Dr Oscar Webber

Dr Oscar Webber


I am an environmental historian whose research focuses on human responses to nature-induced disasters. Though they have received little attention from historians, disasters are the product of historical processes and, as such, are ripe for historical investigation. I am specifically interested in exploring the processes of, and motivations behind, relief and aid giving. In many cases, who receives aid and the form in which it is provided can reveal and magnify the societal hierarchies, divisions and tensions that historians so frequently seek to investigate. My doctoral thesis titled ''Practical sympathy' - Disaster relief in the British Caribbean, 1812-1907'  investigated disaster relief in a broad context, considering both immediate responses and the more long-term economic responses of the Colonial Office.

I completed my undergraduate History degree in 2014, following which I completed an MA in Modern History at the University of Leeds in 2015. I completed my thesis in November 2018. As a short-term postdoctoral fellow at the Leeds Arts & Hummanities Research Institute, I am now working on an article examining the tenures of British governors William Reid and Sir Charles Bruce and their respective responses to hurricanes.


  • 2019 - An intolerance of idleness: British disaster “relief” in the Caribbean 1831-1907, New West Indian Guide, forthcoming.
  • 2018 - 'The Plantation’s role in enhancing hurricane vulnerability in the nineteenth-century British Caribbean', Alternatuas, 5:2 (2019), pp.30-43.
  • 2017 - Book review ‘Caribbean Globalisations since 1492’, Caribbean Quarterly.
  • 2017 - ‘Weathering Storms’, History Today & TIME.com.

Conference papers:

  • 2018 - 'An intolerance of idleness: Disaster ‘relief’ in the nineteenth-century British Caribbean', Testing Toleration in Britain's Empire, Birkbeck University
  • 2017 - ‘Environmental History and Public Engagement in Europe’, Biennial European Environmental History conference
  • 2017 - 'Barbados, plantation agriculture and embedding vulnerability', CARISCC, University of Leeds
  • 2016 - 'Historicising Disaster', ERSC PG Conference, University of York
  • 2016 - 'The Jamaican Earthquake of 1907', Historians Workshop, University of Leeds
  • 2014 - ‘Civic engagement schemes for students’, Teaching and Learning, University of York


  • University of Leeds 110 Anniversary Scholarship for Doctoral Study (2015 - 2018).
  • British Society for the History of Science research grant.
  • Economic History Society research grant.

Community Engagement:

I am very passionate about educational outreach. I have worked both as an Educational Outreach Fellow for the University of Leeds and as a tutor for the Brilliant Club delivering History and Politics programmes in schools with low progression into Higher Education in the North East of England.


  • BA History
  • MA Modern History
  • PhD History