Maura CappsI am an environmental historian of Britain and the British Empire currently working on my first book, All Flesh Is Grass: An Eco-Agrarian History of Britain's Settler Empire. The book highlights the interplay between Enlightenment-era agricultural improvement and ecological imperialism in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century colonies of settlement--New South Wales (Australia), Cape Colony (South Africa), and New Zealand--by examining the transfer and trajectory of European fodder crops (e.g. clover, meadow foxtail, lucerne/alfalfa) in these colonies. By exploring both the figurative and literal grassroots of imperial expansion, my work connects the economic anxieties, scientific aspirations, ideological tensions, and political maneuverings of British elites in the Colonial Office with the "groundwork" of agricultural settlement in these new colonies and the microscopic, but singularly important, process whereby nutrients cycle through the roots of plants and guts of animals.

I have a broad thematic range of teaching and research interests in environmental history, history of science, agricultural history, food history, climate history, and history of colonialism, with particular interests in early modern and modern Europe (including Britain); colonial and postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa and Australasia; and the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds in the long nineteenth century.


  • University of Chicago Ph.D. History 2016
  • University of Chicago M.A. History 2010
  • Bard College B.A. 2006

Select Publications:

  • "Weekends in the Clover: Imagining Colonial New South Wales," Research Matters, Social Sciences Research Council (2014). View Article

Select Awards:

  • Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 2015-16
  • International Dissertation Research Fellow, Social Sciences Research Council, 2013-14
  • Graduate Research Fellowship, The Nicholson Center for British Studies, 2013


  • History 229 - Feast and Famine: Global Histories of Food (Spring 2017)

Maura Capps

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

University Club 303

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