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 and is also a faculty member at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. 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. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar.

Bruce-Lockhart’s research critically examines the afterlives of colonial carceral institutions, particularly prisons and detention camps.  Her work historicizes the ways in which the prison became a global institution, linking this to wider discussions about and movements for decolonization and prison abolition. Bruce-Lockhart’s recent 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. She is also a co-editor of Decolonising State and Society in Uganda: The Politics of Knowledge and Public Life. Her previous research looked at the connections between gender and punishment in colonial Kenya, focusing specifically on the detention camp system created by the British in the 1950s.

She is also working on several comparative and collaborative projects. The first critically analyzes colonial prison policies and practices – as well as their long-term impact – in multiple former British colonies on the African continent. Another examines why governments around the globe have released prisoners en masse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bruce-Lockhart is also working on a project that traces the role of the United Nations and other global governance organizations in shaping international penal discourses and policies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and how penal norms – and the prison’s very existence – were challenged and contested.

In her research, teaching, and community engagement, Bruce-Lockhart focuses on how history can inform and impact ongoing struggles for justice and liberation, including through through her work on a reparations case between Kenyans who experienced colonial violence in the 1950s and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, contributing to a report for the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and community work on prisoners’ rights and prison abolition. Her teaching is grounded on student-centered learning and ongoing engagement with critical, anti-racist, and decolonial pedagogies. She is 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: 

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

Selected Awards and Honours

Recent Publications