Research in the Department of History

In this section


History at Goldsmiths pushes the boundaries of what ‘history’ means. We do that through the novel subjects we focus on, our innovative approaches, the sources we use, and ways in which we engage with the public.


We are diverse in our geographical coverage and the composition of our staff.  We actively seek to make history more accessible to all potential students, along with scholars and academics from previously marginalised constituencies, both within and outside the UK.

History at Goldsmiths is internationally leading. Our staff continue to win major international prizes and lead research projects which have global scope and significance. Much of our work is interdisciplinary and we research topics from medieval to modern.  Our geographic scope covers Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

We have attracted special funding for our research, from bodies including the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the Wellcome Trust and the Panacea Society.

Staff have also held prestigious international fellowships including through the Austrian Academy, at Harvard, Uppsala, Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin, Jena and Griefswald, and the Alexander von Humboldt fellowship.

We have particular strengths in the following research clusters:

  • Sexuality, gender, the body, emotions and medical history
  • Military history, with a focus on social and cultural approaches
  • The Balkans and Eastern/Central Europe
  • UK/British social and cultural history, especially Black British history

We lead research-based initiatives which are the first of their kind: the Centre for Queer History (with its own MA), an MA in Black British History, the Centre for the Study of the Balkans, and the Centre of the Body. We edit the British Journal for Military History, convene a University of London Seminar Southern Africa: History, Society and Culture and co-convene six seminars at the Institute of Historical Research:

Our major publications include books on:

  • The History of Emotions: An Introduction
  • Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206-1335
  • ReOrienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters Along the Silk Roads
  • ‘Gold Tried in the Fire’: The prophet TheaurauJohn Tany and the English Revolution
  • Vice in the Barracks: Medicine, the Military and the Making of Colonial India, 1780-1868
  • Everyday Heroism: Victorian Constructions of the Heroic Civilian
  • Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth-Century England
  • Subjects, Citizens and Others: Administering Ethnic Heterogeneity in the British and Habsburg Empires, 1867-1918
  • Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918
  • The Children's War: Britain, 1914-1918
  • Ring of Steel:  Germany and Austria-Hungary at War, 1914-1918
  • Belfast Boys: How Unionists and Nationalists Fought and Died Together in the First World War
  • Dublin’s Great Wars: The First World War, the Easter Rising and the Irish Revolution
  • The Fortress:  The Great Siege of Przemysl
  • Elusive Compromise: A History of Interwar Yugoslavia
  • Nikola Pašić and Ante Trumbić: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
  • Bitter Freedom: Ireland in a Revolutionary World 1918-1923
  • The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power
  • African Women and Apartheid: Migration and Settlement in Urban South Africa
  • Social Movements in Egypt and Iran

Our publications can be found on Goldsmiths Research Online.

History at Goldsmiths is home to a growing and lively community of postgraduate research students.

Find out more about our staff research interests on their individual pages.

Our research strategy

Our strategy is based on the Goldsmiths Strategic Plan for 2018-2023 and focuses on how our actions and plans relate to the research aspects of that strategy, within the overarching Goldsmith objective to ‘Support research excellence that addresses local, national and global challenges.’

Achieving academic excellence

We pursue intellectual curiosity through convening seminars on a wide range of subjects so that we are actively involved with cutting-edge research.  Current work includes convening six seminars at the Institute of Historical Research. We encourage the highest standards of research and practice: through publishing work with prestigious series and publishers, editing journals, and securing prizes, for example, by editing the British Journal for Military History and recently winning prizes such as the Wolfson History Prize.

We are building on our diverse strengths through interdisciplinary imagination through our own research and external collaborations, in particular the Centre for the Study of the Balkans, the Centre of the Body and the Centre for Queer History. We develop synergies between teaching and research through regularly updating the modules we offer to students and creating new modules.  Recent new modules include, for example, Black and British, Capitalism and Homosexuality, Ireland’s First World War, and 1850: The Great Exhibition.

Radical and innovative thinking

We cultivate a unique and creative approach, daring to think differently, challenging norms and embracing new ideas with energy and reflection by creating, for example, research-led MAs in the Queer History and in Black British History, which are the first of their kind. Our work on emotional history has set standards in the field. We encourage new entrants to academia, bringing in new ideas, through our membership of the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership, in which we are active participants with a record of success in securing awards.

Respecting the individual

We encourage individuality and nurture talent through generous research leave known as ‘Dedicated Research Leave’ (DRT) and financial support for research expenses for all staff on Teaching and Research contracts.  We are working to increase our external research funding and time is provided for grant applications through allowances which can be made in our workload allocations and through DRT [subject to the approval of DRT policy by Board]. The seminars we convene provide space for freedom of thought and expression while nurturing an environment of openness and tolerance.

Promoting access and diversity, and supporting our students and staff

We have enabled a wide range of people to benefit from our learning opportunities by opening up previously marginalised areas of History through our Centre for Queer History and our MA in Black British History. We are working with young scholars in southern Africa through a writers’ workshop on publishing in academic journals. We led the British Journal for Military History in being unusual in its field with women being a majority of its Editorial Advisory Board members.

We provide additional Dedicated Research Time [subject to the approval of DRT policy by Board] for staff returning for maternity leave, and have worked closely with the local community on historical subjects such as the 1977 Battle of Lewisham and beyond through, for example, the Windrush: Arrival 1948 exhibition. We recruit students from a very diverse range of backgrounds, and the diversity of our staff has increased significantly. 

Creating change, locally and globally

We are socially aware and socially engaged with communities, carrying out public engagement work around the world to ensure that our research has a positive impact and helps to change lives.  We are actively involved in work with schools, for example through Hemel at War and Streatham at War, and a project on Francophones in London during the First World War In South Africa, we have developed sustained relationships with NGOs, faith-based organisations and other members of civil society involved in the management of death in South Africa.

Our work has aided in the professional development of African staff, and shaped training and facilitation on responses to death, grief and loss.  In Northern Ireland, our work on ‘Military History from the Street’ has challenged received popular and sectarian narratives of the First World War, with its methodology being adopted by schools and community groups.  During the 2014-18 First World War Centenary, our staff helped to shape the Department for Education’s The Great War Debate series for A Level students and its Centenary Battlefield Tours programme.

We have enhanced the visibility of queer history locally and among wider audiences through the annual Goldsmiths Queer History Fair (the largest in the UK), our collaboration with the Bishopsgate Institute to set up the Goldsmiths Archive for Queer Life Stories and other public-facing work aligned with the Centre for Queer History. This has all strengthened both local and transnational networks among public-facing organisations and initiatives that engage with queer history to promote the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity.