Past Events


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.