Professor, History Department
Colonial Recruitment and the Making of the British Empire, 1756-1857
Matthew Dziennik is currently engaged in writing the first global history of recruitment in the British Empire. Focusing on the one hundred years between the Seven Years' War and the Indian Uprising of 1857, his research illustrates how imperial officials used recruitment not simply as a means of "putting boots on the ground" but as a means of strengthening British authority over colonial societies and Indigenous peoples. In building British power, administrators found recruitment to be a useful means of underpinning British sovereignty, developing political relationships with local elites, mapping European-style social structures onto colonial settings, and incorporating useful elements within the coercive mechanisms of the state. Ultimately, Matthew Dziennik's research suggests that military recruitment was the glue that held British imperial power together. This research builds upon his previous work on Gaelic-Speaking Scottish Highlanders in the eighteenth century British Army, which was published as The Fatal Land: War, Empire, and the Highland Soldier in British America by Yale University press in 2015 and which won the Highly Commended First Book Award by the International Centre for Scottish Studies. His work has also been recognized by the Royal Historical Society, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library, the William L Clements Library at the University of Michigan, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the New York Historical Society, the International Center for Jefferson Studies, the Canadian High Commission in the United kingdom, and the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.