Spencer Leonard

Assistant Professor of History
James Madison University


Core: Self, Culture and Society

Spencer Leonard received his Ph.D. from the departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and History at the University of Chicago in 2009. He is currently revising for publication his dissertation, “A Fit of Absence of Mind? Illiberal Imperialism and the Founding of British India, 1757-1776.” Through an intensive study of the initial decades of East India Company state formation in Bengal, Spencer’s research attempts to revise received understandings of imperialism by reaching behind assumptions, whether imperialist or nationalist, that derive from the 20th century experience of decolonization. Contributing to the literature on late Mughal state formation, corporate and economic history, the political history of the British Empire, and the social theory of the Enlightenment, Spencer writes global history with an area specialist’s attention to local specificity.