Benjamin Breen

Lecturer in History Columbia University

Benjamin Breen is an historian of the early modern world. He received his PhD in history from UT Austin in 2015. His current research focuses on the origins of the global drug trade in the tropical belt, with a particular focus on the Portuguese and British empires in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Breen's larger interests include the origins of globalization, exchanges between European, African and indigenous American natural knowledge, the environmental history of the tropics, and the global history of religion and magic. He has published articles in The Journal of Early Modern History, the Journal of Early American History, and History Compass, and has also written articles for popular outlets like Slate, The AtlanticAeon Magazine, The Pacific StandardThe Paris Review Online, and a co-edited online journal, The Appendix. You can find samples of this work at

Breen's research travel has included a Fulbright year in Lisbon, Portugal, shorter trips to the Brazil and to London, a summer visiting fellowship at Lincoln College, Oxford, and fellowships at the McNeil Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the John Carver Brown Library in Providence, RI, and the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. In January of 2017, he will take up the post of Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In his spare time Breen likes to garden, draw and paint, and try to write fiction.