Katherine Bruce-Lockhart

Assistant Professor

Katherine Bruce-Lockhart Head Shot

Katherine Bruce-Lockhart (she/her) is an Assistant Professor in History at the University of Waterloo. Previously, she was a SSHRC/CHCI Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute and the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

My research critically examines the afterlives of colonial carceral institutions, particularly prisons and detention camps. I historicize the ways in which the prison became a global institution, linking this to wider discussions about and movements for decolonization and prison abolition. My book, Carceral Afterlives: Prisons, Detention, and Punishment in Postcolonial Uganda, brings together social history, political history, and critical prison studies to analyze how prisons and other colonial carceral spaces persisted after independence and critique their ongoing existence. I have also done work on how gendered perceptions of deviancy impacted colonial punishment in Kenya, focusing specifically on the detention camp system in the 1950s.

I am currently working on several new projects. The first examines why governments around the globe have released prisoners en masse throughout history, as has been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another traces the role of the United Nations in shaping international penal discourses and policies in the second half of the twentieth century. I am also working on a comparative study that critically analyzes British colonial penal policies and practices on the African continent, and I am co-editing a special issue of Punishment & Society entitled “African Penal Histories in Global Perspective.”

In my research, teaching, and community engagement, I focus on how history can inform and impact ongoing struggles for justice and liberation, such as through my work on a reparations case between Kenyans who experienced colonial violence in the 1950s and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, archival accessibility projects in Uganda, and community work on prisoners’ rights and prison abolition. My teaching is grounded on student-centered learning and ongoing engagement with critical, anti-racist, and decolonial pedagogies. I am part of the Department of History’s Anti-Racism Taskforce (HART).


  • PhD History, University of Cambridge
  • MSc. African Studies, University of Oxford 
  • BA (Honours), University of Toronto 

Research, Teaching, and Supervision Interests: 

  • Global History
  • History of prisons and punishment
  • Critical Prison Studies
  • African History 
  • Gender History 
  • Social History
  • Critical Archive Studies
  • Oral History

Courses Taught: 

  • HIST263 - The Age of Revolution: Europe in the 19th Century  
  • HIST322 - Global History of the Detention Camp
  • HIST323 - Global History of the Prison
  • HIST422 - Incarceration and Resistance in South Africa During Apartheid
  • HIST605 - Global Governance in Historical Perspective 

Selected Awards and Honours



Journal Articles and Book Chapters: 

Media and Reports: 

    University of Waterloo