Location Principal's Office
I am a social historian with interests in the history of humanitarianism, consumer society and social activism, both in Britain and globally. I did my PhD at Lancaster University before spending nearly twenty years at the University of Birmingham. I joined Queen Mary in 2016 as Vice-Principal for Humanities and Social Sciences. I am a co-editor of Past and Present.
My research interests are in the general area of modern British history. I initially worked on popular culture and consumer society, before moving on to study the history of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs)
With Nicholas Crowson I ran a Leverhulme-Trust funded project, NGOs in Britain. This project built on the online Database of Archives of Non-Governmental Organisations and its principal findings are contained in The Politics of Expertise.
With Kieran Connell, I created an archive of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, established in 1964 by Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall. We subsequently went on to exhibit the photographic work of Janet Mendelson, a student at the CCCS in the late 1960s. Her images were shown at the IKON and published as Varna Road
Currently I am working on a history of British humanitarian charities, particularly their role in the alleviation of global poverty at a time of decolonisation and development.
I welcome enquiries from students interested in most aspects of modern British history. Particular fields include:
- Consumer society in Britain and the rest of the world
- Non-government organisations and civil society groups
- Smoking in British Popular Culture, 1800-2000 (Manchester: Manchester UP, 2000).
- Consumerism in Twentieth-Century Britain: The Search for a Historical Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
- Choice and Justice: Forty Years of the Malaysian Consumer Movement (Penang: Universiti Sains Malaysia Press, 2009).
- Prosperity for All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalisation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009).
- (with Nicholas Crowson, Jean-François Mouhot & James McKay), A Historical Guide to NGOs in Britain: Charities, Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector since 1945 (Basingstoke: Palgrave 2012).
- (with James McKay, Nicholas Crowson & Jean-François Mouhot), The Politics of Expertise: How NGOs Shaped Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Edited books and special issues:
- (with Martin Daunton) The Politics of Consumption: Material Culture and Citizenship in Europe and America (Oxford: Berg, 2001).
- (with Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel and Alain Chatriot) Au nom du consommateur: la consommation entre mobilisation sociale et politique publique dans les pays occidentaux au XX siécle (Paris: La Découverte, 2004).
- (with Marie-Emmanuelle Chessel and Alain Chatriot) The Expert Consumer: Associations and Professionals in Consumer Society (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006).
- (with James McKay and Nicholas Crowson) NGOs in Contemporary Britain: Non-state Actors in Society and Politics since 1945 (London: Palgrave, 2009).
- (with James McKay), The Ages of Voluntarism: Evolution and Change in Modern British Voluntary Action (Oxford: British Academy/Oxford University Press, 2011).
- (with Rana Mitter) Transnationalism and Contemporary Global History, Past and Present Supplement 8, 2013.
- (with Kevin O’Sullivan), Humanitarianisms in Context: Histories of Non-State Actors, from the Local to the Global, special issue of European Review of History, 23: 1-2, 2016.
- (with Kieran Connell), Cultural Studies 50 Years On (London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016).
- (with John Arnold and Jan Ruger), History Matters: Writing History for the 21st Century (Oxford UP, forthcoming, 2017).
- (with Christopher Moores and Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite), New Times revisited: Britain in the 1980s, special issue of Contemporary British History, 2017
- (with Kieran Connell), CCCS: Fifty Years On (Birmingham: MAC, 2014).
- (with Kieran Connell & Jonathan Watkins), On Varna Road: The Photography of Janet Mendelsohn (Birmingham: IKON, 2016).
- ‘“Tabs”, “Fags” and the “Boy Labour Problem” in Late Victorian and Edwardian England,’ Journal of Social History, 28:3, 1995, pp. 587-608.
- ‘The female consumer and the politics of consumption in twentieth-century Britain’, Historical Journal, 45:1, 2002, pp. 103-128.
- ‘The fable of the sheep; or private virtues, public vices: the consumer revolution of the twentieth century’, Past and Present, 176, 2002, pp. 222-256.
- ‘The legacy of luxury: moralities of consumption since the eighteenth century’, Journal of Consumer Culture, 4:1, 2004, pp. 101-123.
- (with Malgorzata Mazurek), ‘Consumerism, Solidarity and communism: consumer protection and the consumer movement in Poland’, Journal of Contemporary History, 42:2, 2007, pp. 315-343.
- ‘Social activism in an age of consumption: the organised consumer movement’, Social History, 32:2, 2007, pp. 121-143.
- ‘The consumer movement and civil society in Malaysia’, International Review of Social History, 52:3, 2007, pp. 373-406.
- ‘The death of consumer society’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 18, 2008, pp. 211-236.
- ‘Politics is ordinary: non-governmental organisations and political participation in contemporary Britain’, Twentieth-Century British History, 22, 2011, pp. 230-268.
- ‘International aid and development NGOs in Britain and human rights since 1945’, Humanity, Winter 2012, pp. 449-472.
- ‘Ken Loach and the Save the Children Film: humanitarianism, imperialism and the changing role of charity in postwar Britain’, Journal of Modern History, 87:2, 2015, pp. 357-394
- ‘The working practices of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies’, Social History, 40:3, 2015, pp. 287-311.
- ‘Charity, decolonisation and development: the case of the Starehe Boys School, Nairobi’, Past and Present, 2016.
- ‘Oxfam and the problem of NGO aid appraisal in the 1960s’, Humanity, forthcoming, 8, 2017.
- Philip Leverhulme Prize for Modern History, 2002