My PhD thesis was a study of the ‘race relations’ work of Christians in the sixties in England, with specific reference to a Methodist church in Notting Hill. As such, it was also a study of English racisms: how they were fought against and how they were denied and facilitated. Additionally, I paid attention to the interface of ‘religion’ and politics and the radical restatement of Christianity in the sixties. My supervisors were Prof. Richard Toye, Prof. Andrew Thompson, and Dr Gajendra Singh, and my examiners were Prof. Stephen Tuck (Pembroke College, Oxford) and Prof. Andrew Thorpe (Exeter). I passed my viva with no corrections in November 2016 and I was funded throughout by the AHRC. Please see here for a short article summing up the importance of my thesis, here for the abstract, and here for why I am an historian. I also intend on working my thesis into a manuscript for publication.
Prior to my doctoral work, I gained an MLitt with distinction in Iranian Studies from the University of St. Andrews. My dissertation was entitled, ‘Educational Reform in Iran: A Dialogue with Modernity’. My undergraduate degree was from the School of Oriental and African Studies where I gained a first class degree in the Study of Religions. At SOAS, I focussed on the histories of the religions of the near and middle east and central Asia, and my two final ISPs (aka dissertations) enquired into the construction of knowledge, with specific reference to the category ‘religion’ and also that of secularism. As you can see, my PhD was a bit of a departure from my earlier degrees. I wouldn’t recommend this as a strategy, but I always have done things in the most complicated and convoluted ways possible, so it’s fitting.
Alongside my research, I put on a successful conference entitled ‘what is radical history?‘ with two colleagues in March 2015. History Workshop Online ran a series of articles about the conference, the first of which can be found here. (Links to the other articles appear at the bottom of that one.) Podcasts of the conference can be found here. As a result of the conversations started at the ‘what is radical history?‘ conference, we also started the Applied History Network which currently puts on free discussion events every two months in central London. The first event in October 2015, ‘British history and anti-racist campaigning‘, was led by myself and saw some excellent talks by some important speakers. The podcast of the event is available here. I was also a participant in the Taking the Past into Future unconference at St Andrews in August 2015. The publication of the proceedings yet to be published, but in the meantime you can read my contribution on the Applied History Network here.
I’m particularly concerned with the utility of academic work as it pertains to the world outside of academia. Frankly, I bust my metaphorical balls to get this PhD and I don’t want my research to remain within the closed circle of academia. Therefore, I guess I’m more interested in ‘public history’ and how historians can make their work socially useful as part of an overall ethic of resistance to this disgustingly unequal neoliberal world we’re all trapped in.