Caroline Elkins

Caroline Elkins is Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for African Studies.  

She received her A.B., summa cum laude, from Princeton University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.  

Elkins’ research focuses on empire, violence, liberalism, and insecurity, with a particular focus on Africa and various regions of the former British Empire including parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Her first book, Imperial Reckoning:  The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya (Henry Holt, 2005) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2006.  It was also one of The Economist’s Best Books for 2005, an Editor’s Choice for The New York Times, a Waterstone’s Best Writer for 2005, and a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize for nonfiction.  

At Harvard Elkins was selected as a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow, elected as a member of the Faculty Council for Arts and Sciences, and inducted as an honorary member of the University’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. She has also held numerous other fellowships and awards including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Scholars (Burkhardt Fellowship), Fulbright, the Social Science Research Council, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2003-04; 2012-13), the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Carr Center for Human Rights, and the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy.  

Professor Elkins is currently completing her book on violence and the end of the British Empire, to be published by Knopf in 2017. In addition, Imperial Reckoning and Elkins’ role as expert witness in the Mau Mau case is currently being made into a major motion picture.

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