Dr Sonia Tycko

Lecturer in the History of Labour


I am a historian of early modern England and the Atlantic world, with a focus on social and legal history. I received my B.A. from Columbia University and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before joining Edinburgh, I was the Kinder Junior Research Fellow in Atlantic History at the Rothermere American Institute, the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Kinder Institute at the University of Missouri.

Undergraduate teaching

Revolutionary Britain (Special Subject)

Slavery and Forced Labour in the British Atlantic World (Honours Elective)

Historical Skills and Methods II: Voices from Below in the Early English Atlantic World

Early Modern History: A Connected World (Pre-honours)

The Global Economy (Pre-honours)

Global Connections (Pre-honours)

Historian's Toolkit (Pre-honours)

Postgraduate teaching

Freedom and Coercion in the Making of the Atlantic World

Economic and Social Theory for Historical Analysis

Professional Skills for Historians

Themes in the Historiography of the Americas

Research summary


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Caribbean
  • North America


  • Comparative & Global History
  • Labour
  • Society
  • Urban
  • War


  • Early Modern

Research interests

  • historical concepts of consent, persuasion, and free will
  • social control and labour coercion
  • freedom of contract
  • documented and undocumented mobility

Current research interests

I am currently completing my first book manuscript, ‘Captured Consent: Contract Labour in English Charity, Colonization, and Warfare, 1600–1700’. At the heart of the book are transatlantic indentured servants, who I study in comparison and connection to apprenticed pauper children, conscripted soldiers, and prisoners of war put to work in England. The book argues that exploitative early modern labour practices played a significant role in the development of the concepts of freedom of contract and the sanctity of an individual’s consent.

Knowledge exchange

I am the director of the Edinburgh Centre for Global History.

I convene an international research network, "Historicizing Consent: What did it mean to agree in the late medieval and early modern world?" with co-convenor Tamar Herzog. Further details including a collaborative bibliography are available here: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/historicizingconsent.


Affiliated research centres


Tycko, Sonia. “Bound and Filed: A Seventeenth-Century Service Indenture from a Scattered Archive.” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 19, no. 1 (Winter 2021): 166–90. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/780967


Tycko, Sonia. “The Legality of Prisoner of War Labour in England, 1648–1655.” Past & Present 246, no. 1 (February 2020): 35–68. https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtz031.

Winner of the Sutherland Prize, American Society for Legal History


Project Director, “America and Race: A Bibliography for UK History Undergraduates,” https://www.rai.ox.ac.uk/america-and-race-bibliography