Past Events


The Active Utopian: A Celebration of The Work and Passions of Nigel Todd, 20 June 2022

Anyone involved in social movement campaigning or the labour and trade union movement on Tyneside will have known Nigel Todd. The Labour and Society Research Group’s last connection with him was his and Jude Murphy’s contribution to a conference and subsequent publication on 1919 as a moment of global contentious politics.

Alongside the Worker’s Educational Association, North East Labour History Society, Labour and Society Research Group sponsored and organised a commemorative event for Nigel Todd, the Labour Party councillor, Workers’ Education Association (WEA) educationalist, and labour historian.

Over 100 people attended the event held in the historic Mining Institute now known as the Common Room of the North. Northern Cultural Projects director Sylvie Fisch provided a memory wall display of photographs from Nigel’s campaigning.

Paying a touching personal tribute, Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor, provided the keynote address, speaking to Nigel’s mentorship and commitment to many causes. Next, three WEA colleagues—Keith Hodgson, North East Regional Chair, Jude Murphy, WEA Education Co-ordinator and Anne Staines retired WEA Regional Education Manager—talked of Nigel’s quiet determined action within the organisation.

The next session featured Nigel’s Centenary Commission colleagues, an organisation that celebrated the Ministry of Reconstruction’s 1919 Commission on Adult Education, which provided a landmark in the promise of lifelong learning and adult education for democratic citizenship. Professor John Holford and Sharon Clancy both of Nottingham University, explained the significance of the parliamentary commission and Nigel’s contribution to the Centenary.

Bringing together Nigel’s environmentalism and left politics, Iain Jones, Open University, Ruth Hayward, co-founder of the WEA North East Green Branch, and Dave Webb, of Greening Wingrove all spoke to Nigel’s environmental campaign work.

Fellow Labour Councillors Ann Schofield and Irim Ali spoke of their experiences of Nigel’s commitment as ‘a shop steward for’ his council ward, his mentorship and his connection between the local and the global, between litter and world politics. Photographer Peter Brabban recalled Nigel’s 1983 General Election candidacy in images reflecting that Nigel’s defeat saved him from the Commons.

The afternoon turned to Nigel’s contribution as an educationalist and labour historian. Hazel Johnson. Co-operative college trustee spoke of Nigel’s work with the Co-operative College. Journalist and author Andy McSmith spoke to Nigel’s book on the inspirational radical and editor of the Newcastle Chronicle Joseph Cowan. Charlotte Alston, Northumbria University, spoke about Nigel’s Roses and Revolutionists about the utopian commune on Clousden Hill, Newcastle; Matt Perry talked about Nigel’s research on North East antifascism during the 1930s and Simon Parkinson, WEA General Secretary & Chief Executive summed up on Nigel as an activist historian.

The event closed with songs from Bethany Elen Coyle with Jude Murphy.


Virtual Workshop: New Approaches to the Contentious Politics of Class

In cooperation with Newcastle University, Northern Bridge Consortium (NBCDTP) and the Labour and Society Research Group (LSRG) Convened online via Zoom, Friday 28 May 2021

Keynote speakers:

Professor Tithi Bhattacharya (Purdue University, USA)

Dr. Matt Perry (Newcastle University, UK)

This cross-disciplinary workshop aims to explore the evolved understandings of class in both domestic and transnational contexts throughout the twentieth century and in the contemporary world. In particular, the centrality of the working-class within debates around recent political decisions and trends, such as the vote to leave the European Union, austerity and the resurgence of far- right thought, makes now a pertinent time to discuss the meanings of class, but also invites consideration of the historical significance of class more broadly. There has been a renewed interest in the micro-level experiences of class, leading to consideration of the affective and emotional meanings of class. Equally, in exploring the historical intersection between stigmatisation and class, greater attention is now paid to further layers of marginalisation as a result of gender, race, age or disability.Prompted by the subject of global labour history, this workshop aims to draw attention to the complexity of a multi‐racial, multi‐ethnic, international working class (Lucassen, 2006; Van der Linden, 2008). It embraces studies of gender, race, and postcolonialism to understand the globalised webs in which key issues of labour are located, such as colonialism, neo-liberalism, and industrial decline. In doing so, the workshop considers the salience of memory and nostalgia within understandings of class, both historically and in the present day. Furthermore, it questions how class and its related intersections have been employed to generate solidarity and resistance in some instances but used to sow disunity and stigma in others.

09.55-10.00: Registration
10.00-10.10: Welcome and opening remarks (Katherine Waugh and Joe Redmayne)
10.10-11.15: Keynote 1
Chaired by Joe Redmayne
Dr. Matt Perry (Newcastle University), Class analysis and the historicalmethod
11.15-11.20: Break
11.20-12.05: Panel 1, Intersectionality in Qualitative Research: Considering Class, Race and Gender in Project Design, Interviews, and the Archiving of Material
Chaired by Jack Hepworth
  • Hannah James Louwerse (Newcastle University), Only Time Will Tell: theethical dilemma of oral histories
  • Moushumi Bhowmik (The Travelling Archive), Not Pre-Designed:Creating a Travelling Archive of Field Recordings from Bengal

12.05-13.00: Lunch

13.00-13.45: Panel 2, Interrogating the Global Colour Line

Chaired by Tim Kirk

  • Joe Redmayne (Newcastle University), The Making and Remaking of County Durham’s Working Class, 1919: Racism, Whiteness, and anti- imperialism
  • Duncan Money (Leiden University), Historicizing the white working-class: Evidence from the Zambian Copperbelt
13.45-14.45: Panel 3, Class and its Intersections
Chaired by Máire Cross
  • Katjo Buissink (University of Waikato), Modern Social Movements and anIntersectional Reading of Marx’s Dual In-Itself/For-Itself Class Theory
  • David Cowan (Emmanuel College), Gracie Fields, Class, and the Politics ofWealth in Second World War Britain
  • Elizabeth Tanner (University College Cork), Relations of domination: TheUS, Pakistan, and the Bengali liberation war 1971
14.45-15.00: Break
15.00-15.45: Panel 4, Researching Working-Class Resistance
Chaired by Christopher Loughlin

  • Katherine Waugh (Newcastle University), Refusing to Lie Down and Die:Community Resistance to the ‘Category D’ Policy
  • Christos Efstathiou (Kaplan International College), The Re-emergence ofMoral Economy
15.45-15.50: Break
15.50-16.55: Keynote 2
Chaired by Katherine Waugh
Prof. Tithi Bhattacharya (Purdue University), Our Universal or Theirs? Race, Gender and Civil Society in Late Capitalism
16.55-17.05: Closing Remarks (Katherine Waugh and Joe Redmayne)


Festival of Oral History: 24th-26th March 2020

The Oral History Unit and Collective are excited to announce that Professor Indira Chowdhury from the Center for Public History in Bangalore will be giving our annual keynote lecture in March 2020. Professor Chowdhury’s lecture will be part of Newcastle’s Public Insight series.

The lecture will be part of a three-day celebration of oral history. Workshops and discussions focusing on the future of oral history nationally and internationally will be central to the festival. This will include participant discussions and posters on oral history and historical justice, including oral history and the environment, as well as oral history in development work, in legal settings, and in addressing inequalities.

The three-day event will culminate with a discussion of how we can move towards a more inclusive oral history. Discussions will be led by early career researchers including Aleema Gray, PhD candidate, Warwick University, and founding member of Young Black Historians; George Severs, Oral History Society LGBT+ Special Interest Group activist and PhD candidate Cambridge University; as well as colleagues from the Oral History Unit.


Tuesday March 24th

5pm-6:30pm Indira Chowdhury: Public Insights Lecture Curtis Auditorium, Herchel Building, Newcastle University

7pm-8:30pm Drinks Reception The Courtyard, Old Library Building, Newcastle University

Wednesday March 25th Venue: Armstrong Reception Rooms, Armstrong Building

10am Launch of the Newcastle Oral History Collective Spring Festival

10:30-12:15pm Masterclass with Indira Chowdhury What is Remembered and what is Forgotten: Oral History and the Postcolonial Archive in India

12:15-1:30pm Lunch and Oral History Collective Poster Display

1:30-2:30pm The Future of Oral History (1): Decolonising Oral History

2:30-3:30pm The Future of Oral History (2): Community Oral History

Thursday March 26th Venue: Boiler House, Newcastle University

10am-12pm Oral History Research at Newcastle

12-1:30pm Lunch and Oral History Collective Poster Display

1:30-2:30pm The Future of Oral History (3): LGBT+ Oral History

2:30-3:30pm The Future of Oral History (4): Oral History and Higher Education


Rebellion, Revolution and Resistance in the Twentieth Century: Social Movements, Class and Political Violence

4th & 5th October 2019, Newcastle University

Keynote speakers: Professor Niall Ó Dochartaigh (National University of Ireland, Galway) & Professor Sarah Waters (University of Leeds)

Writing in 2006, Jim Smyth argued that ‘social movement theory and research have tended to focus upon middle-class and peaceable movements in advanced industrial societies. In general, movements with a nationalistic, ethnic or religious dimension have been ignored’.  Smyth’s critique implored scholars to consider movements with more radical objectives, tactics, and strategies. As an intellectual field, social movement theory connects the individual, networks, and movements. Donatella della Porta has defined social movements as ‘networks of individuals and organisations, with common identities and conflictual aims that use unconventional means in order to change the social order’.

This workshop will situate radical social movements (violent and non-violent) in domestic and transnational contexts, throughout the twentieth century and in the contemporary world. With papers connecting concepts from social movement theory with case studies spanning radicalism in labour, feminist, and nationalist movements, it aims to understand more fully global cycles of contestation between the micro-dynamics of contention and broader historical processes.

Chartism Day Annual Conference

1st June 2019, Newcastle University

With grateful thanks to the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, and the Society for the Study of Labour History, the Labour and Society research strand hosted the annual conference on the Chartist movement (1838-1857) for workers’ rights and democracy.

The Chartist conferences were founded at the University of Birmingham in 1995 under the inspiration of the late Dorothy Thompson and have become a staple feature of Society for the Study of Labour History’s calendar of events. As well as a strong contingent of labour historians, the conferences attract a broad spectrum of academics – historians literary scholars, postgraduate students from multiple disciplines and the wider public – all drawn together by a shared interest in Chartist studies and a desire to foster new research in the field and in the study of British radicalism.

The global challenge of peace: 1919 as a Contested Threshold to a New World Order

17th & 18th May 2019, Newcastle University

Labour and Society Research Group and Conflict and Revolution Research Strand at Newcastle University hosted this two-day conference in the Armstrong Building, Newcastle University. The conferences keynote talk: The Black and the Red: the Elaine, Arkansas Massacre of 1919, was delivered by Professor Tyler Stovall (University of California, Santa Cruz).

Race, Class, and Revolution: Insights from 1919

Professor Tyler Stovall (University of California Santa Cruz) led this Labour and Society research seminar. Professor Stovall has written widely on modern French history, focusing on race, labour, colonialism and post-colonialism. His major publications include: Paris and the Spirit of 1919: Consumer Struggles, Transnationalism, and Revolution (2012), The Rise of the Paris Red Belt (1990), and Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light (1996). Professor Stovall has also co-edited several books, including The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France (2003), and Black France/France Noire: the History and Politics of Blackness (2012). He recently published Transnational France: the Modern History of a Universal Nation (2015).


Women, Work, Activism: Pasts, Presents, Futures

9th & 10th November 2018, the Great North Museum and Newcastle University

Organised by Jemima Short (Newcastle University), Hannah Martin (Northumbria University), and Stacy Gillis (Newcastle University), this 2-day conference brought together a diverse range of speakers from many disciplines. The work presented featured historical, theoretical, and applied perspectives in a range of international contexts. The conference was a collaboration between the Labour and History Society and the Gender Research Group, and our thanks go to the Society for the Study of Labour History and the History Workshop Online for their support. The organisers are currently putting together a special issue.

Fighting for Rights: From the Rights of Man to Freedom City Lecture Series

September 2017 – April 2018

In collaboration with the Tyneside Irish Centre and Freedom City, the strand organised a series of lectures focusing on specific historical struggles against discrimination and political oppression, examining the emergence of human rights and social justice within specific historical contexts.

68: Resonances and Reverberations

19th January 2018, Newcastle University

Postgraduate research students Jack Hepworth, Ben Partridge, and Ruairidh Patfield organised this workshop, inviting speakers from a range of disciplines to talk about the ‘afterlives’ of ’68 in transnational contexts. How have collective memories of ’68 been invoked in subsequent political contexts? How have collective memories of ’68 been shaped and transmuted? What relevance does ’68 have today? The keynote speaker was Dr Andrew Tompkins (Sheffield University),

Panels addressed the experience of ’68 and its aftermath in France, Northern Ireland, and the USA. Ben Partridge discussed the iconic photography of Paris’s May ’68 and its impact on collective memory, and Ruairidh Patfield’s paper charted the array of countercultural music emerging from France’s ’68. Dr Sarah Campbell spoke about the enduring significance of rights-based political discourse in Northern Ireland from ’68 to the present day, while Jack Hepworth’s paper addressed 1988 and the contested memories of civil rights in Northern Ireland twenty years on from ‘Northern Ireland’s ‘68’. Dr Andy Clark presented research on the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), a radical African-American union established in Detroit in May 1968, and Dr Ben Houston drew upon oral histories in a discussion of the memories of the Martin Luther King riots in Pittsburgh in 1968.

Keynote speaker Dr Andrew Tompkins from the University of Sheffield concluded proceedings with his paper on the afterlives of ’68 in Western Europe. Discussing his own research into the anti-nuclear movements of France in West Germany in the 1970s, Dr Tompkins used oral histories to chart the disparate trajectories of anti-nuclear activists in the two states, discussing the variegated and subjective understandings of ’68 in the retrospective narratives of former activists. The workshop was well-attended and discussions were lively, with participants from the university, the North East Labour History group, and the local community alike.


The Personnel of Armageddon: Politicians and Artists, 1914-1919

29th November 2017, Laing Art Gallery

Dr Martin Farr of Newcastle University gave this talk to accompany the Laing Art Gallery’s Paul Nash exhibition. Dr Farr’s talk examined the parliamentarians of 1914, who were divided on taking Britain into the First World War, and considered how the war transformed public life in Britain.

‘Fake News!’: An Historical Perspective

10th & 11th November 2017, Newcastle University

In association with the Newspaper & Periodical History Forum of Ireland, Dr Joan Allen of Newcastle University convened the tenth annual conference of the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland (NPHFI) in November 2017. It was only the second time the conference had been held in England.

‘Fake news’ became familiar in late 2016 and early 2017, not least because of international political developments. But is it necessarily a new phenomenon? The control, presentation and manipulation of news has played a key role in the often tumultuous history of Anglo-Irish relations, and in the assertion and subversion of power in colonial, totalitarian and radical societies throughout global history. To what extent does fake news, and its close relative propaganda, represent active falsification of information and the dissemination of misinformation, as opposed to the reporting of mistakes or errors due to confusion? What are the implications of the accusation of fake news for a report or news outlet? How does historical perspective change the evaluation of whether something is fake news?

Whatever happened to our shipbuilding industry? Dr Paul Stott, naval architect and shipbuilder, School of Engineering, Newcastle University

7th November 2017

Supported by Labour and Society, this lecture formed part of Newcastle University’s Insights Public Lecture programme. Dr Stott addressed the legacy of Tyneside’s illustrious shipbuilding past. Why did shipbuilding decline, could it have been avoided, and should we feel responsible?

People’s history in historical pageants in Britain, 1905–2016 (Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne Lecture), Alexander Hutton, King’s College London

25th October 2017, Newcastle University

There were thousands of historical pageants in 20th-century Britain. The mid-1920s saw pageants become concerned with more recent episodes from the Industrial Revolution. During the 1930s and ’40s organisations held pageants depicting working-class history: blending entertainment and remembrance with political agitation and propaganda. Pageants have always provoked debate; a particular example being the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, which had a global impact.

“Cross Disciplines”: An exploration of the intersectionality of biography, transnationalism, gender and labour

20th & 21st September 2017, Newcastle University

This workshop explored themes of interest that have shaped the work of Professor Máire Cross, who served on the steering committee of the Labour and Society Research Group from its inception in 2009. After 12 years in the School of Modern Languages as Professor of French Studies, Máire retired in September 2017. During a distinguished career, Máire established an international reputation as a leading researcher in the field of nineteenth-century French history. Locally, she was a long-standing member of the HaSS Labour and Society History Research Group, and the Gender Research Group.