I became fascinated by history at an early age. Reading at school, watching television, and listening to family stories gave me the sense of the past as a set of stories and narratives to be untangled. The cold war was an obvious area of study for me. I remember watching the Berlin Wall fall on TV (I was 9 years old). As a sports-mad child, I was bewildered as the shifting political landscape was mapped out onto sporting events. West Germany becoming Germany, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia fragmenting. Through football championships and Olympics, the world was changing in front of me. Now, as a professional historian, I am keen to explore how such massive political and cultural changes are understood by ordinary people.
I studied history at Queen Mary, University of London, receiving my PhD in 2006. After this, I spent two years teaching at the University of Sheffield, a year as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manchester, before spending three years at Teesside University. I joined the History Department at the University of Essex in September 2013. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and serve on the Peer Review College of the Economic and Social Research Council. During the Summer Term of 2014 I was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Chanage (CRESC) at the Open University.
My research covers the history of Britain since 1939, focusing on the cultural and political impact of war and conflict on the home front. I have written on cold war civil defence and security, the cultural impact of nuclear weapons, and murder in 1940s Britain. In general, I am interested in the transformation of British life in the mid-to-late twentieth century, and the way historical memory shapes peoples sense of the world. I would love to hear from anyone interested in persuing a research degree.
I am currently working on a new book charting the impact of the cold war on concepts and experiences of citizenship, to be calledThe Cold War and the Remaking of British Citizenship. This will examine the changing ways the public interacted with the state in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, in particular the importance of uniformed service, peace activism, and the experience of communism and anti-communism.Along with my colleague, Dr Peter Gurney, I am conducting a oral history project on the experience of National Service in postwar war Britain funded by the Leverhulme Trust.In addition to this research, I have recently copublished an edited collection, with Professor Benjamin Ziemann of the University of Sheffield, on international responses to nuclear conflict:Understanding the Imaginary War(Manchester University Press, 2016).