John Mitcham

John C. Mitcham

Associate Professor and Department Chair
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Department of History

College Hall 603
Phone: 412.396.2635


Ph.D. University of Alabama

Areas of Specialization

•British Empire

•Global History

•Race and Gender


•Military, Diplomatic, and Maritime History

Cover image of Dr. John Mitcham's book Race and Imperial Defence in the British World, 1870-1914John C. Mitcham is a historian of the British Empire, with a particular focus on settler colonialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His first book, Race and Imperial Defence in the British World 1870-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2016), examines the cultural links between Britain and the self-governing Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The book argues that a shared and highly racialized concept of "Britishness" gradually led to closer relations within the white portions of the empire, particularly in the realm of defense cooperation.

Mitcham's new book project is a broad transnational study of the origins of the modern Commonwealth of Nations. He examines how political leaders, colonial administrators, military officers, journalists, and business elites in Britain and the settler colonies dealt with the rise of anti-colonial nationalism in Ireland, India, South Africa, and Egypt during the First World War. These influential figures aptly recognized that the rhetoric of national self-determination and universal human rights reflected just as great a danger to the Pax Britannica as the German divisions on the Western Front.

Mitcham is active in a number of professional organizations, including the North American Conference on British Studies, the Britain and the World Society, the Society for Military History, the Southern Conference on British Studies, and the Royal Historical Society. He has delivered lectures and presentations throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia.



Race and Imperial Defence in the British World, 1870-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters:

"The 1924 Empire Cruise and the Imagining of an Imperial Community." Britain and the World Vol. 12 No. 1 (March 2019)

"Of the Blood of Sea Peoples: Navalism and Greater Britain," in Maritime History and Identity: The Sea and Culture in the Modern World, ed. Duncan Redford
(London: I.B. Tauris, 2014)

"Patrolling the White Man's Grave: Disease and the Anglo-American Anti-Slavery Squadrons, 1841-1862." The Northern Mariner/Le marin du Nord Vol. XX
(January 2010)

Courses Offered
  • HIST 151: Shaping of the Modern World
  • HIST 214: Western Civilization II
  • HIST 266: Modern Britain
  • HIST 346 World War II
  • HIST 370: Empire in Modern History
  • HIST 428W/528: British Empire
  • HIST 458W/558 First World War in a Global Context
  • HIST 619: Nineteenth Century Europe


Academic Honors:

  • Elected Fellow, Royal Historical Society, 2018
  • Finalist, Templer Medal Book Prize. Given by the Society for Army Research of the United Kingdom for Race and Imperial Defence in the British World, 2017
  • Outstanding Dissertation of the Year, Graduate School, University of Alabama, 2013
  • Clark F. Reynolds Prize for Best Graduate Paper, North American Society for Oceanic History Conference, 2008
  • Albert Burton Moore Award for Outstanding Work in European History, University of Alabama, 2008


  • Presidential Scholarship Award, Duquesne University, 2019
  • Research Fellowship, Australian Army Historical Unit, 2018
  • Faculty Development Fund, Duquesne University, 2017
  • Severino A. Russo Endowed Faculty Development Award, Duquesne University, 2016
  • Wimmer Family Foundation, Faculty Development Award, Duquesne University, 2016
  • NEH Faculty Endowment Grant, Duquesne University, 2015
  • International Travel Assistance, National Museum of the Royal Navy, 2014
  • Visiting Research Fellowship, Australian Army Historical Unit, 2013
  • International Enrichment Travel Fund, University of Alabama, 2010
  • Graduate Council Dissertation Fellowship, University of Alabama, 2010
  • Department of History European Research Grant, University of Alabama, 2009
  • Department of History Dissertation Fellowship, University of Alabama, 2009
  • Russell F. Weigley Travel Grant, Society of Military History, 2009
Recent Presentations

"The British Empire Delegation, Paris Peace Conference, and the Origins of the Commonwealth," Conference on Peacemaking After the First World War at the National Archives of the UK. London, UK June 27 2019

"The Imperial War Cabinet and Visions of a Postwar World Order," Society of Military History Conference. Columbus, OH May 10 2019

"Moderate Nationalists and the Indian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference," Britain and the World Conference. Kansas City, MO April 11 2019

Plenary Address, "Jan Smuts, Imperial Statesmanship, and the First World War," Australian Defence Force Academy at the University of New South Wales. Canberra, AU August 2 2018

Keynote Address, Graduate History Conference, Brunel University. London, UK April 2018

"The 1924 Empire Cruise and the Imagining of an Imperial Community," Cultures in Imperialism Workshop at the North American Conference on British Studies. Denver, CO. November 4 2017

"Late Victorian Imperial Security and the Origins of the Anglosphere," Joint Services Command and Staff College. Shrivenham, UK May 17 2017

"The Imperial War Conferences and the Origins of the Modern Commonwealth," Institute of Historical Research International History Seminar. London, UK January 31 2017

"What to do with the Empire? The Cabinet, the Dominions, and the Outbreak of the First World War," Britain and the World Conference. Austin, TX April 7 2017

"Colonial Nationalism, Britishness, and the 1924 Empire Cruise," Southern Conference on British Studies. Tampa, FL November 4 2016

"Forging a ‘Britannic Alliance': The Dominions and Imperial Security, 1907-1918," North American Conference on British Studies. Little Rock, AR November 14 2015

"The Boy Scouts, Military Education, and Imperial Defense," The Symposium on Military Education and Empire at the Royal Military College of Canada. Kingston, CA November 6 2015

"The 1924 ‘Empire Cruise' and Naval Defense in the Pacific," McMullen Symposium, United States Naval Academy. Annapolis, MD September 19 2015

"The Admiralty, the Dominions, and International Maritime Law," Society of Military History Conference. Montgomery, AL April 11 2015

"'Brother Britons': Robert Baden-Powell, the Boy Scouts, and the British World, 1907-1918," American Historical Association Annual Meeting. New York, NY January 3 2015