Prof. Andrew Hartman, ‘Karl marx and the Cycles of American Capitalism.’



Research Seminar: Dr. Tom Brodie, ‘German Catholicism at War, 1939-1945.’

brodie M&C poster draft copy1brodie M&C poster draft copy2

IHR/M&C Round-table: Empire, Race, Humanitarianism. Friday 19 October 2018. 11-13h.

On Friday 19 October 2018. 11-13h, we are delighted to host our Autumn 2018 Round-table in partnership with the Rethinking Modern Europe Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in London. All are welcome!

Empire, Race, Humanitarianism Roundtable Poster copy

2 Empire, Race, Humanitarianism Roundtable Poster copy

Welcome to 2018-19: New Event Calendar

Welcome to 2018/19 at the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History! This academic year we have a rich line up of events and seminars in prospect, many organised jointly with other research centres here at Birmingham. Keep an eye on our seminar calendar page and on our Twitter feed to stay updated! All are welcome and we are especially glad to see our MA, BA and PGR students at seminars!

Upcoming Symposium: ‘Small Nations and Global Identities: Czech Questions’


Image: “Inauguration of a statue to the first Czechoslovak President, T. G. Masaryk on 28 October 1926 in Hradec Králové,” Pestrý týden, 2 Nov 1926.


On Thursday 5 July 2018, the Centre is co-sponsoring a one-day symposium, which considers the formation of modern Czech identity in the arts, politics and the media, focusing on key global events of the 20th century. It responds to various celebrations in the Czech Republic and the UK, including the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and fiftieth anniversary of the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

In addressing the relationship between the small nation and its global identity, the programme explores three themes: the mythic portrayal of interwar Czechoslovakia as a Western oriented state and of the Czech people as passive victims of global events; the cyclical gain and loss of state sovereignty, covering the separation of the Czech and Slovak Republics in 1993; the construction of Czechs identity in relation to ‘others’, including German, Slovak and Roma diasporas.

Organised by Dr. Marta Filipová and Prof. Matthew Rampley, University of Birmingham, the symposium includes an exhibition tour with Czech artist Vladimír Kokolia, curator Miroslav Ambroz and Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins.  Leading historians and theorists participating at the symposium include

  • Dr Jakub Beneš, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Rajendra Chitnis, University of Bristol
  • Prof Mark Cornwall, University of Southampton
  • Dr Tom Dickins, University of Wolverhampton
  • Dr Celia Donert, University of Liverpool
  • Prof Mary Heimann, Cardiff University
  • Dr Kelly Hignett, Leeds Beckett University
  • Dr Monika Metyková, University of Sussex
  • Dr James Partridge, University of Oxford
  • Prof Jiří Přibáň, Cardiff University
  • Dr Peter Zusi, University College London

Small Nations and Global Identities: Czech Questionsis supported by Ikon, the Birmingham Centre for Modern and Contemporary History, the Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures and Public Engagement Office, University of Birmingham, Czech Club Birmingham CIC and the Embassy of the Czech Republic in London.

Further details:

Thursday 5 July 2018
10-6pm – FREE
Ikon Gallery, Brindleyplace, Birmingham, B1 2HS

Register here:

Admin 9.30 – 10.10 Registration
Tour 10 – 10.45 Exhibition tour with artist Vladimir Kokolia, curator Miroslav Ambroz and Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins
Welcome 10.45 – 11.00 HE Libor Sečka, Embassy of the Czech Republic in London, Linzi Stauvers, Ikon Gallery  and Marta Filipová, University of Birmingham

Czech sovereignty

11.00 – 12.30
Chair: Matthew Rampley
Jiří Přibáň, The history of Czech statehood and national identity
Mary Heimann, The State that Failed
Jakub Beneš, Populist nationalism between 1918 and 1948
Lunch 12.30 – 13.30 Own arrangements

Czech myths
13.30 –  15.30

Chair: Klaus Richter

Rajendra Chitnis, The Czech Myth of Resistance: Silence as a Response to the German Occupation
Peter Zusi, On the Fringes of History: Richard Weiner Observes the Foundation of the Republic
Kelly Hignett, Constructing Czech Identity ‘From the Margins’
Tom Dickins, The influence of the past, as reflected in the slogans and counter slogans of the socialist era
Tea break 15.30 – 16.00 All welcome

Czech others

16.00 –  17.30

Chair: TBC

Mark Cornwall,  Mapping a Queer Geography of Interwar Czechoslovakia in Europe
Celia Donert, The Rights of the Roma: The Struggle for Citizenship in Postwar Czechoslovakia
Monika Metyková,  Brno 1918-2018: The City of Czechs, Germans and Jews

Annual Lecture 2018 – Priya Satia (Stanford) ‘Pacifists Making Guns: The Galtons of Birmingham and Britain’s Industrial Revolution’

On Wednesday 13 June, we are delighted to welcome Professor Priya Satia from Stanford University for the Centre’s 2018 Annual Lecture.


Pacifists Making Guns: The Galtons of Birmingham and Britain’s Industrial Revolution


Image courtesy Priya Satia

Muirhead Tower G15

Wednesday 13 June 2018, 17.00-19.00

All welcome! Please join us for a reception afterwards.

Contact: Simon Jackson


The biggest gun-making firm in 18th-century Britain was owned by a Quaker family, the Galtons of Birmingham. They were major suppliers of guns to the slave trade in West Africa, the East India Company, settlers and trading companies in North America, and the British government, which was at war almost constantly from 1688 to 1815. But a core principle of the Quaker faith is belief in the un-Christian nature of war; Quakers do not participate in war or war training. From the seventeenth century, they were a persecuted minority because they refused to swear loyalty to the king or to arm themselves in the defence of his realm. So how do we explain the Galtons?–and other Quakers’ quiet tolerance of their business for nearly a century? For nearly a century, their livelihood attracted no critical notice in the Quaker community. Then, suddenly, in 1795, the Religious Society of Friends threatened to disown Samuel Galton Junior unless he left the arms trade. What changed? Why did the Galtons’ gun-manufacturing suddenly become a scandal? Had guns changed? Had Quakerism changed? And what was the result? Was Galton disowned? These are the questions Prof. Satia’s talk will pose and answer. And the answers reveal how difficult it was in eighteenth-century British industrial society to extricate oneself entirely from participating in warfare, regardless of principles. War was integral to the Industrial Revolution.


Speaker Biography:

Priya Satia is a professor of British History at Stanford University. She is author of Spies of Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain’s Covert Empire in the Middle East published by Oxford University Press and her writing appeared in the TLS, Slate, the Financial Times, Washington Post, and Time Magazine, among others. She received an MSc in Development Studies (Economics) at the London School of Economics and a PhD in History at the University of California, Berkeley.

Research Seminar: Dr. Michell Chresfield, ‘The Prehistory of Multiracial America, 1870-1970’

We’re delighted to welcome our own Dr. Michell Chresfield to speak about her research.


Half and Halves and Racially Ambiguous Others: The Prehistory of Multiracial America, 1870-1970

Dr. Michell Chresfield (Birmingham)


Image courtesy Michell Chresfield

Wednesday 21 March 2018, 17.30-19.00

Muirhead Tower, Room 113

University of Birmingham

All welcome!

Contact: Simon Jackson:


MA Research Days 2018

Over the next couple of days our MA students in Contemporary History, Global History and Modern British Studies are work-shopping their nascent dissertation projects. Please see the programme below for a flavour of what they are studying.

Tuesday 20 March

Room G 26: Mechanical Engineering Building

2.15: Assemble & Introductions (Simon Jackson)

 2.30-3.15: Gender, Masculinity & Clothing

Joe Combs – Masculinity, Femininity and Homosexuality in Small Northern Industrial Towns, 1960-2000’

Katelyn Elder, ‘Boys to men: the role of public schools and the Boy Scouts in shaping masculinity in the late Victorian and early Edwardian period.’

Eleanor Holmes, ‘Dressing for the War: Utility Clothing and Rationing in World War Two Britain’


3.30-4.00: Labour, Nation & Community

Haowen (Sylvie) Liu, ‘The role of Chinese Labor in the Second World War and the subsequent labor movement’

Curt Trudgeon, ‘Immigrant and Ethnic Minority Communities in North- Western Port Cities During Interwar Britain: Racism, Urban Topography and Cultural Impacts’

Sarah Middlemass, How did print media generate and propagate ideas of ‘Britishness’: 1993-2001″.

4.30-5.15: Culture, conformity and contestation

Rachel Littler, ‘The Rational Dress Movement and Women’s Mobility’

Uzmah Mohammed,Material culture, cultural appropriation and colourblindness’ (Only 3-6 Tuesday)

Seb Read, ‘Exploring the social roles and impacts of musical subcultures in 1980s England’.  

Wednesday 21 March

Biosciences, 301

10.00 – Assemble and Welcome (Chris Moores)

10.05-11.50 – Bodies and History

Grace France, “The Rigid Right and the Strait-Laced Left? An Exploration of the Response to Page Three from 1970 to 1990”

Beth Parkes, ‘Suntanning in 1960s and 1970s Britain’

Rose Parkinson: Colonial medical care, gender, and urbanism in Bombay, c. 1913-1930

11.10 -11.55:   Empires

Ioannis Tzianis, ‘To what extent did the Vietnam war affect the UK-US relations?’ (Wednesday)

Vicky Basra, An Investigation of the Expansionary efforts of Maharajah Ranjit Singh: Accepted hero?

Charlotte McKnight, ‘Our national beverage’: The British School of Malting and Brewing’.


1.00-2.30:  Activist Selly Oak (Muirhead Tower, 109):  This is an optional session with the opportunity to find out about the Activist Selly Oak Event a Heritage Lottery Funded Project being run by Chris Moores with BRIHC – the session will take place in Muirhead Tower, 109 (it is not likely to last until 2.30 for those presenting in the final session)

2.30-3.00: Media

Emma McMullen, ‘Women’s autonomy and social class in British mass media, 1950-1970’.

Imogen Anderson, ‘The role of news broadcasts and black British cultural production in portraying Handsworth, Birmingham’



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