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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. My research interests include everyday life and the 'lived experience' of fascism as well as how ideas and images of modernity and of the past, present and future have helped shape national identities and notions of the self in the late nineteenth century. More broadly, I am interested in the history of every-day life and the 'lived experience' of dictatorship and in questions of cultural production and reception at local, national and trans-national scales of analysis.
At the moment, I am carrying out archival research in the Italian archives (Rome, Florence, Venice and Vicenza, among others) for a project called ‘In vino veritas: Alcohol and its spaces in fascist Italy’, funded by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship. The research project examines the place of alcohol in Italian fascist life. In particular it explores: a) the regime’s attitudes and pronouncements on alcohol, and b) the role of alcohol as a mediating actor between individuals and the fascist state.
I came to the University of St Andrews in 2009, following a 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 doctoral fellow at the Università Ca’Foscari in Venice.
My research and publications to date fit into two main strands of interest. The first stems from my interest in the sometimes gap between the intended intrusions of dictatorships into the everyday worlds of the people they ruled over and the realities of the ‘lived experience’ of these regimes. My recently-published book Everyday Life in Fascist Venice (Palgrave, 2012) explores the Italian fascist regime’s efforts to infiltrate and dictate Venetians’ lives from what they ate and wore to how they spent their free time, from how they celebrated personal and city-wide festivities to how they moved about the city. It then examines how these corresponded with the ‘lived experience’ or realities of fascism on the ground (or water), highlighting along the way some of the opportunities that Venetians were able to take to eke out limited autonomy of action and choice in their everyday lives, despite the all-encompassing intentions of dictatorship.
The second strand picks up the theme of the gap between intentions and realities but this time transplanted to nineteenth-century Spain and the process of ‘becoming modern’. Here, I am interested in the processes by which late nineteenth-century Spaniards thought transnationally about modernity. I have published journal articles and chapters in edited collections on this theme and am currently finishing a book called Imagining America in late nineteenth-century Spain (to be published by Pagrave Macmillan in late 2015/early 2016) which looks at how a group of ‘self-consciously modern’ Spaniards in the late nineteenth century imagined the USA as the epitome (and sometimes anti-model) of modernity and in turn imagined themselves as citizens of a modern Spain. This research arose from a collaborative AHRC-funded project on images of the US and the ‘American way of life’ in late 19th century Europe and Latin America, in which I participated as a postdoctoral fellow.
In addition to completing this book and the research project examining the role of alcohol and its associated spaces in fascist life in Italy, I’m looking ahead to completing a comparative study of everyday life in 20th century European dictatorships and a project which examines both fascism and anti-fascism from a transnational perspective.
I am also a member of the Institute for Transnational and Spatial History
Offers the following honours course:
And the following Special Subject
I currently co-supervise PhD students working in the fields of 19th century Italian and Spanish history. I am happy to supervise students working on any aspect of the political, social and cultural history of Spain and Italy from the late 19th to mid 20th century.