Dr Rachel Winchcombe

Lecturer in Early Modern History

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I am a cultural historian of early modern America, with particular interests in the connections between colonial health, embodiment, and environmental change, and in the ways that different colonial relationships, such as those between colonisers and Indigenous peoples, were formed, maintained, and often destabilised. In April 2021 my first monograph, Encountering early America, was published. It is the first study to comprehensively analyse sixteenth-century English projects in America, arguing that rather than being a period of inconsequential colonial failure, the sixteenth century instead represents a pivotal period in the history of English encounters with the Americas.


I completed my PhD at the University of Manchester in 2017 after which I was a Research Associate on the AHRC-funded project How we Used to Sleep. Between 2017 and 2020 I was a temporary Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Manchester before moving to the University of Leeds to take up an ISSF Wellcome Research Fellowship in September 2020. In May 2021 I returned to the University of Manchester as a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow before taking up the role of Lecturer in Early Modern History in May 2022.


My new research project, Environment, Emotion, and Diet in the Early Anglo-American Colonies, 1570-1660, investigates eating practices, access to food, and the connections between health, migration, and diet in a colonial context. The project breaks new ground by juxtaposing colonial environmental history and the history of emotions, and by adopting an interdisciplinary methodology that foregrounds the co-dependencies of colonists, Indigenous peoples, enslaved people, and their physical environments.


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