Research groups

We are one of the largest History departments in the UK, with leading scholars involved in a variety of innovative historical research areas.

43 academic teachers cover diverse themes across all periods and around the globe, with a special focus on Britain, Europe and China and particular strengths in East Asia, Africa, India, the Americas, and the Islamic world.  

These groups regularly meet to discuss members' ongoing research and forge interdisciplinary collaboration  

Groups and clusters

Cultural History of War

The research group Cultural History of War is a large and active research and teaching group formed around the Centre for the Cultural History of War.

It is dedicated to understanding the cultural attributes and representation of war in the modern world.

Our distinctive focus is to consider four interlocking themes:

  • The body and corpses in mass violence and Genocide
  • Population displacement
  • Humanitarianism
  • Collective memory and the writing of war experience

Centre for the Cultural History of War

The Centre for the Cultural History of War has held a range of public events in collaboration with local cultural and heritage institutions, including the Imperial War Museum North, Manchester Art Gallery, Whitworth Art Gallery and the Science Museum.  

At the core of the Centre is a team of established academic staff who co-ordinate and disseminate research both nationally and internationally. Historians in this cluster lead two book series with Manchester University Press: 'Cultural History of Modern War' and 'Humanitarianism, Key Debates and New Approaches'.

A new open-access MUP academic journal has been launched, with the same title 'Human Remains and Violence'. Several members of this group are directly involved in leading the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute.  

The European Research Council funded project Laughing in an emergency: Humour in contemporary art will examine the operation of humour in contemporary art from diverse disciplinary and methodological perspectives in a conference publication.  

This area of our research has had direct impact on our collaboration with NGOs and educationalists. Members of this group research in English and in numerous foreign languages. They have received major AHRC, ESRC, Leverhulme and EU funding over the last ten years. We support a new generation of research students and postdoctoral fellows in this field. 

Teaching

The Cultural History of War research cluster also forms an important part of the department’s teaching, and we are keen to involve our students in these activities. At Undergraduate level history of war is taught at level 2 and 3.  The courses offered by Professors Gatrell, Summerfield and Taithe, Drs Carden-Coyne, Dreyfus, Fuller, Geiger, Moore and Jones all touch on the central themes of this research group.

At MA level the cluster offers specialised courses on the history of war (War, Conflict and Culture), humanitarianism (The History of Humanitarian Aid) and public history (Public History: Historians and the Public Sphere) among others. The MA courses Film and History and Filming History has produced many prize winning short films which have been shown at the Imperial War Museum and in short film festivals.

Research group members are:

Group member profiles

They work with a diverse range of other projects and institutions, and appear regularly in the media:

Dr Ana Carden-Coyne

Dr Ana Carden-Coyne's monograph Reconstructing the Body: Classicism, Modernism and the First World War was published by Oxford University Press, in 2009.  Her next monograph is entitled The Politics of Wounds: Military Patients and Medical Power in the First World War, and is forthcoming with OUP. She is currently curating an art exhibition with Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery for the centenary of WW1, The Sensory War, 1914-2014, and organising a comprehensive programme of public events across the city. She is co-founder of the Disability History Group UK/Europe and is working with Kent University on a history of disabled veterans. She has a wider interest in disability in the global south, post conflict and genocide justice, and working with local and international NGOs in Cambodia. She has recently edited Gender and Conflict Since 1914: Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Palgrave, 2012).

Dr Jean-Marc Dreyfus

Dr Jean-Marc Dreyfus works on the Holocaust and is specialist of its economic aspects. He leads a major ERC funded research programmes "Corpses of mass violence and genocide" which casts new interdisciplinary light on the treatment of corpses in mass violence and genocides. This world leading project has led to a range of publications such as Cadavres impensables, cadavres impensés. Approaches méthodologiques du traitement des corps dans les violences de masse et les génocides (Paris : Petra, 2012) ; Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide: Destruction (forthcoming MUP, 2014); Corpses of Mass Violence and Genocide: Search and Identification (forthcoming, MUP, 2014). He organises and participates to outreach programmes on the Holocaust and Holocaust education. Particularly, he organises the annual workshop at the Imperial War Museum North.

Dr Pierre Fuller

Dr Pierre Fuller's research centres on the social and political networks behind disaster relief during the escalating civil wars of 1920s China. Based on county gazetteers, news tabloids, and other local sources, it aims to capture street-level responses to drought-famine, earthquake and war in urban and rural communities across North China and Manchuria. Building on his latest publication, 'North China Revisited: Unsung Native Relief in the Warlord Era, 1920-21' (Modern Asian Studies, May 2013), his work aims to provide a counterweight to the international and institutional relief dimensions traditionally emphasised in scholarly and popular treatments of disaster in 20th century East Asia. He is currently at the beginning stages of creating an online resource on disasters in Chinese history.

Prof Peter Gatrell

Prof Peter Gatrell's interest in the history of population displacement include collaborative research projects on population displacement, state-building and social identity in the aftermath of the First World War and the Second World War. He is also interested in the UN and global campaigns on behalf of refugees, and published Free World? The campaign to save the world's refugees, 1956-1963 (Cambridge University Press, 2011). His most recent monograph is entitled The Making of the Modern Refugee (Oxford University Press, 2013. He is involved in education and outreach activities in the field of refugee history and the history of humanitarianism. Together with Dr. Jenny Carson (Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute) he has produced a series of public exhibitions and teachers’ packs on ‘Refugees in the post-1945 world’, including relief work undertaken by the Society of Friends (Quakers). Peter Gatrell is on the editorial board of 1914-1918 online http://www.1914-1918-online.net/

Dr Till Geiger

Dr Till Geiger's research focuses on the political economy of the cold war. Building on his book Britain and the Economic Problem of the Cold War (Ashgate, 2004), he is currently researching the transformation of the British Warfare State in response to the cold war, the nuclear arms race, and decolonisation during the 1950s and early 1960s. This project has resulted in an important article on 'The British Warfare State and the Challenge of Americanisation of Western Defence' in European Review of History (2008). He is also interested in the development of American foreign assistance from primarily humanitarian aid in the immediate postwar period to the support for Western defence efforts and on a more limited basis to pro-western third world countries in the 1950s and co-edited a volume on Ireland, Europe and the Marshall Plan (Four Court Press, 2004). As part of the department's outreach activities, he has presented paper to numerous local and school history societies. 

Dr Max Jones

Dr Max Jones has particular interests in heroes, heroism, gender & masculinity; monarchy, empire & national identity; the cultural history of modern war; Antarctica, exploration & technology. Although primarily a British historian, he is interested in locating the British experience in context, through comparisons with Europe, America and the Empire. His early work focused on the British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott, RN, who died while returning from the South Pole in 1912.  His monograph The Last Great Quest was published in 2003 by Oxford University Press. In a number of publications, he has analysed the origins of Scott's Antarctic expeditions, and the response to his death, in order to offer insights into a range of research questions regarding exploration, empire and masculinity.  He is currently working on a new research project, which looks more broadly at the changing form and functions of national heroes over the last three centuries.  He is currently co-editing a forthcoming special issue ‘Post-Colonial Heroes’, with B. Sebe, B. Taithe, P. Yeandel, J. Strachan, devoted to the post-colonial fate of colonial heroes for the Journal of Commonwealth and Imperial History.

Dr Aaron Moore

Dr Aaron Moore's first monographWriting War, which analyses in a comparative framework the writings of Japanese, Chinese, and American soldiers during WWII has recently been published by Harvard University Press in 2013.  His second monograph project on childhood and adolescence in China, Japan, Britain, and Russia has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. He has received support from the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for his work on youth narratives of war in Russia, China, Britain, and Japan. He is currently working on three articles, one monograph, and one co-authored volume on wartime childhood and youth.

Professor Penny Summerfield

Professor Penny Summerfield's 2007 monograph, Contesting Home Defence: men, women and the Home Guard in Britain in the Second World War, led to her current project on The Second World War in Popular Memory 1945-1979. This interrogates the strength of the British desire to keep alive the memory of 1939-45, seeking to understand when that desire began, what fuelled it and what the memory of the war has signified. The project explores the evocation of the war in political discourse, popular culture and personal memory from 1945 to 1979, and identifies and seeks to explain the continuities and contradictions within and between these different types of cultural representation. Summerfield has so far published three articles and a book chapter on various aspects of this theme.

Professor Bertrand Taithe

Prof Bertrand Taithe's (cluster leader) most recent monograph was devoted to French colonial violence, The Killer Trail, and was published with Oxford University Press in 2011; he has since edited a collection in 2012 with Tom Crook and Rebecca Gill Evil, Barbarism and Empire: Britain and Abroad, c. 1830-2000.  He is currently working on a new edited volume with Pedro Ramos Pinto, The Impact of History, Routledge, 2014 and ‘Post-Colonial Heroes’, with B. Sebe, M. Jones, P. Yeandel, and J. Strachan for the Journal of Commonwealth and Imperial History. He has edited a recent special issue of French Historical Studies on Humanitarianism in French History.  His next monograph with Julie-Marie Strange and Sarah Roddy, ‘The Freedom of Charity: The Making of Modern Civil Society’ deals with the establishment of modern charities and humanitarian organisations in the Victorian and Edwardian era.  He is also collaborating on a range of contemporary debates on humanitarian aid with NGOs such as MSF.  He is a member of the scientific Committee of the Centre de Recherche sur l'action et les savoirs humanitaires (CRASH fondation MSF Paris) and is the director of the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute.

Histories of Humanitarianism

In partnership with the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI)

This research group explores histories of humanitarianism across different time periods and in a range of geographies. Our work highlights the global scope of histories of humanitarianism and their capacity to shed light on a multitude of issues and experiences, from the abstract to the most intimate.

It reflects Manchester’s distinctive expertise in histories of humanitarianism that cross disciplinary boundaries and which seek to engage with contemporary debates about the practices, policies, and representations of humanitarian action. We welcome interest from staff working on related themes elsewhere at the University of Manchester and from prospective research students.

People

Themes

The group’s interests take in themes such as:

  • Relief practices, such as responses to conflict, famine, and natural disasters, how local and transnational networks respond in times of crisis, and how such practices have evolved over time;
  • Displacement, both across borders and within them, mapping responses at multiple levels as well as in global and comparative perspectives, and seeking to understand the meanings and narratives of displacement for those who experience it;
  • Non-governmental organisations and international organisations, including the techniques these organisations use to raise funds, to communicate with different audiences, and to foster organisational cultures;
  • Ideas and cultures of care, exploring what motivates action on behalf of others, how different beliefs and ideologies have conceived and influenced such action, and what frameworks have enabled or obstructed it.

Work on these and other themes within humanitarian history has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the Leverhulme Trust, as well as by the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Humanities Strategic Investment Fund and its ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

Wider work

The group’s members actively engage in debates and collaborations outside of academia, working to open up histories of humanitarianism to wider audiences and to connect historical perspectives to current events.

A key platform for the dissemination of research on responses to natural disasters is DisasterHistory.org, convened by Pierre Fuller, and HumanitarianHistory.org is a pilot site under development by HCRI staff in consultation with Honorary Lecturer John Borton.

Conferences and seminars

Histories of humanitarianism feature prominently in workshops, conferences and seminars convened by HCRI, History, and the group’s members, including:

  • The Quest for Humanitarian Effectiveness? (HCRI conference in collaboration with Save the Children UK, 2015)
  • History of Chinese Disasters: State of the Field and Pathways to Public Engagement (History workshop in collaboration with the School of Oriental and African Studies, 2014)
  • Humanitarianism: Past, Present and Future (HCRI conference, 2012)
  • History department Research Seminar, which has recently featured papers by Emily Mark-Fitzgerald (Dublin) and Alan Lester (Sussex)

Recent publication highlights

For more publications please refer to individual members’ research profiles.

  • Davey, Eleanor. Idealism beyond Borders: The French Revolutionary Left and the Rise of Humanitarianism, 1954-1988. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
  • Field, Jessica. “Consumption in lieu of Membership: Reconfiguring Popular Charitable Action in Post-World War II Britain,” VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 27:2 (2016): 979-97.
  • Fuller, Pierre. “Writing Disaster: A Chinese Earthquake and the Pitfalls of Historical Investigation,” History Workshop Journal 80 (2015): 201-17.
  • Gatrell, Peter. The Making of the Modern Refugee, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Gatrell, Peter. “Refugees – What’s Wrong with History?” Journal of Refugee Studies, Advance Access (2016).
  • Hawkins, Jessica. “Historicizing the State in Development Theory: Michael Mann’s Model of Social Power,” Progress in Development Studies 14:3 (2014): 299-308.
  • Humbert, Laure. “French Politics of Relief and International Aid: France, UNRRA and the Rescue of Eastern European Displaced Persons in post-war Germany, 1945-1947,” Journal of Contemporary History, OnlineFirst (2015).
  • Ironside, Kristy. “Rubles for Victory: The Social Dynamics of State Fundraising on the Soviet Home Front,” Kritika 15:4 (2014): 799-828.
  • Kelly, Luke. “Humanitarian Sentiment and Forced Repatriation: The Administration of DPs in a Post-war Displaced Persons Camp,” Journal of Refugee Studies, Advance Access (2016).
  • Müller, Tanja. “Acts of Citizenship as a Politics of Resistance? Reflections on Realizing Concrete Rights within the Israeli Asylum Regime,” Citizenship Studies 20:1 (2015): 50-66.
  • Roddy, Sarah, Strange, Julie-Marie, and Taithe, Bertrand. “The Charity-mongers of Modern Babylon: Bureaucracy, Scandal and the Transformation of the Philanthropic Marketplace, c.1870-1912,” Journal of British Studies 54:1 (2015): 118-37.
  • Taithe, Bertrand. “The Cradle of the New Humanitarian System? International Work and European Volunteers at the Cambodian Border Camps, 1979–1993,” Contemporary European History 25:S2 (2016): 335-58.

Politics, Institutions and Policy Research Group

Research agenda and themes

Our research group focuses on the modern histories of politics, policy and its institutions broadly conceived, including political discourses, official and popular politics in their national, international and global formations. We continue to build on innovative research done at Manchester over a long period, augmenting the fruitful encounter between political and cultural history. Our research has regional breadth: we have specialists in Britain, continental Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union), the USA, and West Africa.

The group’s members belong to a wide range of international networks, and we have strong links (including a PhD exchange scheme) with the European University Institute and other leading institutions including the Freie Universität Berlin and the National University of Singapore. We are also connected with policy-makers and charities in order to relate our work to a broader public.

The group’s collective research agenda currently focuses on the following problématiques:

1.The Cultural History of Diplomacy. Colleagues regularly organise workshops related to ‘Cultures of Diplomacy’.

2. Historic Interventions into Child Welfare and Adoption Policy.

3.Universities and the Politics of Knowledge (in conjunction with the Research Group on University History and the History of Humanities Network).

4. The History of Political Thought and Intellectual History.

5. States and economies.

Current members

Christian Goeschel (research group leader), Frank Mort (research group leader), Chris Godden, Charlotte Faucher, Stuart Jones, Eloise Moss, Steven Pierce, Kerry Pimblott, Tom Tunstall Allcock, Aashish Velkar, Charlie Wildman, Emily Jones, and Jo Laycock.

 

 

 

 

The Bodies, Emotions and Material Culture Collective

The Bodies, Emotions and Material Collective – originally established as the Embodied Emotions research group in 2015—explores the interplay between bodies, emotions, objects and materials in past and present societies

Members of this research group are historians, art historians, archaeologists and curators with a shared interest in cross-disciplinary debates on the history of the body and gender studies, the history of emotions as well as material culture studies.

The group supports home-grown research in this area by drawing in postgraduates, postdoctoral scholars, academic colleagues in the humanities and sciences, as well as cultural collections staff. We have a strong focus on supporting Early Career Researchers, including PhD students, with an interest in the history of bodies, emotions and material culture.

The collective fosters a vibrant, interdisciplinary research community through longstanding seminar activities, as well as a variety of workshops, conferences and exhibitions. Associated projects and events have been supported, among others, by:

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • The Australian Research Council
  • The British Academy
  • The Economic and Social Research Council
  • The Leverhulme Trust
  • The Wellcome Trust.

The research collective has developed strong international partnerships with experts in the history of emotions at the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Excellence in the History of Emotions 1100–1800.

The group has built strong connections with

  • Manchester’s unique public collections;
  • The John Rylands Research Institute and Library;
  • The Whitworth Art Gallery;
  • The Manchester Museum;
  • The Manchester Art Gallery.

The collective is also engaged in a wide range of public engagement and impact activities, developing innovative pedagogic approaches, pushing established methodologies in material culture studies (e.g. microscopy) and fostering collaborations with laboratories as well as beyond the university.

Find out more about the Collective:

Medieval History

The Medieval History research network is reuniting scholars who specialise in various fields of medieval history and cover a geographical range from Wales, via England, Northern France and Germany, to Italy, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Themes

Our expertise includes themes such as mysticism, memory, piety, crusades, intercultural exchange, Norman expansion, Anglo-Saxon England, and pre-modern world trade. 

Members:

All of our Medieval historians also participate in teaching the interdisciplinary MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

Our joint research projects include textbook and cataloguing rare manuscripts held at the John Rylands Library. Further afield, we run two initiatives with The University of Melbourne, Australia: ‘Connecting Collections’ and ‘Foreign Bodies

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library projects

Foreign Bodies  

Artem longam, vitam brevem esse dicitur. Et vere: ars historica est ars longissima. Ergo tempus non perfundere sed ad lucrum solidum dedicare sapientes studeant. Cum solum aeones et locos remotos transeundus/a oceanumque historiae completum navigandus/a historicus/a historiae naturam intelligere possit aetas mediaevalis studiare non solum pulchre sed necesse est.

Don't worry - we also have English speaking staff (and between us Anglo-Saxon, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Arabic and Ancient Greek). We are looking forward to hearing from you and speaking to you - in whatever language you prefer.

Race, Roots, and Resistance Collective

The Race, Roots, and Resistance group is a democratic collective of staff, students, and community members dedicated to the critical study of race and its impact on the lived experiences of people across temporal and spatial boundaries. It is a multidisciplinary group with broad specialisations in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and where relevant the Natural Sciences.

Research themes include:

  • the historical construction, evolution and operation of ‘race’;
  • the social, economic, political, and cultural legacies of racial oppression;
  • the formation of strategies and movements to resist and transform racial regimes by people of colour.  

The group’s student-led zine ‘In: Colour’ is created by, and for, BAME creatives with a focus on issues of race, identity and culture. 

The Race, Roots, and Resistance Collective meets regularly throughout the academic year to share research findings and host public events to foster wider community awareness and understanding.

The collective has hosted events for students with the University’s Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre, as well as a Symposium for university students, staff and leading scholars in the fields of African Diaspora, African American, and Black British history at the Global Black Freedom Movements Network (2019). In addition, members have worked with national and international partners, including The National Trust and the BBC.  

Current members:

  • Dr Jesus Chairez-Garza
  • Chairez-Garza,
  • Dr Misha Ewen
  • Prof Anindita Ghosh
  • Dr Frances Houghton
  • Dr Eloise Moss
  • Dr Kerry Pimblott

World History

Clio's wings span the globe and the millennia. Our world history network is a meeting place for advanced researchers, from across the disciplines, interested in world history, currently reuniting researchers from History, English and American Studies, Chinese Studies and Japanese Studies.

We reunite expertise in different thematic fields and world regions with particular strengths in the histories of the city, migration, gender and war in transcultural perspective and the entangled histories of Europe, the Middle East, India, and China in the early modern and modern period against the backdrop of the Great Divergence debate.

We discuss our research in bi-weekly meetings and engage in joint research projects.

Research network members

Events

The World History cluster meets bi-weekly during the semester to discuss research papers of network members. Please contact the convenor (see above) if you are interested in joining us.

Past events

World History, in cooperation with Chinese Studies, has previously organised the following events:

  • Wednesday, 13 February 2013 - Public lecture with Kenneth Pomeranz 'The Great Divergence'
  • Wednesday, 17 April 2013 - Public lecture with Prof Prasannan Parthasarathi 'Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not'
  • Tuesday, 9 July 2013 - World History workshop 'Connecting Currents: Histories of Migration in China and the Pacific'
  • Friday, 11 - Sunday, 13 April 2014 'Reconfiguring Divergence' in Leipzig (in cooperation with the Centre for Area Studies at the University of Leipzig)
  • Tuesday, 6 May 2014, 4pm, Mansfield Cooper building G19,'The End of Empire? Disease, Population and Technology in the Age of Emergent Globalization' workshop.

Modern British Studies

Modern British Studies at Manchester draws together diverse expertise from within the department of History at Manchester in social, cultural, political and economic history.

Despite the wide-ranging interests of members, the cluster has a series of intellectual and methodological meeting points for engagement, debate and collaboration. Interests include:

  • micro history;
  • life stories;
  • memory;
  • migration;
  • the relationship between high and popular culture;
  • personal life;
  • consumption;
  • cosmopolitan cultures. 

Research network members include:

Many members of the Modern British History network are actively involved in public history and engagement.

Much of our research connects with that of historians across the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, in the subject-areas of Classics and Ancient History, Archaeology, Art History and Visual Studies, Religions and Theology, and Languages.

Additionally, we collaborate and converse with historians in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM) and elsewhere. Interdisciplinarity is also institutionalised in the School's Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts and Languages (CIDRAL).