Personal Statement:

I am a European cultural historian, interested in the history of gender and consumer cultures in Modern Britain and its Empire. I study how particular commodities and shopping spaces are integral to the construction of identities, politics, and economies in the 19th and 20th centuries. My recent work to reposition the British Empire within a broader global framework. I enjoy teaching comparative histories of gender, consumerism, urban history, food history, and the history of empires, capitalism and globalization.


Advisor to:

Selected Publications:

A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World (Princeton University Press, 2017)

Rappaport-A Thirst for Empire cover

A Thirst for Empire examines the history of tea from three interconnected perspectives: as a British-dominated colonial industry that was transplanted from China to India, Ceylon, Southeast Asia, and Africa; as a global commodity whose trade came to be centered in nineteenth and early twentieth-century London; and as beverage with similar but distinct consumer cultures in Europe, South Asia, the Americas and Africa. The Chinese and other imperial and regional powers play a part here, but this book focuses on the central role of the British Empire. It thus provides a new global history of Modern Britain and presents a portrait of empire as a changing, fluid and yet powerful entity. Through both a broad sweep and focused lens, A Thirst for Empire highlights how people living and working in South and East Asia, North America, Africa, the Pacific and Europe aided and resisted the growth of the new tastes and commercial practices that define global capitalism. Beginning in the seventeenth-century and reaching a peak in the early twentieth century, this book traces the development of an empire of tea that overlapped with but was never the same as the formal boundaries of the British Empire. This story reveals the practices, politics and imagination of merchants, planters, and promoters, as well as consumers and retailers. Lastly, although sharing much with other similar global commodities, tea was the first agricultural industry to use imperial power and resources to engage in and pay for advertising and political lobbying in many locations over a long period of time. The model that tea developed is still used today and is critical to understanding the role of politics and publicity in shaping the geographies and power dynamics of the modern global economy.


Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London’s West End(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)

Courses Taught:

  • History 4C: European History, 1715 to the Present
  • History 141A: 19th Century Britain
  • History 141B: 20th Century Britain
  • History 124A: Women, Gender and Sexuality in Europe, 1750-1914
  • History 124B: Women, Gender and Sexuality in Europe, 1914 to the Present
  • History 193F: Food in World History
  • Various graduate and undergraduate seminars on comparative consumer cultures, British National and Imperial History and European Gender History

Honors and Professional Activities:

  • Associate Editor, Journal of British Studies
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Personal Research Award, 2010-2011
  • Modern Britain and Ireland Editor, History Compass
  • University of California President’s Fellowship in the Humanities, 2004-05
  • International Visiting Fellow, Cultures of Consumption Program, Birkbeck College, University of London, Summer 2004.
  • Honorable Mention, 2001 British Council Prize, North American Conference on British Studies for Shopping for Pleasure: Women in the Making of London’s West End (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)o

Reviews, Interviews, Podcasts

Listen to Episode #26, “The Once and Future of Food,” The American Scholar Podcast featuring an interview about my book, A Thirst for Empire

Financial Times

The National

Times Higher Education

Wall Street Journal

The Spectator