I'm a lecturer in Modern History. I'm originally from South Lanarkshire but I ventured northwards to Aberdeen in September 2018, after I'd been a lecturer in Twentieth-Century British History at the University of Cambridge, which was also where I did my undergraduate and postgraduate studies. I studied history and won the Cambridge Historical Society prize for best Part 2 dissertation...after a year not really doing much at home I returned to complete an MPhil in Modern European History (which I got a distinction on and subsequently published in the English Historical Review).
After this I finished my PhD on the British New Left in October 2016, and now having once more escaped for home (ish) I'm working on turning this into a book. I'm also planning a second project on the idea of the 'metropolitan elite' in late 20th century Britain, and what light the development of this concept sheds on socio-economic, cultural and political change in recent decades.
Apart from this - as you can see by my picture on the staff noticeboard if you come and visit our department - I'm a Rangers fan, but this doesn't stop me from being involved in left politics as a commissioning editor for Renewal: A Journal of Social Democracy.
I'm interested in the intellectual, cultural and political history of 20th century Scotland, and Britain. My PhD looked at debates on the British left about social change and the future of socialism in the post-war period. As well as reconstructing the intellectual background to these discussions, my thesis charted how left-wing intellectuals inhabited self-consciously modernistic, urban and 'cosmopolitan' personas from the early 1960s onwards, whereby theory - and indeed simply 'thinking' in and of itself - became their dominant mode of political praxis. It thus helped to explain changes in Britain's class structure in this period, and also why some of the contemporary Left feels itself estranged from areas of the country they have now belatedly recast as being 'left behind'.
My next project will take off from this conclusion by examining how the idea of the 'metropolitan elite' arose in British political and culture discourse in the late 20th century, looking at how politicians increasingly figured the city as the avatar of progress in the age of the financialisation of the economy and 'neo-liberalism', but how other movements, groups, artists and activists used the idea to critique mainstream politics and to offer alternative visions of belonging, culture, and the future. I think it will show that the crude characterisation of Britain as structured by a divide behind 'cosmopolitans' and those rooted 'somewhere' is false, and what we instead see is a diversity of cultural identities, in a country nonetheless starkly divided by socio-economic (moreso than imagined 'cultural') inequality.
I'm also still interested in the history of the left. In particular my Level 3 course 'People Power' charts how many new social movement/left activists in Scotland gravitated towards nationalism in the 1970s and onwards - I'm keen to continue examining this through a local case study of Aberdeen People's Press, a socialist community press and bookshop run in Aberdeen in the 1970s. I'm also writing a paper on the early life and thought of Tom Nairn, his involvement in the London 'underground' press and how this related to his later turn towards nationalist politics.
Level 1: 'Making History', '20th Century Europe'
Level 2: 'Birth of Modernity Politics, Culture and Science in Europe, 1700-1870', 'Kingship, Clearances & Conflict: Debates in Scottish History'
Level 3: 'Thinking History', 'People Power: New Social Movements in post-war Scotland' (which I designed and coordinate)
Level 4: 'History in Practice'
Level 5: 'Scotland's Millenium', 'Presenting Historical Research' (which I also coordinate).
I also supervise undergraduate and M.Litt dissertations in Modern British and/or Modern Scottish history and would be very happy to hear from students interested in pursuing dissertations in these fields.
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