Dr.  Alma Igra

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I am a historian of internationalism and Modern Britain, who focuses on nature and governance in the 20th century. I am particularly interested in the history of nature and standards: how the historical moments in which people tried to define nature made them redefine humanity, too? I completed my PhD in 2020 at Columbia University, where I was also a Hayman Center Fellow and a member of the New York–Cambridge Training Collaboration in modern British history.

My dissertation Farm to Pharmacy: Nutrition, Animals, and Governance in Britain 1870-1945 investigates how scientific nutrition and the birth of new food standards in Britain affected both the international order and the environment. The dissertation reveals that even when the discipline moved from farms to pharmacies, with new products like vitamin supplements, ideas about the environment and animals persistently shaped the science of food. Through five pivotal case studies of nutrition experiments in Scotland, Iraq, Vienna, Geneva, and England, my research shows how Britain became a hub for new experts defining international food standards. In other words, it explains the rise of nutrition not only in terms of the history of a new scientific discipline but also as a uniquely British contribution to international politics.

My second monograph will study empire and environmental history from a different set of questions and archives, focusing on the imperial scope of British animal protection. Although historians have considered organizations like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) mostly on a domestic scale, my research indicates that animal charity was a profoundly imperial movement, and it gained momentum in the late colonial and post-colonial era. I look at the variety of forms of animal protection – charities, legislation, hunting regulations, wildlife preservation – and how those forms intersected with colonial culture.


Mandate of Compassion: Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Palestine, 1919–1939,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 47: 4 (August 2019), 773-799. (link)

“Kosher Life: The Kosher Meat Controversy and The Socialist Cooperative Restaurant in Tel Aviv, 1934-1940” (Hebrew) in Encounters: History and Anthropology of the Israeli-Palestinian Space, 115-146. Jerusalem, Israel: Van Leer Institute Press, 2019. (link)