Research Structure and Environment
The members of the History Unit of Assessment work primarily within the School of History and International Affairs (previously the School of History, Philosophy and Politics). They enjoy close relations with colleagues in Politics and International Studies, and with two interdisciplinary research centres: the Centre for the Study of Conflict, which is located in the School, and the newly-established Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages. Although there is total commitment to members of the Unit following their individual research interests, we have, as in 1996, identified some particular areas of strength as research clusters. Our intention is to encourage colleagues (whose interests may place them in more than one cluster) to explore how collaborative work (in such things as joint or similar research projects, external funding applications and research student recruitment and support) can enhance our overall research achievements.
Supported by the university’s selective targeted strategy of building on its research strengths we have gained two ‘new blood’ posts (Dr O’Connell and Dr Murray), one post-doctoral research fellowship (Dr Ryan), and funding from philanthropic sources for distinguished Visiting Scholars who reside at the University, discuss their own innovative research and develop collaborations with Ulster historians. While we have been actively encouraging an increase in the number of research students, we have maintained a very rigorous selection procedure and our success in this area is confirmed by recent submission rates. Over the census period History has produced fourteen PhDs and one MPhil. Since 1994 we have produced qualitatively stronger publications, organised more conferences and helped secure very substantial external funding of £3 million for the establishment of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages.
Research Cluster: Irish History
As a major Irish university, the University of Ulster continues to support Irish history as a central area of research. The particular local context, with its longstanding history of communal discord, reinforces the responsibility of Ulster historians to explore the roots of that conflict and engage with current debate over key issues in Northern Ireland. Here our strengths in contemporary and Irish history overlap. No individual exemplifies this more than Professor Patterson whose inclusion in the History UA (rather than Politics as in 1996) reflects a continuing strong interest in the historical dimension of both Irish politics and the Northern Ireland conflict. During the census period he has produced a revised and extended version of his history of Irish republicanism, as well as a co-authored book on the political future of Northern Ireland. Since March 1998 he has been working on a book for Oxford University Press, The Two Irish States since 1939. Contemporary public interest and value is also demonstrated in the work of Professor Jeffery. His Ireland and the Great War, based on his Lees Knowles Lectures, explores the experience of both nationalist and unionist Ireland during the First World War more holistically than has previously been attempted. It was launched in November 2000 by the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern, who described it as ‘a fine book, which greatly illuminates our understanding’.
Other projects in which University of Ulster historians are involved illustrate the conjunction of contemporary and Irish history. As part of an Ireland-wide series of research-based county histories, Dr O’Brien’s 740-page edited volume Derry and Londonderry was published in 1998. Among the 29 contributors are O’Brien (whose study, included as one of his nominated publications, of an exceptionally difficult question has been widely admired), Professor Fraser and Robert Hunter (recently retired, now Category C), as well as two former history postgraduate research students. Hunter also contributed essays to other county histories: W Nolan (ed), Donegal (1995), H Jeffries (ed), Tyrone (2000) and A Hughes (ed), Armagh (forthcoming). In collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Conflict, Fraser has been working on a long-term study of the historical development and current significance of political-religious parading in Ireland. Drawing on significant external funding from the Northern Ireland government Central Community Relations Unit, two research officers have contributed to this study. It was used by Sir Peter North’s committee on Parading in Northern Ireland, which reported in January 1997. Three major research reports were published which contributed to public policy debate on an issue central to the stability of the province. A volume, The Irish Parading Tradition: Following the Drum was published in 2000 and includes essays by the research officers and three Ulster historians (Fraser, Jeffery, Dr Loughlin). Loughlin’s work in this volume draws on his current investigations of the wellsprings of ‘Ulster’ identity, while Jeffery’s examination of the police and parades builds on his paper ‘A propos du Royal Ulster Constabulary consideré comme une force d’occupation’, given to a colloquium at the Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Securité in Paris and published in J-M Berlière and D Peschanski (eds), Pouvoirs et Polices au XXe Siècle (1997). In 2000 Routledge published Fraser's Lancaster Pamphlet, Ireland in Conflict, 1922-1998, which incorporates original research into the Northern Ireland peace process. Among Patterson's work on contemporary Irish politics was a joint research project (with Dr Paul Dixon, Politics) on 'Ulster Unionism and the Northern Ireland Assembly' supported by an ESRC grant of £15,997 awarded in 1999.
Ulster historians are also highly active in other areas of Irish history. In particular they take a major part (with colleagues from Queen’s University and other professional historians based in local museums and archives) in the running and proceedings of the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies research seminar series, which provides a venue for both established and younger scholars to present their work. Frank Geary has a research project, funded by the Royal Irish Academy, with Professor K O’Rourke (Trinity College Dublin) on ‘Irish Historical Statistics 1750-1921’, and he is a member of the Historical National Accounts Group for Ireland. He drew on this work for a paper, ‘Comparative output and growth in the four countries of the United Kingdom, 1861-1911’ written with Dr T Stark (an Ulster economist), and published in S Connolly (ed), Kingdoms United? Great Britain and Ireland since 1500 (1998). This volume also included Loughlin's 'Imagining "Ulster": the North of Ireland and British national identity, 1880-1921'.
Our expertise in Irish history supports the majority of our research students and underpins the MA in Irish History and Politics, taught on the Magee College Campus. It is also reflected in the concentration of Irish-related editorial activity noted in RA6a and RA6c. The very considerable University resources of Irish research materials are currently being strengthened by RASCAL (Research And Special Collections Available Locally), a new research initiative launched by Queen’s University in association with Ulster with support from the Research Support Libraries Programme. The aim is to produce a fully searchable web-based directory of collections available in Northern Ireland of significant benefit to researchers in the humanities and the social sciences.
Research Cluster: Contemporary History
This area of specialism, reported in 1996, continues to be of importance and, as with that of Irish History, exemplifies our commitment to communicating the latest historical research as widely as possible. A clear practical manifestation of this is the Macmillan (now Palgrave) ‘Studies in Contemporary History’ series jointly edited by Fraser and Dr Springhall, and written primarily by Ulster historians. These books are specifically designed to incorporate original research based on the authors’ specialisms and enhance the University’s reputation as a major centre for contemporary history. Each volume is anonymously refereed by Palgrave and is subject to strict editorial control. Two volumes were published in 1995 (Fraser, The Arab-Israeli Conflict and D B Smith (Asian Studies), Japan since 1945; one in 1997 (W T M Riches (now retired), The Civil Rights Movement); two in 1998 (Loughlin, The Ulster Question since 1945, and Professor Pearson, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire); and one in 1999 (S Ryan (Politics UoA), The United Nations and International Politics). Springhall’s Decolonization since 1945 is to be published in January 2001. Two further volumes are contracted while other titles are under negotiation. Palgrave, in a decision that reflects the success of the series, has decided to expand its scope under direction of the existing editors. An expanded version of Fraser's The Arab-Israeli Conflict will be published in an Italian translation by Il Mulino, Bologna.
Among the contemporary history issues addressed by Ulster historians has been the subject of ethnic conflict. Naturally this has drawn on our research expertise in Irish affairs, but a wider range of interests has been reinforced by our links with the Centre for the Study of Conflict and INCORE (the Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity, a joint training and research campus of the United Nations University and the University of Ulster, based at the Magee Campus), which promotes research on contemporary ethnic conflict at an international level. Pearson’s European Nationalism 1789-1920 (1994) has become recognised as a valuable reference book in this area. Fraser and Professor Dunn (then Director of the Centre for the Study of Conflict) collaborated on Europe and Ethnicity (1996), a study of the impact of the First World War on contemporary ethnic conflict, to which Pearson and Professor Sharp contributed. From 1993 to 1999 Keith Kyle, a former senior BBC foreign affairs and Northern Ireland correspondent, and latterly Director of the Chatham House Middle East programme, was appointed Visiting Professor of History. He contributed four weeks each academic year to teaching and research and enhanced our record in contemporary history through such publications as The UN in the Congo (INCORE Occasional Paper 2, 1995), A Framework for the North? (Centre for the Study of Conflict, 1995) and a major monograph, The Politics of the Independence of Kenya (Macmillan, 1999).
The appointments of Murray and Dr Kirby in 1999 have opened up a new area of specialism in post-war American foreign policy. Each has a monograph in the present submission, while Fraser has an earlier study of American policy in the Middle East (Macmillan, 1989). Fraser and Murray are about to submit to Palgrave their book, America and the World since 1945. Murray, an especially promising young scholar who completed her PhD at Ulster in 1997, has a proposal under consideration for an edited volume on the Anglo-American special relationship, which will include essays by Fraser and our Visiting Scholar, Gordon Martel. Kirby has a contract with Pluto for a volume on Truman’s use of religion in the Cold War, and is also working on an edited volume on religion and the Cold War. This expanding area of interest is being underpinned by the purchase of primary materials on post-war American foreign policy for the Library and a full-time PhD student, researching Anglo-American relations in the 1960s, began work in October 2000 under the supervision of Murray and Fraser. They, together with staff from INCORE, are also engaged with the Carter Center in Atlanta in exploring possible research collaborations, as a result of a visit made in May 2000.
Research Cluster: Social and Cultural History
This is a new area of specialism, stimulated in part by the recent appointments of O’Connell and Ryan (whose work on visual representations brings an exciting new dimension to our Unit). This area also exploits existing research strengths evident in the published work of Stephen Ickringill, Dr Lindley and Springhall, and as yet unpublished work on images of empire by Jeffery.
One important development was the establishment in 1999 of a Centre for Cultural Heritage, aiming to exploit the shared research interests of historians and historical geographers working in the university, as well as drawing in scholars from other disciplines, such as art and design. The joint directors of the Centre were Jeffery and Professor Brian Graham (School of Environmental Studies). This initiative encompassing culture in all its manifestations, from museology through to the oral culture of working-class Belfast and Derry, underscored the bid for Irish Cultural Heritages funding. In the latter context, for example, we are hoping to engage with the many local history groups who are seeking to understand their own heritage. Linkages have been formed with the University of Strathclyde to explore Ulster-Scots themes, and a jointly-sponsored conference is planned for June 2001. The Centre is currently developing a major project to translate and produce a modern scholarly edition of the Commentarius Rinuccinianus, an extremely important 17th-century text. Funding has been promised from the Irish government and further support sought from the AHRB.
Other projects in this area include a guest lecture series, ‘Culture, economy and society: new historical perspectives’, initiated in 1999 by younger members of the School, which Ulster hosts and funds jointly with QUB. The aim is to present the most interesting or innovative of current historical work in Britain and Ireland and foster a focus for the research culture in the history department, recognising the advantages of creating research networks that encompass Ulster and Queen’s Belfast historians, historians in the rest of Ireland, and in Great Britain. Contributors to this series have included Professors Tom Devine (Aberdeen), Pat Thane (Sussex) and Cormac O Grada (University College Dublin).
Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages
In December 2000 it was announced that the University had won £3 million from government and privately-endowed sources, after an evaluation process conducted by an international panel of experts, for the establishment of an Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages. This will incorporate the work begun by the Centre for Cultural Heritage (which will be subsumed within the new development) and in an innovative way bring together scholarship and research expertise in History (the lead discipline), Irish Studies and English. The aims of the Academy are to create an interdisciplinary research centre, headquartered at Magee College, which will achieve international excellence and raise the quality in all three contributory areas by releasing synergies in a planned integration of strengths; to develop a powerful research presence in the North-West of Ireland, which will have an integrated and thematised research mission to question the meaning and uses of heritage by interrogating issues of identity, memory, and place as they relate to the reformulation and renegotiation of the complex interdependencies between Ulster, the rest of Ireland, Britain, Europe, and the Diaspora; and to enhance the research cultures in the three collaborating areas by means of seven strategic research appointments. The Academy’s Director will be a professorial-level appointment in History. Lectureships in History and Place as Heritage, and in Heritage Management, together with a research officer, will also be based in the School of History and International Affairs. Together these appointments relate, as do the other five in the new Academy, to its three governing themes: narratives of Irishness; memory, place and identity; and heritage management. The Academy is committed to viewing Heritage as multiply-constructed and plural.
Research Cluster: Medicine and Science
History continues to have a strong commitment to the social history of medicine and science. The former is led by Professor Jones who secured a major grant from the Wellcome Foundation for a study of tuberculosis in Ireland. This ran from 1992 to 1995. The resulting book has been accepted for publication by the Wellcome Institute/Rodopi Cio Medica Series edited by Roy Porter and W F Bynum and has gone into production. A further Wellcome grant, to support a post-doctoral fellowship, was awarded to Dr James McGeachie in 1995 to write a biography of the Dublin surgeon, Sir William Wilde. The fellowship is now completed and the final report is being drafted. A part-time research student is working on the history of the Belfast Lunatic Asylum and a research studentship, funded by our T K Daniel Fund, has been awarded for a study of prostitution in 20th-century Ireland. A further studentship has been targeted for the development of a joint project with Jeffery on medicine in Ireland during the First World War. Professor Sturdy’s study of the scientific influence of the Abbé Bignon, referred to in our 1996 submission, has contributed to some of his nominated publications, as well as a review of the archives of the Académie des Sciences (written with C Demeulenacre-Douyère of the Archives Nationales) for M Hunter (ed), Archives of the Scientific Revolution (1998). He is currently writing a book on Bignon, contracted by the Voltaire Foundation.
The History staff are dispersed across three of the four University campuses: Magee (Londonderry), Coleraine and Jordanstown. In addition we are comparatively remote from other centres of historical excellence in the United Kingdom. We therefore place a special importance on both encouraging colleagues to attend conferences and in hosting them ourselves. Increased funding since 1996 has helped us sustain this activity. Conferences are a very important device to help overcome distance within the university and between researchers in Ireland, Great Britain and elsewhere. As a leading centre for historical scholarship in Ireland we also have a responsibility to bring outstanding scholars to the island.
In 1994 Geary organised the annual conference of the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland. In the same year and in 2000 members of the unit organised the annual conference of the Irish Association for American Studies. The 2000 event, organised at Magee by one of our new staff members (Murray), included speakers and participants from the USA, Poland, Germany and Spain, as well as Ireland and the UK. In 1995 Ickringill, a committee member of the British Society for Sports History, organised the society’s annual conference in Huddersfield on the theme of ‘Amateurism and Professionalism in Sport’. Ickringill was a member of the steering group under the leadership of Professor D K Adams which established the biennial meetings of European-based Historians of the United States, held since 1995 at the Roosevelt Study Center, Middleburg, The Netherlands. Separately (but at the same location) he and Professor S L Hilton, The Complutense, Madrid, in 1998 organised a symposium on European Perceptions of the Spanish-American War. Ickringill additionally serves on the organising committee for the biennial Ulster-American Heritage Symposium, which is sponsored by the University of Ulster, together with the Northern Ireland Centre for Migration Studies and a consortium of universities in the United States. In 1996 the University hosted a symposium, ‘Integration and Diversity’ (part-funded by the British Academy), on the history of the relations between Great Britain and Ireland since 1500. In 1997 Sharp, who is a committee member of the British International History Group, organised the group’s annual conference at Coleraine.
During 2000, on behalf of the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences, Jeffery organised a conference at Coleraine on ‘Soldiers, States and Society in the Modern World’, at which papers were given by our two Visiting Scholars for 1999-2000, Peter Dennis (Australian Defence Force Academy/University of New South Wales) and Gordon Martel (University of Northern British Columbia), as well as A P Thornton (Canada), Thomas Bartlett, Eunan O’Halpin and Geoffrey Roberts (Ireland), and George Boyce and Michael Dockrill (Great Britain). On 25 March a one-day conference for the centenary of the Boer War was jointly organised with the Ulster Museum (Belfast), and included Fransjohan Pretorius (Pretoria), Edward Spiers (Leeds) and Donal Lowry (Oxford Brookes). In April 2000 Kirby organised at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s, London, a conference on ‘Religion and the Cold War’ which opened a new dimension in Cold War studies. It attracted participants from the USA, Canada, Russia, Tibet, India, Germany, Finland, and the UK. Ulster historians hosted the January 2001 Social History Society of the UK conference. O’Connell was the organiser and eight colleagues gave papers. This also encompassed the first formal collaboration between the Social History Society and the Irish Economic and Social History Society. Fraser is organising a conference on American Studies with colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of the University's strategy of fostering links with leading institutions in the United States. This will also involve Ickringill, Murray, Kirby and Springhall, and is planned as the first in a series of collaborations between the two universities.
We also provide funds for occasional lecturing visits by leading historians. In 1999-2000, for example, Professor Bob McMahon (Gainsville, Florida) came to speak on Vietnam and US policy in the Far East, and Professor Michael Fry (University of Southern California) spoke on Lloyd George.
The University’s research objectives
The objective for the University over the next five years is to enhance further its reputation as ‘a model of an outstanding regional university with a national and international reputation for quality’. It will support and develop, in a highly selective manner, key areas of research where national and international excellence have been attained. Core themes permeating its vision are: international, national and regional relevance; the achievement and maintenance of high quality; innovation; development of entrepreneurship; inclusivity encompassing equal opportunities and outreach; influencing, and where appropriate leading, the formulation and evaluation of public and social policies, cultural development and setting of priorities. History is a high priority research area which receives an extremely high level of internal support and through which the University expects to realise part of its vision.
The History Research Context
The implementation of the History research strategy is overseen by the History Unit of Assessment Coordinator (Jeffery), who is ex officio a member of the Faculty of Arts Research Sub-Committee and has an annual budget to support research. This is used for visits to archives, conference attendance, teaching relief (especially to enable study leave), hosting conferences and visiting lecturers, and the funding of short-term research assistants for particular projects. Money is earmarked to help research students with their expenses. Staff are also encouraged to apply for external research funding, for which administrative support is provided by a well-staffed University Research Office. Sharp, as Head of the School of History and International Affairs, is responsible for making recommendations to the University Finance Committee on the use of the T K Daniel bequest, an estate left to the University for the furtherance of Irish history. In recent years this money has been used primarily to support research studentships. Sharp and Jeffery are members of the Board of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages. Fraser is a member of the University Research Policy and Practice Committee.
The Coordinator, in close liaison with Sharp, oversees mentoring and research support for new appointments. They also have responsibility within History for implementing the University’s leave of absence scheme, annually inviting applications for research study leave (normally for one semester) which go before the Faculty Research Sub-Committee. The awarding of leave is normally contingent on the staff member concerned seeking funding support from external sources and (where applicable) there having been high-quality research output from any previous leave. Since 1996 fourteen out of seventeen eligible members of the Unit have had a period of leave.
The UoA Coordinator is also a member of the Board of the Faculty Research Graduate School, which reports to the Research Sub-Committee and has responsibility for postgraduate students. The School aims to foster a sense of identity for postgraduates across the Faculty’s four schools and the University’s four campuses. The School Board scrutinises research applications, processed through the History UoA, assuring itself that thesis proposals are well-formulated and viable, and that the proposed supervisors are experienced and research active. The University operates a training scheme for research supervisors which new supervisors are required to take. There is a Faculty induction programme for research students. In addition, various monitoring mechanisms have been set in place, including regular reports, jointly compiled by research students and supervisors, and there is a system of annual reports, all of which are reviewed by the Graduate School Board. One mechanism which we have found to be of particular value requires research students between ten and fifteen months from initial registration to present a substantial piece of work to a panel comprising the supervisor, and two other staff members, one from the relevant subject area and one from a different School within the Faculty. The Panel is usually chaired by the head of the Research Graduate School. Postgraduate students have Faculty rooms on each campus and access to computer facilities. They are encouraged to attend and present papers to conferences, and we have recently established a 19th and 20th-century Irish history ’network’ which operates regular informal meetings and staff-student seminars.