Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke, FBA (born 1963) is an historian and academic. She is professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London.

Joanna Bourke

Born1963 (age 56–57)
Blenheim, New Zealand
AwardsRonald Tress Prize (1993)
Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History (1998)
Wolfson History Prize (2000)
Fellow of the British Academy (2014)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Auckland
Australian National University
ThesisHusbandry to Housewifery: Rural Women and Development in Ireland, 1890–1914 (1989)
Academic work
InstitutionsBirkbeck, University of London
Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Australian National University
Main interestsSocial and cultural history
Violence and emotions
Modern warfare
Notable worksAn Intimate History of Killing (1999)


Born to Christian medical-missionary parents, Bourke was brought up in New Zealand, Zambia, Solomon Islands and Haiti.[1] She attended the University of Auckland, gaining a BA and Masters in History. She undertook her PhD at the Australian National University (ANU) and subsequently held academic posts at the ANU, Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Birkbeck, University of London.[2] Her primary affiliation is with Birkbeck, University of London, but she is also Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, London, and the Global Innovation Chair in the Centre for the Study of Violence at the University of Newcastle, NSW (Australia). She has joint British and New Zealand citizenship.

Bourke, who describes herself as a "socialist feminist",[3] has published 13 books and over 100 articles in academic journals or edited collections. Her books include ones on British, Irish, American, Australia, and Haitian history from the late eighteenth century to the present. They focus on topics such as women's history, gender, working-class culture, war and masculinity, the cultural history of fear, the history of rape, war art, pain, militarisation, the history of what it means to be human, and animal-human relations. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Turkish, and Greek. An Intimate History of Killing won the Wolfson Prize and the Fraenkel Prize. It was in the final shortlist for the W. H. Smith Literary Prize.

Bourke is frequent contributor to TV and radio, a blogger and tweeter, and a regular correspondent for newspapers and popular journals. Her 40-CD audio history of Britain, entitled "Eyewitness", won Gold for Best Audio Production for Volume 1910-19, Gold for Best Audio Production for Volume 1940-49, and Gold for the Most Original Audio for all 10 volumes. Social Media: @shme_bbk and @bourke_joanna.

Bourke lives in London. In 2014, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and social sciences.[4] She is the Principle Investigator for a Wellcome Trust project called SHaME or Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters, which explores the medical and psychiatric aspects of sexual violence. The project aims to move beyond shame to address this global health crisis. SHaME is an interdisciplinary research project, with PhD scholars, post-docs, a film-maker, visiting fellows and professors, and a public engagement and events organiser. SHaME spans both historical and contemporary, regional and global perspectives. It is committed to research and activism involving minoritised communities. As part of this project Bourke is writing one book on the medical and psychiatric aspects of sexual violence in the UK, US, Ireland, and Australasia (to be published by Oxford University Press), followed by another on the global history of sexual violence.

Selected worksEdit

  • Husbandry and Housewifery: Women, Economic Change and Housework in Ireland, 1890–1914, Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0198203853
  • Working-Class Cultures in Britain, 1890–1960: Gender, Class and Ethnicity, Routledge, 1994. ISBN 0415098971
  • Dismembering the Male: Men's Bodies, Britain and the Great War, Reaktion Press and University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN 9781861890351
  • An Intimate History of Killing: Face-to-Face Killing in Twentieth Century Warfare, Granta, 1999, (Won the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History for 1998 and the Wolfson Prize for Historical Writing in 2000) ISBN 0465007384
  • Eyewitness, Authentic Voices of the 20th Century, BBC Audiobooks, 2004
  • Fear: A Cultural History, Virago, 2006 (published by Shoemaker and Hoard in the US; shortlisted for Mind Book of the Year Award 2006 (UK)) ISBN 1844081567
  • Rape: A History from the 1860s to the Present, Virago, 2007 (published in the US as Rape: Sex, Violence, History, Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007, ISBN 9781593761141 )
  • What It Means To Be Human. Historical Reflections 1790 to the Present, Virago, 2011 (published by Counterpoint in the US)
  • The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers, Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN 9780199689439
  • Wounding the World: How Military Violence and War-Play Invade our Lives, Virago, 2014 (published in the US as Deep Violence: Military Violence, War Play, and the Social Life of Weapons, Counterpoint, 2015) ISBN 9780349004341
  • War and Art: A Visual History of Modern Conflict, Reaktion Books, 2017 ISBN 9781780238463


  1. ^ Bristol Festival of Ideas 2005 programme Archived 5 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine (.pdf file)
  2. ^ Granta biography page Archived 29 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine on Joanna Bourke
  3. ^ Eithne Farry "'Why aren't we more outraged?'", The Guardian, 5 October 2007. Retrieved on 7 October 2007.
  4. ^ "British Academy announces 42 new fellows". Times Higher Education. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.

External linksEdit