Joanna Bourke

Born1963 (age 58–59)
Blenheim, New Zealand
AwardsRonald Tress Prize (1993)
Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History (1998)
Wolfson History Prize (2000)
Fellow of the British Academy (2014)
Raleigh Lecture on History (2018)[1][2]
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Auckland (BA, MA)
Australian National University (PhD)
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)

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


Born to Christian medical-missionary parents, Bourke was brought up in New Zealand, Zambia, Solomon Islands and Haiti.[3] She attended the University of Auckland, gaining a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in History. She undertook her Doctor of Philosophy degree at the Australian National University (ANU) and subsequently held academic posts at the ANU, Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Birkbeck, University of London.[4] 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, Australia. She has joint British and New Zealand citizenship.

Bourke, who describes herself as a "socialist feminist",[5] 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 television 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.

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.[6] She is the Principal 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-doctoral researchers, 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 United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, and Australasia (to be published by Oxford University Press), followed by another on the global history of sexual violence.

Selected works


  1. ^ Bourke, Joanna (2019). "Radical physics: science, socialism, and the paranormal at Birkbeck College in the 1970s". Journal of the British Academy. 7: 25–59. doi:10.5871/jba/007.025. ISSN 2052-7217.
  2. ^ "Raleigh Lectures on History". The British Academy.
  3. ^ Bristol Festival of Ideas 2005 programme Archived 5 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine (.pdf file)
  4. ^ Granta biography page Archived 29 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine on Joanna Bourke
  5. ^ Eithne Farry "'Why aren't we more outraged?'", The Guardian, 5 October 2007. Retrieved on 7 October 2007.
  6. ^ "British Academy announces 42 new fellows". Times Higher Education. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2014.