Dr Katherine Smoak Radburn

Dr Katherine Smoak Radburn

Department of History
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow

Contact details

Address
Room 235, Arts Building

I joined University of Birmingham in September 2018 as a Research Fellow. My current research project Counterfeiting Empire: Money, Crime, and Politics in the British Atlantic World (COINE) is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 796487.

Qualifications

  • PhD, Johns Hopkins University
  • MA, Johns Hopkins University

Biography

Katherine Smoak Radburn is a historian of early America and the wider British Atlantic world. She completed her Ph.D. in History at Johns Hopkins University, where her research was supported by numerous institutions, including the American Council of Learned Societies and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.  Her current project (based on her PhD thesis) is a social, cultural, and political history of counterfeiting in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world. Her article “The Weight of Necessity: Counterfeit Coins in the British Atlantic World, c. 1760-1800” published in the William and Mary Quarterly in July 2017 won the WMQ Richard L. Morton Prize.

Research

Throughout the eighteenth century, the British Empire, much like its European counterparts, struggled to provide a uniform currency both at home and in the colonies. Instead, a combination of British and other European coins of varying quality circulated throughout the empire, joined, in the North American colonies, by the first government-backed paper money in the Western world. Experimentation and a lack of standardization thus characterized the money supply in this period, and these qualities encouraged and facilitated endemic counterfeiting throughout the British Atlantic world. My current project recovers how men and women took advantage of an increasingly connected world to engage in an early form of organized crime.  It considers counterfeiters’ roles in driving economic development and integration throughout the eighteenth-century British empire. It traces counterfeiting’s enmeshment in questions of money and governance, especially during the American Revolution and age of revolutions. And it considers how the perennial threat of counterfeits shaped how individuals evaluated money and each other in everyday commercial transactions.  The project thus argues that counterfeiting was a potent and overlooked crime that had wide-ranging implications for market development, cultures of commerce, and imperial governance in the eighteenth century.  With generous support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 796487, I am preparing a monograph, provisionally entitled Circulating Counterfeits: Making Money and its Meanings in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World.

Flag of the European UnionMarie Curie Logo

Publications

“The Weight of Necessity: Counterfeit Coins in the British Atlantic World, c. 1760-1800” William and Mary Quarterly, July 2017: 467-502.

View all publications in research portal