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!
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’
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
This was originally published on 11 May 2016 for the Language of Authoritarian Regimes | There is an old and not necessarily edifying debate that has surrounded the International Brigades almost since their inception. Were the 35,000 men and women who travelled to Spain to defend the Spanish Republic during the bitter civil war of 1936-9 dupes of Stalin? … Continue reading Language and the Logic of Stalinism in the International Brigades
This was originally published on 21 September 2015 for Four Nations History | Unlike the vast majority of contributors to this blog, before writing this piece I needed to surreptitiously check what the working definition of ‘Four Nations History’ actually was. By training and inclination my roots lie in European history, and I have been inflicted … Continue reading Four-and-Twenty Nations? Writing about British participation in the Spanish Civil War
This was originally published on 15 February 2015 for Pubs and Publications| As with just about every history PhD ever, my subject – Scottish involvement in the Spanish Civil War – is somewhat specialised. In fact, I can usually only get about halfway through a short explanation before someone invariably comments, ‘Wow. That sounds niche.’ … Continue reading You’ll Never Work Alone: Dealing with pre-existing communities and interest groups as a researcher