Personal profile

Research overview

I teach and research in the field of modern European history, with a particular focus on Italy and Spain from the late nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century.  I am especially interested in questions of subjectivity, agency and the ‘lived experience’ of dictatorship; processes of cultural production and reception; and methodologies related to 'playing with scales' between different spatial units of analysis from the micro and individual scale through the local and the national to transnational and supra-national scales of analysis.  

I am the Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded research project, ‘Dictatorship as experience: a comparative history of everyday life and ‘lived experience’ of dictatorship in Mediterranean Europe (1922-1975)’ (DICTATOREXPERIENCE: 772353), which runs for five years from September 2018. This research project comparatively explores the subjective lived experience and practice of dictatorship across four countries that straddle the northern shores of the Western Mediterranean, all of which became subject to authoritarian or fascist(ic) forms of government and societal organization during the interwar years: Italy; Portugal; Spain; Greece. It is interested in examining these dictatorships ‘from below’, and how dictatorial policies and ideology were effectively enacted and practiced in everyday spaces, on an intimate, human scale, in order to bring to light the complicated, messy, fragmented and sometimes ephemeral – but no less fear-inducing, coercive and violent – encounters that constituted the 'actually-existing' dictatorships of Mediterranean Europe. As such, the project aims to expand our understanding of how these dictatorships functioned in praxis. This is a collaborative research project, which examines each of the dictatorships (Mussolini’s Italy, Salazar’s Portugal, Francoist Spain and Greece under Metaxas and the Colonels) individually, comparatively and from an ‘entangled’ perspective; working on the project team alongside Kate Ferris are two Post-doctoral Research Fellows, Dr Huw Halstead (Greece) and Dr Grazia Sciacchitano (Italy & Spain) and two PhD students, Josh Hill (Spain) and Yannick Lengkeek (Portugal).


Between 2015-7, I conducted a research project funded by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship entitled ‘In vino veritas: Alcohol and its spaces in fascist Italy’.  This project was interested in exploring the role of bars and other places where alcohol was consumed as spaces of continued (and changing) political sociability in fascist Italy, and of alcohol as a mediating agent between ‘ordinary’ individuals and regime authorities in the context of a dictatorship that had totalitarian pretensions, ruled with coercion and violence and sought to shut down pre-existing avenues for political expression and discussion.  It also explored the changing and sometimes dissonant attitudes of the fascist regime towards alcohol consumption and how these official attitudes intersected with popular practices connected to questions and issues around gender, national identity, health and morality. A number of journal articles / book chapters drawn from this research project are currently in various stages of production.  In addition, I am co-edited a special issue of Contemporary European History on the theme of alcohol production/consumption and questions of power, agency, identity and practice in twentieth century Europe, due to be published in 2020.

I came to the University of St Andrews in 2009, following a one-year lectureship at the University of Durham and seven years of doctoral and postdoctoral work at University College London.  Whilst completing my PhD, I also spent a year as a Marie Curie Eurodoctorate Fellow at the Università Ca’Foscari in Venice. 

I am the chair of the School of History’s Equality & Diversity Committee, and a member of the Institute for Transnational and Spatial History and an affiliate of the St Andrews Institute for Gender Studies (StAIGS).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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