Professor of Contemporary European History, University of Oxford

My research and publications have been driven by a number of overlapping interests in European history from roughly the 1930s to the 1960s.

One central element of that interest has been the history of Belgium, which has been much overlooked in the historiography of the twentieth century, but which provides a fascinating example of the interplay of factors of class, of ideology and of linguistic identity. I have published two books on Belgium, most recently (in 2012) The Sorrows of Belgium, and am continuing with research on its post-1945 history, most notably the so-called question royale and the history of the working class.

My other interests are broader and more comparative. I have been the editor of a number of collaborative volumes, including ones on political exiles during the Second World War, on Catholic politics, on political legitimacy in mid-twentieth century Europe, on democracy, on Europeanisation, and on violence.

All of these, though diverse in subject manner, have been primarily concerned with the interface between the social and the political. In particular, I have been concerned to explore what made (and un-made) political stability in Europe across the upheavals of the 1930s and 1940s and into the post-war period, and I am currentlky writing a book about how democracy was understood and practised in Western Europe from the Second World War to the end of the 1960s. I am also involved in a number of collaborative research projects, involving historians across Europe, and am the editor of The English Historical Review.

I teach widely on the history of this period, and have supervised a number of doctorates: on religion in France, on inter-war socialism, on aspects of Belgian history, on Catholic politics and intellectual trends. I should be happy to hear from prospective graduate students interested in working in fields relevant to my interests.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Contemporary European History, University of Oxford