I joked when I started my PhD, amid the skyrocketing numbers of ISIS foreign fighters reaching Syria, that I’d never really expected my research to actually have a semblance of contemporary relevance. Fast forward a few years, and I’m now also delighted  to discover that my related interest in the early history of … Continue reading Anti-fascism and Violence
As I rather breathlessly was able to tell the world last week (well, the proportion of the world that uses Twitter), I have just signed a contract to publish my first book – provisionally titled ‘Scots and the Spanish Civil War’ – with Edinburgh University Press. It is due to be published in mid-2020, assuming, … Continue reading Book!
Up until very recently, I was quite leery of Reddit. Although I knew a few fervent (even evangelical) users, most of my knowledge of the platform was informed by its controversies. There is no doubt that Reddit used to (and to an extent still does) play host some of the darkest corners of the internet. … Continue reading Reddit and Research
James Matthews was recently charged with terrorism offences for his participation in the Syrian Civil War. It itself this would seem unremarkable, except for the fact that he had not fought for the ‘Islamic State’ but for the Kurds, nominally one of the UK’s allies in the region. The controversial decision to charge Matthews for … Continue reading Balancing Ideology with Pragmatism: Spain, Syria and returned ‘Foreign Fighters’
A recent occupational hazard of being an historian of modern Spain has been the expectation that you can explain what is going on in Catalonia right now. Friends and colleagues, stunned by the images of violence seen around the world last weekend, want to know where this has all come from. There have been no … Continue reading Lessons from Catalonia?
I recently came to the realisation that The Castle is my favourite film of all time. I mean, sure, 10-year-old me enjoyed it when it came out twenty years ago, but its place at the top of my personal cinematic pecking order was cemented much later. This is partly due to just how deep the … Continue reading A Love Letter to ‘The Castle’
With the past week seeing the shock resignations of two Greens senators on the grounds of their holding dual citizenship, constitutional issues surrounding parliamentary eligibility have never been more prominent. Whether or not you hold Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters’ actions to be either an honourable response to innocent mistakes, or a fundamental betrayal of … Continue reading Citizen, Subject, Parliamentarian?
No matter our methods, approaches and interpretations, all historians of the International Brigades spend a lot of time doing the same thing: counting. Trying to establish just how many foreigners fought for the Spanish Republic – not to mention who they were and where they came from – is always a tortuous but necessary process. … Continue reading Counting the International Brigades
A recent article in The Guardian by the highly-regarded historian Professor Paul Preston made the case that George Orwell’s classic Spanish Civil War tract, Homage to Catalonia, was ‘bad history’. Attacks on Orwell’s text are not new – his book represents a potent challenge to the legitimacy of the Spanish Republic from one of the left’s … Continue reading In Defence of Orwell’s ‘Bad History’
This was originally published on 7 February 2017 for the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities Blog | I sometimes envy those who study safely dead topics: however important swamp drainage in the sixteenth century might have been to those who valued dry feet, it is unlikely to ever lead to a shouting match … Continue reading The Spanish Civil War, Living History and Pan’s Labyrinth