Ryan Johnson | Assistant Professor
Office: 202 Buckman Hall | Phone: (901) 843-3289



My courses explore the history of science and medicine in western and non-western contexts. Students will investigate the rise of scientific medicine in the west, the history of medicine in global context, and the way science and medicine have impacted, and been impacted by, various social, political, and economic processes. I also teach courses on African and Imperial history, with an emphasis on the history of West Africa and the British Empire, from the nineteenth century to the post-colonial period.


My research has investigated ideas and practices of medicine in Britain’s tropical colonies from 1895-1914, and argued for the importance of bringing back the “imperial” to the study of medicine in colonial localities. I redefined the imperial in relation to ITM by demonstrating that what was most imperial about it was not its practice, but the hopes and aspirations that were embedded in it. I have conducted research throughout West Africa and Great Britain. My book, "Tropical Medicine and Imperial Power: Science, Hygiene and Health in the Late British Empire" is currently In Press.


Ph.D., University of Oxford, 2010
M.Sc., Imperial College, London 2005
B.A. and B.S., University of Iowa, 2002


History 105 – The Rise of Scientific Medicine
History 205 – Introduction to Medical History from the Antiquity to Present
History 205 – History of Modern Africa
History 405 – Science, Medicine, and European Imperialism
Humanities 101 – The Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion
Humanities 102 – The Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion


Selected Publications


Public Health in the British Empire: Intermediaries, Subordinates and Public Health Practice, 1850-1960 (London: Routledge, 2011) edited with Amna Khalid.

Tropical Medicine and Imperial Power: Science, Health and Hygiene in the Late British Empire (London: I.B.Tauris), In Press.

Peer Reviewed Articles

"Tabloid Brand Medicine Chests: Selling Health and Hygiene for the British Tropical Colonies." Science as Culture, 17(3), 2008, 249-268.

"European Cloth and “Tropical” Skin: Clothing Material and British Ideas of Health and Hygiene in Tropical Climates." Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 83(3), 2009, 530-60.

"Colonial Mission and Imperial Tropical Medicine: Livingstone College, London, 1893-1914." Social History of Medicine, 23(3), 2010, 549-566.

"An All White Institution”: Defending Private Practice and the Formation of the West African Medical Staff." Medical History, 54(2), 2010, 237-54.

"The West African Medical Staff and the Administration of Imperial Tropical Medicine, 1902-14" The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 38(3), 2010, 419-439.

Book Chapters

"Local Mantsemei, Interpreters, and the Successful Eradication of Plague: The 1908 Plague Epidemic in Colonial Accra," in Ryan Johnson and Amna Khalid, eds., Public Health in the British Empire: Intermediaries, Subordinates, and Public Health Practice, 1850-1960. (New York: Routledge, 2011).