The Centre for Modern and Contemporary History
World-class research that engages the public
Established in 2022, the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History (CMCH) supports the research of LJMU's historians, strengthens our partnerships with museums and historical societies and creates opportunities for new collaborations with researchers and historical institutions locally, nationally and internationally. Specialising in modern and contemporary history (1750s-present), the CMCH is comprised of the following Research Clusters.
The Americas research cluster is concerned with the history and contemporary nature of the Americas (North, Central, and South) in domestic, regional, and international contexts. The cluster brings together scholars studying a wide variety of topics, including - but not limited to - economic history, social movements, slavery and its legacies, foreign relations, immigration, and identity.
Cluster leader - Dr Malcom Craig: M.M.Craig@ljmu.ac.uk
The Postcolonial World: Ends and Legacies of Empire
The end of European global empires in the decades following World War II seemed to herald a fundamental and unprecedented historical shift from a world of empires to a world of nation-states. The process of decolonisation in Asia and Africa, its contingencies and contested outcomes, has come under sustained historical scrutiny in recent years, and the study of newly independent states in the post-colonial world is a key area of interest within the wider context of global history. Yet the questions of whether imperialism really ended with the decolonisation of European empires - particularly given the character of American and Soviet power in the post-war era, and the continued efforts by Britain and France to maintain their imperial spheres of influence - and the nature and extent of the legacy of European imperialism in today’s world, remain key academic and public concerns. This cluster brings together historians of diverse regions and scholars from associated disciplines who work on the ends and legacies of empires in the recent past and contemporary world, with the aim of facilitating sustained conversations and potential collaborations among members of the CMCH. It currently houses Dr Chris Vaughan's AHRC-funded Regionalism in East Africa project.
Cluster leader: Dr Dan Feather - D.J.Feather@ljmu.ac.uk
Gender, Race and Sexuality
This cluster brings together the complex research and ideologies that constitute the histories of gender, race and sexuality. By taking an intersectional approach to these histories, the Gender, Race and Sexuality cluster will provide a space for discussion, sharing of ideas, and constructive feedback for researchers working across disciplines.
Cluster leader: Dr Andrea Livesey - A.Livesey@ljmu.ac.uk
Risk, Emergencies and Security
Crises, emergencies, and the notion of a global “risk society” have become a mainstay of the public discourse. In the first two decades of the 21st century alone, societies faced the challenges of international terrorism, global financial crises, the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and various armed conflicts. We believe these pressing contemporary issues are rooted in long-term historical developments and thus warrant historically-informed analysis and discussion. Understanding these phenomena requires multi- and cross-disciplinary approaches, and we are therefore keen to include colleagues with a background in sociology, political science, media studies, linguistics and literature, and law (but not limited to them) in the work of the cluster alongside colleagues from history. This cluster aims to provide a forum for researchers in to engage with these issues and to facilitate multi, inter- and cross-disciplinary discussion and collaboration.
Cluster leader: Dr Andre Keil - A.Keil@ljmu.ac.uk
The CMCH hosts a range of activities throughout the year, including seminars, workshops, book launches and other public speaking events. For updates on these events, please follow us on Twitter - @LJMUHistory.
For any enquiries related to the CMCH, please contact one of its Directors:
Dr Chris Vaughan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr James Crossland - email@example.com
Our latest publications
The following are some of our latest publications, which featured in LJMU History's 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission.
Susan Grant, Soviet Nightingales: Care Under Communism (Cornell University Press, 2022)
|Disease and illness were rampant in the early 1920s after years of war, revolution, and famine. The demand for nurses was great, but how might these workers best serve the country's needs? By examining living and working conditions, nurse-patient relations, education, and attempts at international nursing cooperation, Grant recounts the history of the Bolshevik effort to define the "Soviet" nurse and organize a new system of socialist care for the masses. Although the Bolsheviks aimed to transform healthcare along socialist lines, they ultimately failed as the struggle to train skilled medical workers became entangled in politics. Soviet Nightingales draws on rich archival research from Russia, the United States, and Britain to describe how ideology reinvented the role of the nurse and shaped the profession.
Gillian O'Brien, The Darkness Echoing (Penguin: 2020)
Ireland is a nation obsessed with death. We find a thrill in the moribund, a strange enchantment in the drama of our dark past. It's everywhere we look and in all of our beloved myths, songs and stories that have helped to form our cultural identity. Our wakes and ballads, our plays and famine sites, all of them and more come together to tell ourselves and the world who we are and what we have suffered to get here.
Gillian O'Brien had a beloved grandmother who tried on outfits in preparation for her wake. Always fascinated by the Irish preoccupation with death and the rituals around it, Gillian sets out to explore this intriguing habit of ours, to be compelled to celebrate the macabre and relish the darkness of own mortality. In The Darkness Echoing she tours Ireland to find our most haunted and fascinating historical sites, to discover the stories behind them and reveal what they say about Ireland as a nation.
James Crossland, War, Law and Humanity: the Campaign to Control Warfare, 1850-1914 (Bloomsbury: 2018)
|War, Law and Humanity tells the story of the transatlantic campaign to either mitigate the destructive forces of the battlefield, or prevent wars from being waged altogether, in the decades prior to the disastrous summer of 1914. Starting with the Crimean War of the 1850s, James Crossland traces this campaign to control warfare from the scandalous barracks of Scutari to the shambolic hospitals of the American Civil War, from the bloody sieges of Paris and Erzurum to the combative conference halls of Geneva and The Hague, uncovering the intertwined histories of a generation of humanitarians, surgeons, pacifists and utopians who were shocked into action by the barbarism and depravities of war. By examining the fascinating personal accounts of these figures, Crossland illuminates the complex motivations and influential actions of those committed to the campaign to control war, demonstrating how their labours built the foundation for the ideas – enshrined in our own times as international norms – that soldiers need caring for, weapons need restricting and wars need rules.|
Malcom Craig, America, Britain and Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Programme, 1974-1980 (Palgrave: 2017)
|This book analyses US and UK efforts to shut down Pakistan’s nuclear programme in the 1970s, between the catalytic Indian nuclear test of May 1974 and the decline of sustained non-proliferation activity from mid-1979 onwards. It is a tale of cooperation between Washington and London, but also a story of divisions and disputes. The brutal economic realities of the decade, globalisation, and wider geopolitical challenges all complicated this relationship. Policy and action were also affected by changes elsewhere in the world. Iran’s 1979 revolution brought a new form of political Islamic radicalism to prominence. The fears engendered by the Ayatollah and his followers, coupled to the blustering rhetoric of Pakistani leaders, gave rise to the ‘Islamic bomb’, a nuclear weapon supposedly created by Pakistan to be shared amongst the Muslim ummah. This study thus combines cultural, diplomatic, economic, and political history to offer a rigorous, deeply researched account of a critical moment in nuclear history.|
James Crossland, Melanie Oppenheimer and Neville Wylie (eds.), The Red Cross Movement: Myths, Practices and Turning Points (Manchester University Press, 2020)
|For over 150 years, the Red Cross has brought succour to the world’s needy, from sick and wounded soldiers on the battlefield, to political detainees, to those suffering the effects of natural disasters. The world’s oldest and most preeminent humanitarian movement, the relevance and status of the Red Cross Movement today is as high as it has ever been.
Reimagining and re-evaluating the Red Cross as a global institutional network, this volume charts the rise of the Red Cross and analyses the emergence of humanitarianism through a series of turning points, practices and myths. The contributors explore the three unique elements that make up the Red Cross Movement: the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent formerly known as the League of Red Cross Societies (both based in Geneva) and the 192 national societies. With chapters by leading scholars and researchers from Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and America, the book offers a timely account of this unique, complex and contested organisation.
Tom Beaumont, Fellows Travellers: Communist Trade Unionism and Industrial Relations on the French Railways, 1914-1939 (University of Liverpool Press, 2019)
|Fellow Travellers examines the shifting practices and strategies adopted by Communist militants as they sought to build and maintain support on the railways. In a period in which the Communist party struggled to establish a foothold in many French workplaces, activists on the railways bucked the trend and set down deep and lasting roots of support. They maintained this support even through the sectarian period of the Comintern’s shift to class against class, deepening their participation within railway industrial relations and gaining the experience of engagement with managers and state officials upon which they would build during the years of the Popular Front. Here France’s railway employees joined alongside their fellow workers in shaping a new social contract for workers, extending the principle of democratic representation into the workplace. While the Popular Front experiment proved shortlived, its influence was long lasting. In the post Liberation period, the key tenets of the Popular Front experience re-emerged within the nationalised SNCF, shaping the particular character of railway industrial relations – the peculiar mix of collaboration and hostile confrontation between management and workforce that continues to make the French railways one of the most contested sectors of the modern French economy.
Nick White, In Trust: A History of PNB (MPH: 2018)
|"This is the first full-length study of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB; Malaysia's National Equity Corporation), marking the institution's 40th anniversary. A government-linked corporation, PNB is a unique 'hybrid' being both investment company and fund manager. The Corporation was formed with a specific mandate to raise income and savings levels through spreading corporate ownership more evenly throughout the Malaysian economy, particularly amongst the lower income indigenous Bumiputera communities. PNB runs what is reckoned to be the world's largest unit trust scheme, and manages investments which make up at least 10 per cent of Kuala Lumpur's Stock Exchange. This book charts PNB's fascinating history through its origins in the New Economic Policy; the growth and management of its vast investment portfolio; the evolution of its highly successful unit trust schemes encompassing millions of small-scale investors; the international reach of the Corporation's operations; and, PNB's contribution to the development of Malaysian Human Resources (as well as the role played by its own employees in forging this dynamic organisation).
Our Research Impact case studies
Our historians produce research that is having impact beyond the world of academia, influencing pubic conversations and cultural activities within the UK and beyond. Below are some of the Impact Case Studies, produced by LJMU History researchers, for the recently concluded 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF).
Emma Vickers - 'Dry Your Eyes Princess'
'Dry Your Eyes Princess' is an oral history/photography project that documents the experiences of trans veterans who served in the British Armed Forces after 1945. The research will feature in a peer reviewed article titled ‘Dry Your Eyes Princess’, oral testimonies, photography and co-creation in the journal Oral History, as part of a special LGBTQ-focused edition. The project has been featured in, amongst other places, in the Guardian, BBC, TES and in the Irish press. The 2015 exhibition in the Museum of Liverpool was viewed nearly 60,000 times, and the research has been shared widely at both academic conferences and public events in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Finland.
Gillian O'Brien - 'Presentingthe Past: Creating Content for Historic Sites & Museums'
Over the past four years Dr Gillian O’Brien has been the historical consultant for three award-winning museums and heritage centres in Ireland – Fortress Spike Island Co. Cork, Nano Nagle Place, Cork and Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse, Dublin. Her research expertise was used to inform the interpretation and display at these sites (which are visited by c.500,000 people annually). The underpinning research for these sites has been wildly acclaimed and there have been linked public presentations, op-ed articles and radio and newspaper interviews. In addition to museum development O’Brien has organised a series of workshops for museum and heritage professionals which have resulted in several open access reports, most notably ‘Inception, Development, Operation: A report on best practice for site-specific museums and heritage centres’.