Category Archives: IHR Seminars

Public History and the British Extreme Right Seminar


Join us on 8th February for our first seminar in the ‘Difficult Pasts and Objects’ series:

Dr Paul Jackson (University of Northampton)

‘Public History and the British Extreme Right’

This presentation will unpack some of the challenges found in both researching histories of the British extreme right, and communicating these findings to relevant audiences outside academia. It will start by reflecting on the benefits that can come from working with partners, such as watchdog and monitoring organisations, who have a vast knowledge base and datasets that many academics can use for their own research. As an example, will highlight the relationship between the University of Northampton and Searchlight magazine, which has resulted in a major new archive for researchers in this field. It will then explain what types of new research can be developed by historians from such resources, especially allowing for fresh commentaries on issues such as the groupuscular dynamics of the extreme right and its transnational activity – both themes that are becoming increasingly important for those analysing the recent history and current dynamics of the extreme right. Finally, it will discuss some of the challenges encountered with using these new histories to engage wider organisations, especially those linked to the Prevent Agenda such as the police and local authorities. With these issues in mind, it will close by exploring the role that historians of the extreme right can play by engaging with contemporary debates over tackling ‘radicalisation’ and promoting ‘British values’.

5.30pm, 8 February 2017
Olga Crisp Room Seminar Room N102, Senate House


IHR Seminar: Spring Term

We are delighted to announce our seminars for the spring term on the theme of ‘Difficult Pasts and Objects’


  • 8th February: Paul Jackson (University of Northampton): Public History and the British Extreme Far Right
  • 8th March – Jessica Moody (University of Portsmouth): “Racism on Display: The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia


Locations: TBC

IHR Seminar: Exploring the Relationship between Unpalatable Past and the Contested Present in Modern France


Mother and child walk past French soldiers, Oran, Algeria, 1962


Exploring the Relationship between the Unpalatable Past and the Contested Present in Modern France

Wednesday 9 November, 2016, 5.30 pm Olga Crisp Seminar Room N102, Senate House

Dr Nicola Cooper (University of Northampton): France’s Memory Wars

Prof William Gallois (University of Exeter): The Palatability of the Algerian Past

Chair: Dr Edward Madigan (Royal Holloway, University of London)

All welcome to attend

IHR Seminar Programme for Autumn 2016

We’re delighted to be able to announce our seminar topics and speakers for the autumn term. We hope you’re able to join us.

October 12 The Unpalatable Past (1)
Senate House – Pollard Seminar Room N301
The Rhodes Must Fall Campaign and the Cultural Politics of the British Imperial Past
Bill Schwarz (Queen Mary, UL)
Saul Dubow (Queen Mary, UL)

November 9 The Unpalatable Past (2)
Senate House – Olga Crisp Seminar Room N102
Nicola Cooper (University of Northampton): France’s Memory Wars
William Gallois (University of Exeter): The Palatability of the Algerian Past

November 16 Thomas Cauvin (University of Louisiana, Lafayette)
Senate House – John S. Cohen Room N203
Defining the field: Public History – A Textbook of Practice
Public history continues to elude consensus regarding its parameters and purposes and its complexities and ambiguities have only multiplied as the field has gone global in recent years. Thomas Cauvin’s Textbook of Practice addresses this challenge head-on, aiming to fill a gap in the literature on the pedagogy of public history and bringing theories and practices together. The IHR public history seminar is the ideal place to begin the UK field’s engagement with this important book.

December 7 The Unpalatable Past (3)
Senate House – Olga Crisp Seminar Room N102
Terrorism, Memory and Public History in Western Europe
Jonathan Skinner (University of Roehampton): Northern Ireland
Carrie Hamilton (University of Roehampton): The Basque Country

Seminar Event: The Rhodes Must Fall Campaign and the Cultural Politics of the British Imperial Past


Prof Saul Dubow (Queen Mary, UL) & Prof Bill Schwarz (Queen Mary, UL)
Chair: Prof John Tosh (Roehampton)
Wednesday 12 October, 5.30 pm
Pollard Seminar Room (N301) Senate House

Within just weeks of its initiation by students at the University of Cape Town in March 2015, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign led to the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the UCT campus and prompted widespread calls for the ‘decolonisation’ of third level education in South Africa. As the campaign gathered momentum it gave rise to a divisive public debate in Africa, Europe and elsewhere about the willingness of academic institutions to openly confront their imperial roots. The debate opened up a whole series of questions relating to the 21st century relationship with imperial conquest, expansion and exploitation in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also revealed some of the acute challenges historians face when attempting to inform public understandings of highly sensitive – and unpalatable – pasts. Please join us for a discussion of these issues led by Saul Dubow and Bill Schwarz of Queen Mary, University of London.

Connecting History, Policy and the Public

Connecting History, Policy and the Public: Symposium and Book Launch

An IHR Public History Seminar and London Centre for Public History event convened by Alix Green and Edward Madigan.

Friday 24th June, Senate House Room 349, University of London, Malet Street, London.

Symposium: 2-6pm

Launch of History, Policy and Public Purpose, by Alix Green: 6-8pm

Confirmed contributors: Andrew Blick, Justin Champion, Alix Green, Paul Lay, Edward Madigan, Steve Poole, Graham Smith, John Tosh, Anna Whitelock.

Spaces limited, to register please contact



Seminar Event: Homesick for Yesterday: A history of the “nostalgia wave” in the 1970s and 80s

Homesick for Yesterday: A history of the “nostalgia wave” in the 1970s and 80s

Tobias Becker (German Historical Institute, London)

Date: 4 November 2015

Time: Wednesday, 17:30

Venue:  Past & Present Room 202, 2nd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House

All throughout the 1970s and 80s intellectuals in the United States, Britain and West Germany complained about a “nostalgia wave”, an almost pathological yearning for a sentimentalised past that afflicted Western societies. Initially they found nostalgia mainly in pop culture’s return to its own past, particularly the revival of the 50s in rock music, film and on TV. Soon, however, the “nostalgia wave” manifested itself in the booming antiques trade, the success of the conservation movement and the popularity of historical books, museums and exhibitions, in short, what Robert Hewison dubbed the “heritage industry”.

Tobias’s paper looks at the discourse, the manifestations and the contemporary explanations of the “nostalgia wave”. It argues that the nostalgia discourse was partly a reaction to the popularisation and democratisation of history: a means to reinstate the interpretative authority of academic history by discrediting the grass-roots engagement with history and the appropriation of scholarly practices by amateurs. However the popular interest in the past was also indicative of changing concepts of time. Drawing on the works of Hartmut Rosa and François Hartog, the paper understands the “nostalgia wave” as an expression of a new, presentist “regime of historicity” that emerged as a result of accelerated social change.

Tobias Becker is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute London, where he works on the “nostalgia wave” in the 1970s and 80s. Publications include Inszenierte Moderne. Populäres Theater in Berlin und London, 1880-1930 (2014); Popular Musical Theatre in London and Berlin, 1890-1939 (ed. with Len Platt and David Linton, 2014).