Zachary Dorner (Brown) Mellon Dissertation Fellow

Expert individuals and networked pharmaceuticals: the making of Britain's global empire in the eighteenth century

Zack is a PhD candidate in the History Department at Brown University from which he also holds an MA (2011). His dissertation examines the overlap of science and capitalism in the pharmaceutical trade across the British empire during the long 18th century. Although the trade in medical drugs or spices was not new, the volume of imported drugs continued to expand over the 18th century. This commodity chain connected Asia, Europe, and North America as a drug-manufacturing sector developed in Britain fed East India Company imports to manufacture, repackage, and re-export drugs to the North American colonies and continental Europe. By the end of the 18th century, a significant transatlantic trade in pharmaceuticals existed as British druggists collaborated with the state to expand their overseas commerce and avoid European competition. At bottom, the process of transporting drugs over short and long distances required specific standardised practices (scientific and financial) recognisable to a group of experts, and relied upon an infrastructure of state and non-state actors that achieved a level of global connectivity in the 18th century.

Broadly speaking, Zack’s research interests span the histories of early modern Britain, capitalism, colonial America, and science. Before coming to Brown, he received an AB from Dartmouth College in History and Molecular Biology.