Professor Peter Paul Catterall
Professor of History and Policy
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After a history degree at Cambridge (1984) I undertook my doctoral thesis on religion and politics in inter-war Britain at Queen Mary, completing in 1989. I then spent a year as a research fellow at the Institute of Contemporary British History, writing an award-winning bibliography of post-war Britain. From 1989 until 1999 I was Director of this Institute. I have been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 1996. In 1999-2000 I was on a Fulbright as visiting professor of British history at Westminster College, Fulton Missouri. On my return to the UK I taught history and politics at Queen Mary University of London until my appointment as Reader in History at Westminster in October 2012. I have been Professor of History and Policy at Westminster since November 2016. My interests are wide-ranging. Having edited Contemporary British History from 1991-2003, I founded the journal National Identities in 1999. My focus upon the history of the relationship between identities, ideas and political culture is reflected in my research, the PhDs I have supervised and my work with think tanks like the Hansard Society and the Centre for Opposition Studies. I also have an interest in public history, reflected in my current work on lieux de memoire. I have been a member of the London Historic Environments Forum since 2011 and a Board member at Crossness Engines Trust since 2013, becoming chair in July 2017.
I have taught widely over my career in places as far-flung as America and Iraq. At Queen Mary one of my courses, 'Concepts of Europe', covered the sweep from Herodotus to the EU. When in the US I taught Western Civilization. My history teaching, however, has tended to focus upon Britain and its empire since the eighteenth century. This has included both survey courses and detailed studies on subjects such as the history of the East End, post-war popular culture or the nature of oral history. At masters level courses I have taught range from 'Democracy and Public Policy' for the Hansard Society, through 'Business in Europe' as a visiting lecturer at Cass Business School, to 'Comparative Welfare States' at Queen Mary. At Westminster I currently teach 'New Liberals to New Labour: British Politics 1906-2010' and a special subject on Churchill, as well as guest lecturing on subjects ranging from religion and politics to the development of aid policy. I have supervised PhD students on various subjects, including political cartoons in nineteenth century Britain, Britain and the US Civil War, post-war attitudes to finance and the history of natural childbirth. I have six PhD completions and am currently supervising or co-supervising five PhD students - working on the Church of England and English national identity 1780-1850; counter-terrorism and the Channel programme, Macmillan and Adenauer (jointly with the Humboldt University, Berlin); prisons and human rights; and the Opposition and Brexit. I would welcome PhD students looking at the relationship between culture and politics from the 18th century onwards.
My current research ranges from the intersection between heritage, lieux de memoire and public memory to Labour and decolonization in the 1950s.
In 2017-18 I led a MUPI project with London Transport Museum looking at the development of the concept of 'Academics in Residence'.
In 2012-15 I was a consultant on Centre for Opposition Studies projects on political reform in Jordan and Kuwait, funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
My most recent commissioned research work was on Brexit for the Danish Society for Contemporary Historical Research in 2017.