Priya Satia

Associate Professor of Modern British History

At Stanford Since

MA/Ph.D. UC Berkeley 2004; M.Sc. LSE; BA/BS Stanford

Research Interests

Modern British cultural and political history, colonialism and imperialism, the experience and practice of war, technology and culture, human rights and humanitarianism, the state and institutions of government, arms trade, political economy of empire, environmental history, colonial knowledge, history of democracy, intelligence history, industrial revolution, partitions, Indian Ocean world.

Courses Taught

  • Survey lecture: Modern Britain and the Empire
  • Britain and the History of Human Rights and Humanitarianism
  • Capital and Empire
  • Empire and Information
  • Mass Consumption and its Critics in Britain, 1850-1950
  • Graduate Colloquium: Modern Britain, Part I
  • Graduate Colloquium: Modern Britain, Part II
  • Modern Europe: The 20th Century (Graduate Colloquium)
  • Industrial Revolution: The History, Ethics, and Consequences of Modern
    Economic Development
  • Indian Ocean Worlds
  • First World War
  • 209 War and Empire


  • "Empire of Guns: The British State, the Industrial Revolution, and the Conscience of a Quaker Arms-Maker," current book project

Spies in Arabia book coverSpies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East (Oxford University Press, Mar. 2008).

Winner of the 2009 AHA-Pacific Coast Branch Book Award
Winner of the AHA Herbert Baxter Adams Book Prize 2009
Winner of the 2010 Pacific Coast Conference of British Studies Book Prize


  • Entry on “Air Power,” in The Encyclopedia of Empire, ed. John Mackenzie (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming)
  • “Cunning in the Cradle of Civilization: How the Middle Eastern Side-Shows Saved Heroism, Empire, and Warfare for Modern Britain,” Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, special issue on World War I, edited by Pierre Purseigle and Olivier Compagnon, Spring 2014, forthcoming.
  • Drones: A History from the British Middle East,” Humanity 5 (Spring 2014).
  • “Turning Space into Place: British India and the Invention of Iraq,” in Eric Tagliacozzo and Helen Siu, eds., Asia Inside Out (vol. 2), Harvard University Press, forthcoming.
  • “The Pain of Love: The Invention of Aerial Surveillance in British Iraq,” in Peter Adey, Mark Whitehead, and Alison Williams, eds., From Above: The Politics and Practice of the View from the Skies. London: Hurst and OUP, 2013.
  • “Interwar Agnotology: Empire, Democracy and the Production of Ignorance,” in Laura Beers and Geraint Thomas, eds., Brave New World: Imperial and Democratic Nation-building in Britain between the Wars.  London: Institute of Historical Studies, 2012.
  • War, Wireless, and Empire: Marconi and the British Warfare State, 1896-1903,” Technology and Culture 51 (October 2010).
  • “‘A Rebellion of Technology’: Development, Policing, and the British Arabian Imaginary,” in D. K. Davis and Edmund Burke, III, eds., Environmental Imaginaries of the Middle East (Ohio University Press, forthcoming).
  • Developing Iraq: Britain, India, and the Redemption of Empire and Technology in World War I,” Past and Present 197 (November 2007).
  • Air Control and the British Idea of Arabia,” in Penultimate Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics and Culture in Britain, ed. Wm. Roger Louis (London, New York, Austin: I. B. Tauris, 2007).
  • The Defense of Inhumanity: Air Control in Iraq and the British Idea of Arabia,” American Historical Review 111 (February 2006).
    • Winner of the 2007 Article Prize of the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies
    • Winner of the 2007 Walter D. Love Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies.

Selected Comment, Reviews, and Interviews

Prof. Satia in the News

Audio and Video