2018 Conference CfP

‘The UK through Comparative and Transnational Perspectives’

King’s College London

2 July 2018

Keynote Speaker: Professor Guy Ortolano, New York University

This is the second annual conference of King’s Contemporary British History (KCBH). We will again be running a new kind of conference – designed to generate engaged discussion. This year, our aim is to examine the United Kingdom in a comparative and transnational perspective and question the place of the nation in the wider world as we prepare to leave the European Union.

Transnational and comparative perspectives have been rare in the study of modern British history, and we wish to encourage arguments and contentions from these viewpoints, and to recover forgotten ones. We wish to ask in a systematic way, how does, say, the history of British socialism look in a global mirror, or the history of militarism or environmentalism. Sometimes the focus will be on debates where such perspectives have appeared; in others we have chosen themes where such a perspective might usefully be applied. In any case we wish to bring to light implicit and explicit arguments for British lack of exceptionalism, as well as it presence.

Our aim is not to provide a vehicle for the presentation for new research, but rather to generate discussion and reflection, to revisit major debates and positions and ask where they stand now. These conversations will be grounded in the current political moment, looking to the future as much as the past.

The day will be structured around panels on the key subject/books which have or could usefully have an established comparative and transnational dimension. Each will be led by major scholars in the field.

We invite five minute papers that speak comparatively to one of the following areas and books:


  • Welfare states
  • Empire and decolonization
  • Modes of warfare
  • Business and the economy


Please reflect on these issues in light of their anniversaries. How has the discussion changed with these commemorations?

  • Suffrage
  • The Munich Conference and its effects
  • Peace Movements
  • Franco-British Relations
  • Olympic and other sports
  • Nationality and National Identities
  • Health systems
  • Government of Ireland (including the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement)


  • C.B.A. Behrens, Merchant Shipping and the Demands of War (1955)
  • Ralph Miliband, Parliamentary Socialism (1961)
  • A.J.P. Taylor, English History (1965)
  • Eric Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire (1968)
  • Angus Calder, The People’s War (1969)
  • Margaret Gowing, Britain and Atomic Energy 1939–1945 (Independence and Deterrence 2 vols (1975)
  • Keith Middlemas, Politics of Industrial Society (1979)
  • Noreen Branson, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927–1941(1985) and History of the Communist Party in Britain 1941–1951 (1997)
  • Arthur Marwick, The Sixties: Cultural Revolution in Britain, France, Italy, and the United States, c. 1958-c. 1974 (1998)

Proposals should be no longer than 250 words for individual papers, and 1,000 words for three-person panels. They should be sent to Dr Maggie Scull (margaret.scull@kcl.ac.uk) by 19 April 2018. The abstract should be submitted as a Word attachment and include: 1) the title of your presentation; 2) institutional affiliation; 3) your professional status – academic, doctoral student, independent scholar/other, and 4) your contact details, including your email address. Applicants will be informed of the outcome the week beginning 23 April 2018.

The Study of Contemporary British History at King's College London