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Peter Baldwin


Contact Information

Office  7240 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-396-0108
Peter Baldwin is interested especially in the historical development of the modern state––a broad field that has led him in many different directions.

Two aspects of his work unify it. First, he has attempted to understand contemporary issues in a long historical perspective, whether that be the class coalitions that cemented the modern welfare state, the 19C public health strategies that provided the template by which the AIDS epidemic was fought a century later, or the battles over intellectual property stretching back three centuries that inform, indeed determine, our current battles over copyright, downloading and internet piracy. Second, he has studied the development of the state trans-nationally, using detailed and often archival sources in half a dozen languages to marry a broad comparative approach to rigorous empiricism. His books have dealt above all with France, Germany, Britain, Sweden, Denmark and the United States. He has published works on the comparative history of the welfare state, on social policy more broadly and on public health. Other interests have included Nazi Germany and historiography. His latest book is a trans-national political history of copyright from 1710 to the present. He has projects underway on the historical development of privacy, on the history of honor, and also a global history of the state.


PhD History Department, Harvard University, 1986

MA  History Department, Harvard University, 1980

BA  Philosophy Department, History Department, Yale University, 1978

Selected Publications


The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle (Princeton University Press, 2014)

The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Disease and Democracy: The Industrialized World Faces AIDS (University of California Press, Berkeley, and the Milbank Memorial Fund, New York, 2005)

Contagion and the State in Europe, 1830-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State, 1875-1975 (Cambridge University Press, 1990)

Reworking the Past: Hitler, the Holocaust and the Historians' Debate , edited with an introduction (Beacon Press, 1990)


“Smug Britannia: The Dominance of (the) English in Current History Writing and Its Pathologies,”(with response by Richard J. Evans and a riposte in turn to that) Contemporary European History, 20, 3 (2011)

“America: A Reality Check,” Kurt Almqvist and Alexander Linklater, eds., On the Idea of America: Perspectives from the Engelsberg Seminar 2009 (Stockholm, 2010)

Globalization and the Welfare State,” in Benjamin Z. Kedar, ed., Studies in Comparative History (Jerusalem, 2009)

Can There Be a Democratic Public Health? Fighting AIDS in the Industrialized World,” in Susan Gross Solomon, Patrick Zylberman and Lion Murard, eds.,On Shifting Ground: Health and Space in Twentieth Century Europe (University of Rochester Press, 2008)

"Beyond Weak and Strong: Rethinking the State in Comparative Policy History," Journal of Policy History, 17, 1 (2005)

"The Victorian State in Comparative Perspective,” in Peter Mandler, ed., Liberty and Authority in Victorian England (Oxford University Press, 2006)

Comparing and Generalizing: Why All History is Comparative, Yet No History is Sociology,” in Deborah Cohen and Maura O’Connor, eds., Comparison and History: Europe in Cross-National and Comparative Perspective (Routledge, 2004)

"The Return of the Coercive State? Behavioral Control in Multicultural Society,” in John A. Hall et al., eds., The Nation-State Under Challenge:Autonomy and Capacity in a Changing World (Princeton University Press, 2003)

"Welfare State and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization," in Andreas Føllesdal and Peter Koslowski, eds., Restructuring the Welfare State: Ethical Issues of Social Security in an International Perspective (Springer-Verlag, 1997)

"The Past Rise of Social Security: Historical Trends and Patterns" in Herbert Giersch, ed. Reforming the Welfare State (Springer-Verlag, 1997)

"Can We Define a European Welfare State Model?" in Bent Greve, ed.,Comparative Welfare Systems: The Scandinavian Model in a Period of Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 1996); revised version, “Der europäische Wohlfahrtsstaat: Konstruktionsversuche in der zeitgenössischen Forschung,” in Zeitschrift für Sozialreform , 49, 1 (2003).

"Welfare and social security, promotion of," in Seymour Martin Lipset, ed., The Encyclopedia of Democracy (Congressional Quarterly Books,1996)

"Beveridge in the Longue Durée," in John Ditch et al., eds., Beveridge and Social Security: An International Retrospective (Oxford University Press, 1994)

"The Welfare State for Historians," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34, 4 (October 1992)

"Die sozialen Ursprünge des Wohlfahrtsstaates," Zeitschrift für Sozialreform, 36, 11/12 (November/December 1990)

"Les classes moyennes et l'Etat-protecteur de l'après-guerre: Le cas français et le cas allemand," in Mission Interministérielle Recherche Expérmentation, Les comparaisons internationales des politiques et des systemes de sécurité sociale: Colloque de recherche, (Paris, nd); reprinted as "Class Interests and the Postwar Welfare State in Europe: A Historical Perspective," International Social Security Review, 3 (1990)

"Social Interpretations of Nazism: Renewing a Tradition," Journal of Contemporary History, 25, 1 (January 1990)

"Class, Interest and the Welfare State: A Reply to Sven E. Olsson," International Review of Social History, 3 (1989)

"Postwar Germany in the Longue Durée," German Politics and Society, 16 (Spring 1989)

"The Scandinavian Origins of the Social Interpretation of the Welfare State,"
Comparative Studies in Society and History, 31, 1 (1989)

"How Socialist is Solidaristic Social Policy? Swedish Postwar Reform as a Case in Point," International Review of Social History, 2 (1988)

"Zionist and Non-Zionist Jews in the Last Years Before the Nazi Regime," Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook XXVII, 1982

"Clausewitz in Nazi Germany," Journal of Contemporary History, 1981, reprinted in Walter Laqueur, ed., The Second World War: Essays in Military and Political History (London 1981)

"Liberalism, Nationalism and Degeneration: The Case of Max Nordau," Central European History, 13, 2 (1980)


Comparative history of modern Europe and the United States.