Joshua Ehrlich is a historian of knowledge, political thought, the East India Company, the British Empire, and South and Southeast Asia. Currently Assistant Professor of History at the University of Macau, he received a PhD and MA from Harvard University and a BA from the University of Chicago.
In his first book, The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023), Ehrlich shows how a commitment to knowledge was integral to the Company’s ideology. He reveals how, from the 1770s to 1850s, the Company cited this commitment in defense of its increasingly fraught union of commercial and political power. He moves beyond studies of orientalism, colonial knowledge, and information with a new approach: the history of ideas of knowledge. He recovers a world of debate among the Company’s officials and interlocutors, Indian and European, on the political uses of knowledge. Not only were these historical actors highly articulate on the subject but their ideas continue to resonate in the present. Knowledge was a fixture in the politics of the Company – just as it seems to be becoming a fixture in today’s politics.
Ehrlich’s articles – on topics including the boundaries and boundedness of port cities, the making and unmaking of libraries through plunder, the crisis of liberal reform in India, and the origins of Indian print culture – have appeared in journals including Past & Present, The Historical Journal, Modern Asian Studies, Modern Intellectual History, Global Intellectual History, History of European Ideas, Book History, Historical Research, and Journal of the Royal Historical Society.
Ph.D., History, Harvard University, 2018
M.A., History, Harvard University, 2013
B.A. (Hons), History, University of Chicago, 2009
Honorary and Visiting Appointments
Associate Scholar, Harvard University, 2019–
Junior Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies (UM), 2023–2024
Visiting Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), 2020