Jo Guldi


  • Assistant Professor of History, Brown University, Providence, RI (2012- )
  • Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows, Cambridge, MA (2009-10, 2011-3)
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital History, Department of History, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2008-9, 2010-1)


  • PhD History, University of California, Berkeley, 2004-2008. Dissertation: The Road to Rule: The expansion of the British road network, 1740-1850. Primary field: British History, 1688-1950. Secondary fields: Urban History, Architecture. Advisor: Professor James Vernon, British History.
  • PhD Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, 2002-2003. Secondary fields: History, Anthropology (incomplete; transferred to History)
  • MLitt Historical Geography, Trinity College, Cambridge 2001-2002 (deferred)
  • AB Literature, Magna cum Laude, Harvard College, 1996-2000. GPA: 3.83. Phi Beta Kappa. Thesis director: Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Greek Literature.

Books & Journals

Completed Publications: Books

  • (with David Armitage) The History Manifesto (Cambridge University Press, October 2014),
    • As of September 2014, the book is scheduled for translation into Turkish and Chinese. In addition, the argument is scheduled as the subject of a five-historian roundtable in Annales and an “exchange” in the American Historical Review between historians Deborah Cohen, Peter Mandler, David Armitage and Jo Guldi.
  • Paper Machines, digital software for historians (2012),
    • Paper Machines is a free toolkit for historians who wish to perform a “distant reading” of large-scale textual corpora, particularly those associated with modern institutions like Parliament or the World Bank, by using algorithms to visualize how the official mind’s concerns change over time and space. I designed Paper Machines to help with my next monograph, The Long Land War, with funding from Harvard and Google in 2012. I have since used it constantly in teaching as an introduction to topic-modelling (measuring word and phrase frequency over time) and geoparsing (mapping the occurrence of place-names over time). The technology has been widely adopted and taught. Twitter searching gives a glimpse of its adoptation:;; There is also a review of the software in Digital Humanities Quarterly:
  • Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State (Harvard University Press, 2012).
    • Reviews in Technology and Culture, Journal of British Studies, Victorian Studies, The American Historical Review, etc.
  • The Long Spatial Turn (Charlottesville: University of Virginia, Scholar’s Lab, 2012) – digital manuscript only at present (link)

Completed Publications: Book Chapters

  • “Digital Methods and the Longue Durée,” in Patrik Svensson and David Theo Goldberg, eds., The Humanities and the Digital (Cambridge: MIT Press, forthcoming 2014).
  • “Reinventing the Academic Journal,” in Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt, eds., Hacking the Academy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), 19-29.
  • “Methods for Landscape History," chapter, Simon Gunn, ed, New Methodologies in History (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 66-80.
  • “A Map of the Virtual Territory: Individual and society in the 21st century,” chapter in Wikiklesia: Voices of the Virtual World (Lulu, 2007),, winner of the Award of Merit from the Society for New Communications Research.

Completed Publications: Refereed Journal Articles

  • David Armitage and Jo Guldi, ‘The Return of the Longue Durée,’ Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, 69 (2014); Chinese translation, 長時間歷史之回歸, Global History Review (Beijing), 5 (2013).
  • "The History of Walking and the Digital Turn: Stride and Lounge," Journal of Modern History 84:1 (March 2012), 116-144.
  • “The Other Side of the Panopticon: Technology, Archives, and the Difficulty of Seeing Victorian Heterotopias,” Chicago Journal of the Digital Humanities and Computer Science 1:3 (2011), 1-25 Link
  • “The Uses of Planning and the Decay of Strategy,” Contemporary Security Policy, 27:2 (April 2006), pp. 239-286. (lead article) Link
  • “Chaos Creation and Crowd Control: Models of riot regulation, 1700 to 2005,” Critical Planning 12 (2005) Link (PDF)

Completed Publications: Non-Refereed Journal Articles

  • (with David Armitage) “Let’s Look at the Evidence,” Times Higher Education Supplement (October 2, 2014).
  • “Oceanic Infrastructure,” Harvard Design Magazine (forthcoming 2014)
  • “Paper Machines: A Text Analysis Visualization Toolkit,” LASA Forum 14:1 (Winter 2013): 3-5.
  • Working Paper, “The Origins of Expert Rule: British Liberalism, the Engineer, and the Local Poor, 1808-1850,” 2007 Breslauer Graduate Student Symposium, UC Berkeley. Link


Completed Publications: Invited Papers

  • “Seminar on the Long Land War,” Mellon Seminar, The University of California, Davis, May 5, 2015.
  • “Digital Workshop on Paper Machines,” Mellon Seminar, The University of California, Davis, May 1, 2015.
  • “The Long Land War,” presentation at the workshop on History, Culture, and Society, Harvard University, March 6, 2015.
  • “A Roundtable on The History Manifesto: The Role of History and the Humanities in a Digital Age,” presentation at Columbia University, November 17, 2014, 6:15pm.
  • “The History Manifesto,” talk in the British Government series, London School of Economics, October 8, 2014, 6:30-8pm. Program
  • “The History Manifesto,” talk at the History Department, University of California, Berkeley, September 29, 2014, 4pm.
  • “Are Crowdsourced Maps the Future of Community Self-Governance? Food, Land, and Water,” talk at the Stanford Center for Liberation Technology, January 9, 2014. Video
  • “The History of Participatory Mapping,” talk at Stanford History Department, October 24, 2013.
  • “Property Rights, the Post Office, and the Making of the Infrastructure State,” A Symposium on the History, Theory and Culture of Roads, University College Cork, Ireland, May 3, 2013.
  • “Human Infrastructure: Participatory Mapping in Chicago,” Conference on the Built Environment, University of Chicago, April 26, 2013. Video online at: Video
  • “The Return of the Longue Durée,” Yale Legal History Forum, Yale Law School, April 23, 2013.
  • “Human Infrastructure,” Infrastructure Monument Conference, MIT, April 8, 2013.
  • “"Infrastructure for a revolution,” Media Places Conference, Umea University, Sweden, Program, Storify
  • "Digital Methods and the Long Land War," University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 4 December 2012, Link
  • Seminar, "Mapping Time, Mapping Space," University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 4 December 2012, Storify
  • “"The Long Land War: A Global History of Land Reform, c. 1860-Present" Harvard International & Global History Seminar, Harvard University November 28, 2012
  • Paper Machines Seminar, Rice University, Houston, November 19, 2012. Link I, Link II
  • “International Finance and the Rise of Global Squatterdom,” Histories of Land, Economy, and Power Conference and Workshop, Program, Harvard University, November 10, 2012
  • “Introducing the Digital Humanities: New Research Methods for Graduate Students,” Northwestern University, June 2012. Video available: Video
  • Topic Modeling Workshop, MITH, University of Maryland, College Park, November 3, 2012 Video
  • “Mapping the Spaces of Subaltern History," Society for Textual Scholarship, Penn State, March 2011.
  • "Britain Invents the Infrastructure State," Harvard STS Circle, February 2011.
  • “A History of the Boundary Line,” in artists’ panel, “Natural Histories of the Boundary Line,” to accompany film work by Sarah Kanouse and Thomas Comerford, Mess Hall, Chicago, January 2011.
  • “Infrastructure and Social Connection,” Social Computing Seminar, New York (January 2011).
  • "Keywords for the Infrastructure State," Early Modern Reading Group, November 2010
  • "Mapping the Spaces of Subaltern History," DHCS Conference, Northwestern, November 2010
  • "The City Made of Words: Mapping the Spaces of Subaltern History," University of Virginia Library, September 2010

Completed Publications: Invited Papers

  • “Learning Not to Speak to Strangers,” Anglo-American Conference, Institute for Historical Research, London (July 2-3, 2009).
  • “Landscape History and Modern History” to the Social History Workshop in the Department of History at the University of Chicago (April 2009)
  • “The Invisibility of Scotland,” Mellon Conference on the Social Sciences, University of Chicago (March 2009).
  • “Citizenship and Connectivity: How Government Pioneered the Shape of Public Space in Modern Britain, 1803-1811” Panel on Landscape, North American Conference on British Studies, Cincinnati, Ohio (October 2008).
  • "The Origins of Eminent Domain in the English Transport Revolution, 1740-1800: Impermanent Architecture and Permanent Infrastructure,” Permanence and the Built Environment of the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World, the Huntington Library, San Marino, California (November 3-4, 2008).
  • “Technology, State, and Society in the Building of the British Road Network, 1810-1850,” invited paper at the Technology, Politics, & Culture Seminar, the Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois (April 4, 2008).
  • “The Road to Rule: Technology, the State, and Britain’s interkingdom highways, 1740-1850,” in panel, Pathbreaking in the Nineteenth Century: Roads as a product of statecraft and representation, The American Society for Environmental History, Boise, Idaho (March 12-16, 2008).
  • “The Fellowship of Travelers: Migrant Communities on Britain’s Roads, 1740-1850,” California World History Association, Fullerton, California (November 11-12, 2007).
  • “Scottish Technocrats, the Highway Commission, and Postcolonial Nationalism: The Administrative origins of the Transport Revolution, 1810-1840,” Western Conference on British Studies, Albuquerque, New Mexico (November 1-3, 2007)
  • “The Transport Revolution, Reimagined: Visual technology, governmentality, and mobility on Britain’s Roads, 1740-1850,” Fifth Annual Conference of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic & Mobility, Helmond, the Netherlands (October 25-28, 2007)
  • “Paving the Way to Nationhood: Parliament and the British Interkingdom Highway System,” Midwest Conference on British Studies at Wright State University , Dayton, Ohio (October 28, 2007).
  • “Learning Not to Talk to Strangers: Interactions in London’s Public Streets, 1810-1840” Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference (RMIHC), Boulder, Colorado (September 7-8, 2007).
  • “The Origins of Expert Rule: British Liberalism, the Engineer, and the Local Poor, 1808-1850,” Breslauer Graduate Student Symposium, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California (March 2007).
  • “The Expansion of the British Road Network, 1740-1850,” Mellon Graduate Student Conference at the National Association for British Studies, Boston, Massachusetts (November 2006).
  • “Connecting the Social Body: The Expansion of the British Road Network,” Conference on Culture and Society, the Center for British Studies, Berkeley, California (Jan. 28-29, 2005).
  • “Regulating Riot: Architecture and Terrorism at the End of the Coffee-house,” CRASSH: Graduate Student Conference on Urban Conflict, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (March 2004).
  • “Looming Conflict: London Street Scenes and Satire, 1780-1810,” Meeting of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, St. Hugh’s College, Oxford (January 2003)

Current Works

Works in Review

  • “A History of the Participatory Map” (submitted to Social Text)
  • “International Squatterdom and Global Finance” (submitted to The Journal of Contemporary History)

Works in Process

  • The Long Land War tells the story of global struggles over land and water since the struggles kicked off by simultaneous land reform movements and land wars in Ireland, Scotland, and India in the 1880s. The story begins with a synthetic overview of land reform movements in the longue durée . It narrates how simultaneous famines and rent strikes rocked the British empire, causing a rethinking of property law within circles at Oxford and Cambridge, recently roused to contemplating the history of the European commons by archaeological finds and new evidence from the legal archives. The story then continues to the making of international land reform movements after the Second World War, where history PhD’s who had written theses on the history of the European peasant commons were recruited by the United Nations to run the Food and Agriculture Organization, which together with a variety of other small think tanks, championed the cause of international land reform even while land movements in Southeast Asia and South America were being directly suppressed by US Foreign Policy. A further chapter examines the utopian hope of the FAO and other organizations, who wanted to ameliorate all battles over real estate with the hope of an information service that would map soil quality around the world, so advising the poor peasant on wasteland and highland about improving his farm. The chapter shows the growth of “information overload,” and questions the new army of anthropologists, geographers, geologists, and historians who hoped to contribute their knowledge to the global struggle for peasant land through the 1960s and 70s. A chapter on British squatters in 1946 and 1974, their interface with police, government, and the London real estate bubble, is complete. The story then proceeds to an intellectual history of squatterdom since 1946 and the influence of anarchist radicals on World Bank policy in Lima and Mexico City, which is also complete. A final chapter follows the utopian hopes of mapping land by and for popular movements in the story of the participatory mapping movement, from its origins at the University of Sussex in the 1970s through the current proliferation of NGOs and digital technologies for decentralized property mapping in current-day India.

    A methodological text on digital history with emphasis on keyword search, visualization, and mapping historical spaces is in the process of being developed. It is comprised of four case-studies where the techniques of digital history are applied to problems in the cultural history of the nineteenth century.
  • “The Infrastructure State and its Urban Contestation” (intended submission to The Journal of British Studies 10/2014)
  • “The Longue Durée of Henry George” (currently in revision, intended submission to AHR 1/2015)


Current Research Grants

  • Brown Salomon Grant for research (2014-6) ($15,000)
  • Brown University Public Humanities Center Fellowship (2014-5) ($2,500)
  • Watson Institute Collaborative Research Grant (2014-5) ($8,000)

Completed Research Grants

  • Brown India Initiative Grant (Summer 2013) ($10,000)
  • Google Summer of Code Grant, Berkman Center/Metalab, Harvard University (Summer 2012)
  • William F. Milton Fund, Harvard University, 2012 ($30,000)

Research Grants Submitted

  • Guggenheim, ACLS fellowships for 2015-6
  • Pending: applications to the AAAS, Cogut, and Radcliffee for 2015-6.


Service to the Department/University

  • Department advising, 2014-5
  • Leader, Modern Europe Seminar, Fall 2014
  • Organizer, Watson conference, “History for the Long Term,” April 2014
  • Co-Organizer, Brown-RISD Critical Design Futures Conference, May 2014
  • Member, Brown-RISD Critical Design Futures Initiative, 2014-5
  • Member, Brown Digital Humanities Initiative, 2012-4.
  • Various talks, Brown CS department, on historians and big data and opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, 2012-4.
  • “Can Participatory Maps Save the World?” Talk at the Brown Library Digital Showcase, November 23, 2014. Video

Service to the Profession

  • Moderator, “People and Technology: Comparing Road Building across Three Continents,” Meeting of the American Historical Association, New York City, January 5, 2015.
  • “Introducing Paper Machines,” talk at the Columbia University seminar “On Methods,” October 28, 2014.
  • “Introducing Paper Machines,” talk at the Institute of Historical Research, Digital Humanities Seminar October 2014.
  • “History Looks at the Evidence,” talk at the British Library, October 9, 2014.
  • Reviewer, panel on Palladio software for early-modern epistolary studies, CESTA, Stanford, May 2014.
  • Various book manuscript reviews: Princeton University Press, MIT Press, Routledge, 2012-4.
  • Roundtable on digital history, Harvard History Department, March 2013. 
  • “Front Lines: Early-Career Scholars Doing Digital History,” American Historical Association, January 4, 2013, Abstract, Storify
  • “How Digital Tools are Changing the Practice of History: A Report on the Longue Durée,” invited lecture, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC, April 19, 2013.
  • “Introducing Paper Machines,” talk at the Stanford History Department, October 24, 2013.
  • NEH Digital Humanities grant reviewer, 2012
  • Various talks to graduate students on digital methods, University of Chicago, 2008-11

Service to the Community

  • Development of a walking tour on foreclosure and eviction in Providence with the John Nicholson Brown Center for Public History, Brown, masters student Kate Diedrick
  • Various public conversations about present-day infrastructure activists and the history of technology, covered by Forbes
  • Interdisciplinary NSF-funded workshop on social science, policy, engineering, and climate change, UC Davis, June 2014.
  • “A Brief History of Participatory Mapping,” invited talk at Transparent Chennai (a participatory mapping nonprofit), Chennai, India, May 14, 2013.
  • I also informally advise a number of technology non-profits – including Transparent Chennai, Geeks Without Bounds, and Taarifa -- on the history of expertise, development, and postcolonialism
  • “International Finance and the Rise of Global Squatterdom, NEASA Conference, New Orleans, January 5, 2013, online here
  • Various solidarity work with Occupy in relation to the political uses of the historical walking tour and privately-owned public spaces
  • The entries on my blog offer a public introduction to experimental work in the digital humanities. At least one of the blog entries has been cited in a scholarly publication by Martin Wattenberg, a visualization researcher at IBM Labs. The entry on the future of digital publication was adopted by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals as a position piece on the future of the journal, and featured on their blog.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Named appointment, Hans Rothfels Assistant Professorship (2014)
  • Fellow, John Nicholas Brown Public Humanities Center (2014)
  • Fellow, Harvard Metalab, 2012-3
  • Short-term Fellowship, Huntington Library, January 2009
  • University DNT Fellowship, 2007-2008. Departmental fellowship, 2006-2007
  • Anglo-California Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Center for British Studies, UC Berkeley and Pembroke College, Cambridge, 2005
  • Fellow, Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, 2005
  • Fellow, Yale Center for British Art, 2005
  • Fellow, Institute for Humane Studies, 2004-2008
  • Fellow, Center for Landscape at Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University, 2004
  • John Scholes Prize for Best Essay in Transportation History, 2004
  • Kostof Fellowship in Architectural History at Berkeley, 2002-2003
  • Gates Fellowship at Cambridge, 2001-2002
  • Eben Fiske Fellowship at Trinity College, 2001-2002

Selected Teaching Experience

Teaching Competencies: Digital History; British History, 1540-1982; Landscape History; History of Technology; European History since 1688; History of the State; History of Cities

  • Undergraduate Theses: 1 (2014-5); 3 (2014-5)
  • Undergraduate advising: 30 students, 2014-5
  • Hist 1301, “Nineteenth-Century Cities: Reform and Reformers in Paris, London, and Chicago,” undergraduate lecture course, Brown University (Spring 2014, Spring 2015)
  • Hist 1970u, “Digital History,” undergraduate seminar, Brown University (Spring 2015).
  • Hist 1311, “Land Use and Capitalism, 1350-the present,” undergraduate lecture course, Brown University (Fall 2013, Fall 2014)
  • Hist 1970u, “Utopias,” undergraduate seminar, Brown University (Spring 2014)
  • Hist 1970u, “Radical Peasants, Rent Strikes, Squatters, and Land Reform: A Global Story, 1870-1980,” undergraduate seminar, Brown University (Fall 2014)
  • Hist 2981h, “Property, Markets, and the State,” graduate seminar (Fall 2013).
  • Hist 62303, “Digital History” University of Chicago (Winter 2011) (new syllabus, co-taught as a lab with researchers from IBM and Google Books, emphasis on visualizing and text-mining historiography).
  • Hist 28904, “Modern History and the Landscape: Land use and the political imagination, 1350 to the present,” University of Chicago (Fall 2010)
  • Hist 62303, “Digital History: Information Revolutions Since Gutenberg and New Methodologies in the Digital Archives,” University of Chicago (Spring 2009)
  • Hist 28903, “The Birth of the Modern City: Paris, London, and Chicago in the Nineteenth Century,” University of Chicago (Spring 2009)
  • Graduate Student Instructor experience: History 7b, American History, 1865-2000, Leon Litwack, Instructor (Spring 2007); Architecture 170, Architecture History, 2000 B. C. E. to 1300 A. D., Stephen Tobriner, Instructor (2003-2004); Environmental Design 169a and 169b, The History of the Built Environment in America, 1600-1900 and 1900-the present; Paul Groth, Instructor (2002-2003)
  • Various readerships in post-1865 American History (2004-2007)

Other Professional Activities

  • Participant, THATCamp Collaborative Conference in the digital humanities at GMU, Northwestern (June 2009, May 2010, November 2011)
  • Consultant to various digital publishing and database initiatives at the Newberry Library, Plebeian Lives Project, and Old Bailey Online.
  • Coordinator, professional working groups. Coordinator for working group of dissertation writers in History (2007-2008), Coordinator for reading group on “Spatial Practice” at the Townsend Center for the Humanities (2003-2004).
  • Conference organizing. Organizer, Conference on Religion, History, and Social Values, October 13-15, 2005 - , National Cathedral, Washington, DC. Panel organizer, panel on infrastructure and the environment, American Society of Environmental Historians, Boise, Idaho, March 2008.
  • Literary journals: Prose Editor (2006- ) Absent Magazine Link; Founder and Editor-in-Chief (2001-2002), Topic Magazine, now publishing in New York to a circulation of 25,000, Link.


  • French (fluent)
  • German, Latin, Ancient Greek (reading)

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