a Borderless Land: English Colonialism and the Alam Minangkabau of Sumatra, 1680 – 1730’, Journal of the British Academy, Vol. 9, Series 4, (Open Access, forthcoming 2021), pp. 58 – 89
  • With William A. Pettigrew, ‘Trading Companies and Business Diplomacy in the Early Modern World’, Diplomatica: A Journal of Diplomacy and Society, Issue 2:1 (May, 2020)
  • '"Inhabitants of the Universe”: Global Families, Kinship Networks and the Formation of the Early Modern Colonial State in Asia’, Journal of Global History, vol. 10, no. 1 (2015), pp. 99 – 121
  • '"The Company as their Lords and the Deputy as a Great Rajah": Imperial Expansion and the English East India Company on the West Coast of Sumatra, 1685 – 1730', Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 41, no. 5 (2013), pp. 687 – 709

Book chapters

  • ‘Introduction’, in Pettigrew and Veevers, The Corporation as a Protagonist in Global History, 1550 – 1750 (Brill, OA, 2018)
  • ‘Gender’, in Pettigrew and Veevers, The Corporation as a Protagonist in Global History, 1550 – 1750 (Brill, 2018)
  • ‘The Contested-State: Political Authority and the Decentred Foundations of the Early Modern Colonial State in Asia’, in Mahesh Gopalan and William Pettigrew, eds., The East India Company: Essays on Anglo-Indian Connection (Routledge, 2016), pp. 175 – 192

Commissioned pieces

  • ‘Let the Statues Fall’, The World Today Magazine, December/January Issue, 2020/21
  • ‘Before Empire’, History Today, October Issue, 2020