Applied History Network

We have created a new website which will give all of the details of the upcoming regular events we have planned as a follow on from our ‘what is radical history?’ conference. Please update your links to: Applied History Network.

Our first event – British history and anti-racist campaigning – will be held at the Marx Memorial Library on Tuesday, 20 October 2015. It is free and from 6.30pm-8pm.

Please see our new website and the Eventbrite page for more details!


Podcasts of the conference

After some delay, we are pleased to be give all of those who were unable to come to the conference a chance to listen to the papers presented by way of the podcasts below.

We have also written an article for History Workshop Online which gives an overview of the day as well as some self-reflections. In the coming weeks, two more papers by Ruth Mather and George Stevenson will also be published on HWO as part of the series.

Finally, we are planning on organising some smaller but more regular evening radical/critical history events. If you would be interested in hearing more about that, please click here to be added to our mailing list.

Radical Historiographies:

Urban and Rural Workers:

Political Commitments:

State and Authority:

Social Movements and Protest:

Radical Education:



We are pleased to finally be able to confirm the timetable for the day. The conference is open to anyone interested in radical history, whatever your background. We’ve left lots of time for Q&A sessions, so we hope to get a good dialogue happening.

9.00 – 9.30: Registration (Room 153)

9.30 – 11.00: Session 1
Radical historiographies (Room 153)
David Convery (NUI Galway), ‘What is radical history? Some thoughts based on a comparison of British and Irish historiographical trends’

Amy Tobin (York) and Hannah Proctor (Birkbeck), ‘Looking Back: the Histories of Radical History’

Rob Waters (Queen Mary and Birkbeck), ‘Thinking black: Peter Fryer’s Staying Power (1984)’

Urban and rural workers (Room G16)
Pablo L. Álvarez (King’s College London), ‘Where is my grandmother in the History of Art?’

Duncan Money (Oxford), ‘Who is a radical in history? Problems of definition on the Zambian Copperbelt’

Paul Griffin (Glasgow), ‘Assembling a Working Class Presence: Clydeside’s Usable Pasts’

11.00 – 11.30: Break (tea and coffee provided)

11.30 – 13.00: Session 2
Political commitment (Room 153)
George Stevenson (Durham), ‘The politics of defeat and the crisis of purpose in history’

Dominic Davies (Oxford), ‘Criticism as Resistance: A Methodology for the Activist-Academic’

Ben Bethell, Barbara Warnock and Guy Beckett (Birkbeck), ‘History Acts’

The state and authority (Room G16)
Michael Weatherburn (Imperial), ‘Writing the managerial revolution back in: the rise of big management in Britain, 1916-2015’

Ben Taylor (King’s College London), ‘TechnoCops and Radical Scientists: Towards a Radical History of a British Surveillance State?’

Jacob Ramsay Smith (Queen Mary), ‘In search of “complete victory”: Victorian Imperial case studies for the modern “War on Terror”’

13.00 – 14.00: Lunch (provided)

14.00 – 15.30: Session 3
Social movements and protest (Room 153)
Miranda Iossifidis (Goldsmiths), ‘The pamphlets of the “We Want to Riot, Not To Work Collective”: the relationship between radical history and political myth’

Garikoitz Gómez Alfaro (Brighton), ‘What time is radical history? A rough guide to critical time’

Rowan Tallis Milligan (Oxford), ‘The politics of the Crowbar: Squatting in London, 1968-1977’

Radical education (Room G16)
Alison Ronan (Independent Researcher), ‘The Riverside Village 1916-1917 and Fairby Grange 1921-1922: two radical and forgotten examples of self-governing colonies for the young “delinquent”.’

Victoria Russell (Birkbeck), ‘Radical Education and the Platonic Androgyne: The Challenge to Socio-Political Hegemony in England between 1790 and 1840.’

Ruth Mather (Queen Mary), ‘Moving Beyond Boundaries: Feminists Teaching History’

15.30 – 16.00: Break (tea and coffee provided)

16.00 – 18.00: Roundtable discussion (Room 153)
Becky Taylor (Lecturer in History, Birkbeck, University of London)
Robbie Shilliam (Reader in International Relations, Queen Mary, University of London)
Mike Jackson (Secretary, Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners)

Register to attend at:

Please use #radhist2015 when discussing the conference on social media.

Download a PDF of the programme here.

The conference is supported by the Raphael Samuel History Centre and the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck.

Update on proceedings

After an unexpectedly large quantity of high quality and incredibly interesting papers, we have been lucky enough to secure funding to double the size of the conference. Even with the extra capacity, it was still very hard to pick (and agree on!) those we would invite to present.

We will shortly be publishing the timetable of the conference with the confirmed speakers and additional roundtable guest, but in the meantime, please read the contributions posted by some of the speakers: Ali Ronan, Ben Taylor, Duncan Money, Garikoitz Gómez Alfaro, George Stevenson, Jacob Ramsay Smith, Pablo L. Álvarez, Paul Griffin, Rowan Tallis Milligan, and Ruth Mathers.

Remember that we are really interested in starting a dialogue on the conference question – ‘what is radical history?’ – so, please send us over your thoughts even if you’re not a speaker. Instructions are here.

Call for Papers

‘Historical writing always has some effect on us. It may reinforce passivity; it may activate us. In any case, the historian cannot choose to be neutral; [s]he writes on a moving train.’ Howard Zinn

We invite post-graduates to submit abstracts for a one-day conference –  ‘what is radical history?’ – exploring the relationship between rigorous historical research and active political engagement. In 1970 Howard Zinn asked a question still important for politically-engaged academics today: ‘what is radical history?’ This conference will provide a space to re-engage with this debate, both to ask what we can learn from radical historical practice of the past but also to question what has changed in the intervening decades, and what a radical history might look like now. The conference is on Tuesday, March 24th 2015 at Birkbeck, University of London.

We invite contributions from post-graduates from any disciplinary background who have a strong historical component to their research. We have identified three themes on which we especially invite reflections:

  1. What identifies ‘radical history’ as ‘radical’? Does its radicalism lie in its subject of study or in the approach of the researcher?
  2. How does ‘radical history’ negotiate the relationship between ‘objectivity’ and politics?
  3. What use is ‘radical history’? Does it have a role to play in emancipatory politics?

We welcome theoretical responses to the question ‘what is radical history?’ as well as contributions rooted in empirical research. We invite submissions of 10-20 minutes in length: these could be collaborative or individual in nature, and encompass interviews, short films, and papers, as well as other appropriate methods. We aim to generate a multidisciplinary analysis of the nature of ‘radical history’ today and of the challenges that politically active researchers across various departments currently face within academia and wider society.

The conference will end with a round-table between activist-academics including Dr. Becky Taylor (Birkbeck, History, Classics and Archaeology) and Dr. Robbie Shilliam (QMUL, International Relations), and an audience-participatory discussion. The event will be free to attend.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit abstracts of 250-300 words. Separately, please also include your name, affiliation and contact details, as well as full-details of the presentation method and any audio-visual or mobility requirements. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 22nd December 2014. For more information about the conference, or to submit an abstract, please email the organising committee: Luca Lapolla (Birkbeck), Diarmaid Kelliher (Glasgow) and Tank Green (Exeter) at: radicalhistoryconference [at]

‘What is Radical History?’

‘What is Radical History?’ is a a one-day post-graduate led interdisciplinary conference to be held in March 2015 at Birkbeck, University of London.

The conference is organised by Luca Lapolla (Birkbeck), Diarmaid Kelliher (Glasgow) and Tank Green (Exeter). Please send any email enquiries to: radicalhistoryconference [at]

Please check back shortly for our Call for Papers.

This event is organised as part of the Raphael Samuel History Centre‘s New Historians’ Network.

We are very grateful to the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London for funding this conference.