Robert Fletcher is Professor of History and Kinder Professor of British History at the University of Missouri. His work explores the history of Britain and its empire in the modern period, and the interplay of national, transnational, and global histories. He grew up in East Anglia and read Modern History at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He lived in Tokushima, Japan, before returning to Oxford to complete his doctoral studies. He has previously held positions as the Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Global History at Oxford, Lecturer in Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter, and Reader in the History of Britain and Empire at the University of Warwick.
Professor Fletcher’s research on the history of Britain’s empire is wide-ranging, and has appeared in Past and Present, The English Historical Review, Journal of Historical Geography, and Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. He is the author of British Imperialism and ‘The Tribal Question’: Desert Administration and Nomadic Societies in the Middle East, 1919-1936 (Oxford University Press, 2015), which told the story of what happened when the British empire and Bedouin communities met on the desert frontiers between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. His second book, The Ghost of Namamugi: Charles Lenox Richardson and the Anglo-Satsuma War (Amsterdam University Press, 2019) provided an examination of mercantile ambition and imperial power in Shanghai and Yokohama in the mid-nineteenth century.
Professor Fletcher has been the Principal Investigator on a number of research projects supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, including a Science in Culture award on the international campaign against the desert locust in the twentieth century. In conducting his research, he has collaborated with a number of museums and public organisations in the UK, Europe, and Australia. His current book project examines Britain’s historic relationship with the world’s desert environments.
- British Imperialism and 'The Tribal Question': Desert Administration and Nomadic Societies in the Middle East, 1919-1936
(Oxford University Press, 2015).
- The Ghost of Namamugi: Charles Lenox Richardson and the Anglo-Satsuma War
(Amsterdam University Press, 2019).
- Chronicling Westerners in Nineteenth-Century East Asia: Lives, Linkages and Imperial Connections
(Bloomsbury, 2022). Edited with Robert Hellyer.
- Connected Empires, Connected Worlds: essays in honour of John Darwin
(Routledge, 2022). Edited with Benjamin Mountford and Simon J. Potter.
- 'The Bedouin, the State, and Statelessness: Mobility, Identity and Resilience', in Stateless Histories (www.statelesshistories.org), 2022 - edited by Jennifer Dueck and Laura Robson.
- 'When Nomads Flee: "raider", "rebel" and "refugee" in southern Iraq, 1917-1930'
in R. Oztan and J. Tejel (eds.), Regimes of Mobility: Borders and State Formation in the Middle East, 1918-1946 (Edinburgh University Press, 2022).
- 'The China of Tomorrow: Japan and the Limits of Victorian Expansion'
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 47, No. 5 (2019), pp. 851-883.
- 'Making Connections: John Darwin and his Histories of Empire'
Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 47, No. 5 (2019), pp. 801-814. With B. Mountford and S.J. Potter.
- 'Decolonization and the Arid World'
in M. Thomas and A. Thompson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire (Oxford University Press, 2018).
- 'The Locust, the Empire and the Museum'
Evolve, Vol. 31 (2017), pp. 46-53.
- '"Between the Devil of the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea": Re-orienting Kuwait, c.1900-1940'
Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 50 (Oct. 2015), pp. 51-65.
- 'The ʿAmārāt, their Sheikh, and the Colonial State: Patronage and Politics in a Partitioned Middle East'
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Vol. 58, No. 1-2 (May), 2015).
- ‘Running the Corridor: Nomadic Societies and Imperial Rule in the Interwar Syrian Desert’
Past and Present, Vol. 220, No. 1 (Aug., 2013), pp. 185-215.
- ‘“Returning Kindness Received"? Missionaries, Empire and the Royal Navy in Okinawa, 1846-1857’
The English Historical Review, Vol. 125, No. 514 (June, 2010), pp. 599-641.