1 May 2017

This week we welcome Dr Mark Hurst from the University of Kent.  

Mark read Contemporary History at the University of Leicester before completing his doctoral research at the University of Kent. His research focuses on campaigns conducted by human rights organisations during the Cold War, and on activism more broadly in contemporary history. His recent monograph, British Human Rights Organisations and Soviet Dissent, 1965-1985 (Bloomsbury, 2016) is the first piece to critically assess the campaigns for Soviet dissidents from a number of human rights organisations, including Keston College, the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry, the Working Group on the Internment of Dissenters in Mental Hospitals, the Campaign Against Psychiatric Abuse, and Amnesty International. This monograph argues that although activists played an important role in broader awareness of Soviet human rights violations, it was not until conditions in international relations were right in the mid-1970s that they began to obtain recognition.

Mark's current research focuses on the history of Amnesty International, an organisation that has become synonymous with human rights concerns in the twentieth century. Despite this position, the influence of Amnesty International on the wider political process has been relatively understudied, something his research is aiming to address. He is particularly interested in how organisations such as Amnesty International functioned during the Cold War, when human rights issues were often at the forefront of international relations. Alongside this, Mark is interested more broadly in the history of human rights, dissent, and activism.”


We look forward to working alongside Mark, and welcoming two new members of staff, Dr Nick Radburn and Dr Sophie-Therese Ambler in the next few weeks, ready for Michaelmas term.  


Sophie joins us from the UEA where her research has explored the role of bishops in rebellion and revolution in thirteenth-century England, looking at the interaction of political thought and action in the age of Magna Carta and England’s first revolution (1258-65). Sophie's monograph (Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213–1272) was published with OUP in January 2017 (here's the Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2jcycHj ).Now working on a biography of Simon de Montfort (d.1265), leader of England’s first revolution, for Pan Macmillan. Sophie's next major area of research will be the soldier of later medieval England – bringing together social, cultural and intellectual history in order to explore the experiences and cultures of troops operating in the British Isles and France between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, as well as the shifting patterns of thought concerned with soldiers and their roles and responsibilities in conflict.


Nick joins us from John Hopkins University and specialises in Atlantic History and the Slave Trade.