We use race and gender alongside other key analytical categories, such as class, sexuality, age, ethnicity and nationality, in order to understand how these various overlapping systems of power shaped (and continue to shape) people’s lives, opportunities and identities.

We are also interested in how the categories of ‘race’ and ‘gender’ have been historically constructed and when and how they are contested and transformed. Interdisciplinary in approach, our scholarship draws on a range of sources (from the manuscript records of early modern witch-trials to oral history interviews with women in 20th-century Britain), affording rich and textured evidence on the contested meanings of identity in history.

Research strands

There are three major strands to our research within this cluster.

  • Research on the history of the African Diaspora, with a particular interest in the transatlantic slave trade; the African roots of Brazilian Capoeira; the legal and humanitarian dimensions of the infamous Zong massacre; and diasporic identities as expressed in African biographical narratives from the era of the slave trade.
  • Gender and identity in early modern Europe, with particular focus on witchcraft beliefs and witch-persecution in Germany; the gendering of space and its use in English households and communities; and the medical and healing practices in families, communities, and professions in France and Britain.
  • Research into the interaction of ideas and experiences of body, mind and self in 20th-century Britain, with particular focus on the effects of post-war contraception methods on women’s experiences, understandings of bodily health, and emotional wellbeing.

Research supervision

Our expert staff are happy to supervise postgraduate research in all of these areas. Please contact them directly for more information about supervision, or explore our research degrees and what to expect from a degree in the Department of History. You can also find out how to apply for postgraduate research at Essex, or use research finder if you are interested in searching for further research opportunities at Essex.


Our members

Professor, School of Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Research interests: New World slavery; The transatlantic slave trade; Africans in the Americas; Transnational mercantile networks and connections; Maritime history; Testimony, autobiography, and narrative in African and Atlantic history; Global and transnational approaches to history
Professor, School of Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Research interests: History of gender; History of psychology and psychoanalysis; History of subjectivity; History of war and trauma; Historiography and historical theory
Professor, School of Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Research interests: History of slavery and post-emancipation societies; Agrarian and peasant history; Political history of Nineteenth and twentieth century Brazil; Latin American popular culture; Capoeira - combat games and martial arts in the Black Atlantic
Professor, School of Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Research interests: The social and cultural history of early modern Germany.; Gender in early modern Europe.; Witchcraft, magic and witch-trials, especially in early modern Germany and England; Witch-trials in fiction, commemorative practice, and public history.
Faculty Dean Postgraduate (Humanities) - Senior Lecturer (R), School of Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Research interests: Britain and France, ca 1600-1800; Digital History; Medicine and Science; Supernatural; Body; Gender History; Food

History degrees

Are you looking to study a history degree at undergraduate, masters or PhD level? In the Department of History, we have a variety of courses to choose from which cover a broad range of subjects. These include; modern history, art history, criminology, economics, literature, human rights, international relations, politics, film, and culture and society.

A degree in history is essential in helping to shape our future. Explore our courses, or visit our subject area to find out more about the degrees and modules that Essex has to offer.


Explore careers in history
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Discover our cutting edge research at Essex

Use our research finder to explore research supervision opportunities, and learn more about the exciting research projects, groups and centres our academics and students are actively involved in at the University of Essex. You can also search for publications and seek out further opportunities for research collaboration. Simply search for your area of interest.

Explore our research
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Get in touch
Professor Matthias Röhrig Assunção Cluster Lead