My PhD project looks at Scottish involvement in the Spanish Civil War, primarily those who went to Spain to fight in the International Brigades. The Spanish Civil War – and the Scots who participated in it – has been a longstanding interest of mine, and I wrote both my B.A. (University of Sydney) and M.Sc. (University of Edinburgh) dissertations on related subjects.

This project, aside from telling the story of a relatively neglected subgroup in Spain, also aims to advance research into the International Brigades more broadly. It looks at how the social and political context of Scotland in the 1930s led to such a relatively large number of Scots volunteering, and explores the insight that the Scots can provide into the experience of fighting in Spain, the nature of the international volunteers’ encounters with Spaniards and the role of Stalinist cultures in shaping the International Brigades.


This topic is a focus point for many of my research interests – the cultures of international Communism, fascism and antifascism in interwar Europe and the history of ‘foreign fighters’ in modern conflicts. In particular, I’m interested in exploring structural parallels between the International Brigades and foreign volunteering in the Syrian Civil War – the only two modern conflicts in which foreign fighters have played such a substantial role.

My PhD has been generously supported by a Wolfson Foundation Scholarship (2014-7), for which I am immensely grateful.


‘The “Premature Anti-fascists”? International Brigade veterans’ participation in the British war effort, 1939-45’, War in History (available online).

‘”Fae nae hair te grey hair they answered the call”: International Brigade Volunteers from the West Central Belt of Scotland in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-9’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 35, No. 1 (2015), pp. 92-114.

Selected Seminar and Conference Papers

‘Networks, locality and decisions among the International Brigade volunteers’, Transnational War Volunteering: From Garibaldi to the Cold War, University of Leeds, 10-11 July 2018.

‘An ‘Army of Strangers’? Recruitment for the International Brigades Reassessed’, Modern International History Group Seminar, University of Sheffield, 19 April 2018.

‘“No es Ingles – Escoces”: Relations between Scots and Spaniards in the International Brigades’, Cañada Blanch Centre Discussion Group, LSE, 16 November 2017.

‘An enemy within? The boundaries of International Brigade veterans’ participation in the British war effort’, Workshop: From the Spanish Civil War to World War II. Trajectories of transnational antifascist volunteers, University of Leeds, 29 June 2017.

‘An army of strangers? Scottish International Brigade volunteers and the importance of locality’, Scottish History Seminar Series, University of Edinburgh, 9 March 2017.

‘Crowdsourcing a war effort: British support for the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War’, War Through Other Stuff Conference, University of Edinburgh, 22-4 February 2017.

‘Heroes or Victims? International Brigade volunteers and the British state during the Second World War’, Crossing Borders Conference, University of Birkbeck, 30 June-1 July 2016.

‘Re-examining the Mobilisation of British volunteers in the Spanish Civil War (1936-9)’, Global Networks of Violence Symposium, University of Cambridge, 25 September 2015.

‘Soldiers without Borders? Parallels between British volunteers in the Spanish and Syrian Civil Wars’, (Un)making the Nation Conference, University of Cambridge 10-11 September 2015.

‘Regional Variation and the Nature of the Aid Spain Movement in Britain, 1936-1939: The Case of Scotland’, Modern British History Network: Conference on Modern British History, University of Strathclyde, 16-17 June 2015.


Jeremiah Dalziel Prize in British History – Winner (2017).

Economic and Social History Society of Scotland Postgraduate Research Essay Prize – First Place (2012/13).