Postgraduate Spotlight: Daniel Leaver

Daniel Leaver is a second year PhD student. His research focuses on the politics of North Sea oil in post-war Britain.

Originally from the great city of Newcastle upon Tyne just south of the border, I first came to St Andrews as an undergraduate in 2010, graduating in Modern History in 2014. A two-year venture into the real world convinced me it was not a place I wanted to spend much time, and I therefore returned to St Andrews for an MLitt in Scottish Historical Studies in 2016. Following this I began a PhD in 2018, working under the supervision of Dr Malcolm Petrie and generously funded by the Strathmartine Trust for Scottish History.

My doctoral studies examine the politics of North Sea oil in Britain during the sixties and seventies. As my PhD has progressed, I have increasingly realised that there are many important debates about this generally unloved period of post-war history where the topic can act as a fascinating case study.  For example, interest in the potential riches of the North Sea during Harold Wilson’s 1964-70 government is, I believe, an under-appreciated element in that government’s interest in new technologies and the modernisation of British industry. I am currently researching the extent to which Edward Heath’s government realised that North Sea oil offered a potential solution to the ‘energy crisis’ of the early seventies, particularly within the context of prolonged industrial disputes with the National Union of Mineworkers. And while the familiar issue of oil invigorating the cause of Scottish nationalism during the 1970s is an important element of the subject, my thesis is an opportunity to consider the extent to which the arrival of oil played a role in the other great constitutional change of the decade, namely Britain’s entry into the European Community. The ultimate aim is to try and provide a new perspective on a period of political, constitutional, and industrial change which puts the arrival of a new, indigenous source of energy at its centre.

Something I have relished about the St Andrews PhD experience is the opportunity to build a rounded academic CV and to engage in collaborative work. I am a PG Teaching Assistant on the MO2008: Scotland, Britain and Empire module offered by the School, something I thoroughly enjoy and would encourage all new PhD students to involve themselves in if they can. I am also a Research Assistant on the Bibliography for British and Irish History project with fellow PhD student Chelsea Reutcke, and last August co-organised a successful one-day conference on the theme of ‘Ideology and Identity in Post-War Scotland’ with Sarah Leith. This year I am the intern for the Institute of Scottish Historical Research, the main duty of which is organising our ever-popular annual Reading Weekend at the Burn, Edzell.

Away from my work I play for the University Pool and Cue Sports club and have served as Men’s Captain this year. My ‘career’ highlight thus far has been representing Scotland at last year’s Student Home Internationals in Dublin. The trip, of course, included an historical morning before the flight home visiting the General Post Office museum! In the summer months I can regularly be found (much to my supervisor’s disapproval) enjoying a round of golf on the Links. Sadly, sharing a flat with a scratch handicapper has not led to any magical improvements in my game. When not working, or on the table or the golf course, I can usually be found at home cooking or in one of St Andrews’ many pubs, following the highs and (mostly) lows of Newcastle United.

Publication Spotlight: Marriage in the Tribe of Muhammad: A Statistical Study of Early Arabic Genealogical Literature

Blog written by Dr Majied Robinson

The first problem you face when studying the life of Muhammad is the lack of contemporary evidence. There is the Qur’an, and possibly a political agreement he made with the tribes of Medina, but aside from that no written sources whatsoever. What we do have however are thousands and thousands of stories about his life written centuries later.

The discipline of early Islamic history has (thankfully) moved on from either believing or disbelieving this material in its entirety. These days, academic historians sift through these stories looking for oddities, connections, and patterns, some of which may tell us something about the period in which they were composed.

One such process is undertaken in my book Marriage in the Tribe of Muhammad. The focus here is the Nasab Quraysh (tr: The Genealogy of the Quraysh), a book that stabilised into a written format at some point in the 830s CE. It purports to record the child-bearing marriages of Muhammad’s tribe of the Quraysh, and over the course of some 400 pages details hundreds of these relationships, linking together nearly 3,000 named men, women, and children.

I began my research with the idea that some sort of statistical analysis of these relationships would be useful. At this early stage, my assumption was that the book was of late composition and the pattern of relationships recorded would reveal the author’s context of 9th century Medina. What I found, however, was something startlingly different: the patterns I was uncovering were clearly correlated to events occurring during the life of Muhammad and the first Muslims, and in some instances went against later orthodoxies of Islamic origins. I eventually concluded that these records were not a later imagining of the past – they were the actual marriage records of people living at the time of Muhammad.

Key to this study was the concubine, the nameless, non-Arab slave woman who is referred to only as umm walad (tr: mother of a child) in the text. By structuring the data generationally and tracking the occurrences of slave mothers over time, I was able to show that the concubine was completely absent before the time of Muhammad yet when with the arrival of Islam we find that more and more children are being born of these slave women. This gets to the point in the middle of the 8th century that they eventually account for the majority of children born amongst members of this tribe, and they remained the predominant form of elite marriage right into the 20th century.

On one level this is understandable: the time of Muhammad coincided with the Islamic conquests which brought with them enormous numbers of slaves as booty. We would expect this to change marriage behaviour. But this finding is based on a source that is of late composition using novel statistical methodologies. By proving the early provenance of the data and the efficacy of the methodology we are now able to read not just this source in a new fashion but apply our findings to other Islamic historical sources that use genealogical literary forms. It also allows us to look within the Nasab Quraysh at marriages between men and free Arab women. I discuss some of the directions that this could take us in the later chapters of the book.

Postgraduate Spotlight: Lauren Holmes

Lauren Holmes is a first year doctoral student of Modern History and Art History. Her research focuses on modernism and the cultural history of migrant artists in twentieth century Britain.

Growing up in London, Lauren spent her teenage years lurking in art galleries and reading about the lives of others through her never-ending book collection. She became increasingly intrigued by the history of the spaces around us as result of volunteer work at William Morris’ Red House in South East London and a summer spent in employment at Buckingham Palace. Her desire to pursue these interests in more depth gradually became clear. She made the decision to move to St Andrews for her undergraduate degree in Modern History and quickly returned for her Masters having fallen in love with our little seaside town.

During her time as an undergraduate, she grew steadily more interested in both German and British social and cultural history. She sees spatial history as a means of interpreting this. Her masters studies led to a dissertation on the artistic culture of ‘alien’ internment camps in Britain. This project was the catalyst for a newfound curiosity about these lost figures of British art and the place they found within their new environment following their release.

Lauren is currently approaching the end of the first year of her doctoral research after her two-year break from studying. Her return to academia sees her undertaking an interdisciplinary project, working between the Schools of History and Art History under the supervision of Professor Riccardo Bavaj and Dr Sam Rose, to study the impact of German-speaking émigré artists on the British art scene from the 1930s onwards. Despite many of these individuals enjoying success in their careers in continental Europe, relatively little is known about their time in Britain. She hopes to find any forms of influence they may have had on the British art scene- both nationally in terms of artistic content and style and more locally through teaching, interaction, exhibition, and collaboration. Already, this topic is provoking questions relating to the entanglement between modernism, identity, and the experience of migration.

Before pursuing her PhD, Lauren trained as a tattoo artist and continues to work in this field alongside her research, which allows her to indulge her two passions simultaneously. She hopes to use her work to help bridge the gulf between tattoo art and conventional art history, as she believes that each has much to offer the other. She also enjoys painting, podcasts, and pets of any kind. She plans to spend the next 18 months travelling to archives across Britain, Germany, and Switzerland in search of clues about the lives of émigrés in Britain.

Postgraduate Spotlight: James Fortuna

James Fortuna is entering the second year of his PhD. His research focuses on the cultural, social, and spatial history of twentieth-century Europe and the United States.

James (Jimmy) was raised in the Litchfield Hills of Southern New England. After spending his undergraduate years double-majoring in History and English across Appalachia and Andalusia, he continued to see double throughout the British Isles, first studying Classics in Dublin, then Modern History in Cambridge.

Jimmy has spent time as a mountain guide in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, an American football coach, an on-air radio disc jockey, a ski instructor in Vermont, and has led scuba diving courses in every ocean but the Arctic – yet the semesters he spent teaching as a member of the Faculty of Humanities and Foreign Languages at public colleges in Florida and Connecticut remain his favorite professional experiences to date. He took a good deal of time trying to identify a PhD course that would provide him the necessary training and resources to someday make a larger, more lasting impact on the academy and he remains convinced that moving to St Andrews to work directly with Professor Riccardo Bavaj was the right choice.

At its broadest, Jimmy’s research is concerned with the relationship between state-commissioned art or architectural design and national identity. He is also interested in various instances of cultural diplomacy throughout the interwar period and pays particular attention to the material culture of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and the New Deal United States. Three fundamental questions drive the majority of his work: First, how did these three powers engage with one another in socio-cultural terms? Secondly, how did these powers view the world, and how did the world view them? Finally, though perhaps most importantly, how did the cultural programs of each come to affect regular, everyday people both at home and abroad?

Entitled ‘Architectural Diplomacy, Cultural Heritage, and Popular Reception of the Fascist Involvement at the International Expositions of 1933-42’, Jimmy’s project will look to make sense of the way Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany represented themselves at six of the major world’s fairs held during the late interwar period. At the end of Martinmas term 2019, he was fortunate enough to expand his supervisory team and the dissertation will now benefit from the expertise of Dr. Kate Ferris and Dr. Sam Rose.

Jimmy prefers the music scene of Glasgow, the ales of Dundee, and the buildings of Edinburgh. As for his favorite St Andrews libraries, he prefers Martyrs Kirk on rainy days and the far end of the King James when the sun shines. He is a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the John Muir Trust, and both the St Andrews Sub Aqua and Surf clubs. He regularly contributes mixtapes to Ancora Radio, a DJ collective born of the scuba training and expedition group he helped found in 2015, and is excited to launch the Blue Belfry Project soon, an online database of overlooked or abandoned architecture.

He is currently based at the European University Institute in Florence through the Eramsus+ Doctoral Exchange Programme and looks forward to spending the next twenty-four months writing a dissertation his supervisors (and grandmother) can be proud of. Until then, he is happy to experience whatever comes in between.

Publication Spotlight: Anarchists, Terrorists and Republicans

Blog written by Professor Richard Whatmore

Many years ago I discovered Etienne Clavière, a man notorious in his time and even in his death – he was reputed to have stabbed an ivory dagger into his own heart without uttering a sound in order to avoid being dragged to the guillotine. At the time Clavière was imprisoned in Paris in the early years of the French Revolution. He had served as Louis XVI’s last finance minister and the first of the new French Republic. As a Girondin victim of the ruling Jacobins, however, he was arrested, imprisoned, and prepared for execution. Clavière was accused of being an English agent when he was arrested. Although this was nonsense, it was the case that he was an Irish subject of the British crown, having taken an oath of fealty to George III at Dublin in February 1783. Very few people are aware of Clavière’s back-story, which led him from the independent republic of Geneva to friendships with British ministers during and after the American Revolution, and then involvement in the revolution at Paris, which ultimately killed him.

My book Terrorists, Anarchists and Republicans tells the story of Clavière and his associates, who were involved in a remarkable political experiment before the French Revolution. They aspired to move the republic of Geneva – the centre of European Calvinism – to just outside the city of Waterford in Ireland. They wanted to do this because they felt that Geneva was no longer an independent state. Its manners had been corrupted by French luxury, its people were no longer frugal, and Calvinism itself was deemed to be being destroyed. One of the main figures Genevans like Clavière believed was poisoning Geneva was Voltaire, who lived on the edge of the city and whose mission of spreading enlightenment entailed the abolition of Calvinism. Voltaire thought that the Genevans who had expelled the bishop and gained liberty at the time of the Reformation then placed themselves in a prison erected by Calvin.

After Clavière came to power through a popular rebellion at Geneva in April 1782 he knew that he was risking the wrath of Louis XVI and his chief minister Vergennes – the latter hated republicanism and worried about popular government on France’s borders. Although Clavière and his fellow republicans tried to get the support of other states, the French were determined to crush them. Twelve thousand troops invaded Geneva from France, Bern, and Savoy. When the invaders mounted canons on mounds of earth outside the gates of the city, the people inside were ready for martyrdom. Men, women, and children had worked to repair the city walls and had placed gunpowder in the cathedral of Saint Pierre and in the houses of their enemies in the city, whom they branded aristocrats. Clavière and his fellow leaders at the very last moment took the decision not to die to teach the world how endangered republics were – rather they fled and ended up in Britain. They persuaded the Prime Minister Lord Shelburne to give them £50,000 to build a new city in Ireland. A hundred families travelled and like Clavière became Irish subjects. The French launched a campaign against the exiles, attacking them as terrorists and anarchists, wild fanatics who followed the dangerous philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. For a variety of reasons the city failed. It was turned into a barracks. Then, in a remarkable irony, the place that had started life as a possible utopia for republicans was turned into a prison for Irish republicans, the United Irishmen who rebelled in 1798. So atrocious were the conditions in the prison, called New Geneva Barracks, that it passed into folklore. James Joyce mentions it in Ulysses but the story of the place has not been told until now.

Postgraduate Spotlight: Chelsea Reutcke

Chelsea is a final year PhD student in Reformation Studies. In this blog she shares what draws her to studying ‘overlooked figures in history’.

Raised in Cincinnati and Chicago on a steady diet of Agatha Christie and history documentaries, Chelsea dreamed of someday living in the UK. Her love for mysteries extended beyond the realm of fiction, and from age twelve she became fixated on figuring out and understanding the past. After deciding that forensic anthropology required too many biology classes, she fixed her sights on history. 

During her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, she was drawn to overlooked figures in history as well as those whose stories had been overwritten by a popular narrative. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on the ‘afterlives’ of Anne Boleyn in Protestant and Catholic polemics. This in turn led to a fascination with the under-recognized Catholic priest and vitriolic writer, Nicholas Sander, and his scandalous history of the English Reformation. This became the subject of her 2014 MLitt dissertation, undertaken at St Andrews under the supervision of Dr Jacqueline Rose. When Chelsea returned to St Andrews for her PhD in 2016, she found the perfect continuation of this work in a thesis on the production and circulation of Catholic books in England. 

Chelsea is now in the final year of her doctoral studies on Catholic texts in Restoration England, again under the supervision of Dr Rose. As in her earlier studies, the themes of hidden figures and mysterious queens (in this case, Catherine of Braganza) feature heavily in her work. She continues to focus on historical networks and lived experiences, particularly of the obscure printers and booksellers in London who produced Catholic books. Her favourite is a Catholic bookseller by the name of Matthew Turner. Despite selling over a hundred different titles and being described by contemporaries as ‘that notorious popish bookseller’, little is known about Turner compared to many of his Protestant counterparts, making every detail about him an exciting discovery.

Chelsea loves bringing new life to a topic deemed uninfluential in the wider historiography and giving agency to a group usually discussed in terms of outside fear through her research. Even in the final stretch, her love for her topic has not wavered, and the many avenues for further investigation it yields has already resulted in two upcoming publications: one on the private interests of the enforcers of the 1662 Licensing Act, and the other on the patronage networks surrounding Catherine of Braganza. 

Meanwhile, she’s exploring new approaches to history and public outreach through her participation in the Bibliography for British and Irish History and the ongoing ‘St Andrews 1559’ project by Open Virtual Worlds, supervised by Dr Bess Rhodes. This year, the project produced a digital reconstruction of Holy Trinity parish church, of which Chelsea’s favourite detail is the little set up steps on the side of the main entrance.

Now living her childhood dream, Chelsea tries to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities offered by life in Scotland. She has danced in a Regency ball, shot arrows in a medieval castle, and even travelled to Stockholm on a cheap flight to see a live podcast about murder. Her bookshelves continue to be filled with history texts and murder mysteries, and she looks forward to the day those books will feature her name. 

Staff Spotlight: Dr Montserrat Lopez Jerez

Blog written by Dr Montserrat Lopez Jerez. Dr Lopez Jerez is a new addition to the School of History this year. Her research focuses on the economic history of developing regions, particularly colonial and post-colonial economic development in East and Southeast Asia. 

Montse in Luang Prabang

I am not sure if my academic career qualifies as conventional–it has definitely not been straightforward. Before my current work, I spent years studying natural sciences and almost applied to medical school. Instead, I opted for a quicker entry into the labour market and went for Business Administration, majoring in international economics in Icade, Madrid. I took advantage of the extra academic opportunities offered by the university while I was there, which eventually resulted in combining my studies with work in, among others, investment banking (ING Barings) and strategic consultancy (Arthur D. Little), as well as volunteer work.

By the time I graduated I was ready to move from Spain, and I was lucky enough to get a paid internship sponsored by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) to work for one year at the Commercial Section of the Spanish Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, followed by two years in Vientiane, Laos as a trade consultant. Witnessing the remarkably quick transformations taking place in the region and being part of the striking inequalities, I was bitten by an academic curiosity which led me to a Masters in Asian Studies at Lund University, Sweden. I specialised on Southeast Asia and carried out my fieldwork in Thailand under the supervision of Professor Christer Gunnarsson. Under his and Associate Professor Martin Andersson’s supervision, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the effects of factor endowments in influencing the developing paths of the two rice deltas of Vietnam from colonial times. I obtained my PhD in Economic History in 2015 and stayed in Lund as a lecturer at the Department of Economic History and the Centre for Asian Studies. I was again very fortunate as my dissertation won the Wallander scholarship granting me three years of research fellowship.

A map of French Indochina taken by Montse at the French Archives (ANOM) in Aix-en-Provence

Lund, especially the Department of Economic History, was home for fourteen years. During this time I worked mainly on my dissertation which is now a monograph titled Deltas Apart – Factor Endowments, Colonial Extraction and Pathways of Agricultural Development in Vietnam. As Swedish dissertations have an ISBN, its conversion into a book has not been forthright but it is one of my upcoming projects. Emanating from the dissertation, I have published four research pieces, of which the latest are on the modern transformation of Vietnam examining the linkages between rural transformation and inclusiveness (in Innovation and Development 2019) and one shortly forthcoming in an edited volume by CUP on the fiscal capacity of the colonial state in Africa and Asia (edited by Ewout Frankema and Anne Booth). Here I explore the formation and evolution of the French fiscal state in Indochina in relation to the paradox of being portrayed as one of the most extractive states (when it comes to taxation) while its revenues per capita are amongst the lowest in colonial East and Southeast Asia.

Since August 2019, I have been participating in a recently granted Lund-based project which aims at understanding what makes developing countries resilient to economic shrinking. This will run for three years. Simultaneously I am expanding my work on understanding and quantifying inequalities in rural economies and their effect in economic development in East and Southeast Asia.

My teaching in St Andrews reflects my academic interests, diverse and broad training, and experience of working in European environments while specialising in Asia. My honour modules are: MO3388 (the East Asian Economic Miracle), MO3355 (on colonialism in East and Southeast Asia), and MO4854 (Equality, Institutions and the Development of the Modern State).  I look forward to engaging in MO1008, HI2001, and the MSc in Economic and Social History next year.

When I’m not at work, I spend my time with my kids and other loved ones spread across the globe.