Mobilities of Knowledge

Volume 10 of the series Knowledge and Space pp 157-183

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.


Geographies of Selection: Academic Appointments in the British Academic World, 1850–1939

  • Tamson PietschAffiliated withDepartment of History, University of Sydney Email author 


This chapter considers the changing appointment practices of universities in late nineteenth century Britain and its empire. It shows that their reliance on the private knowledge of key men in Britain worked to extend the networks of British scholarship far beyond the British Isles. However, as the chapter goes on to show, this reliance also meant that universities’ measures of expertise were contingent upon cultures of academic sociability that were heavily raced and gendered. It suggests that the technologies of selection used by settler universities helped to create a British academic world that was both expansive and exclusionary, and points to the way the boundaries and contours of this world were mapped, not just by mileage, but also by the density and reach of personal connections.


Appointments Trust Sociability Networks Connections Gender Race Professors Universities