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Dr Michael Collins


Dr Michael Collins is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in twentieth-century British and imperial history.

He is a historian of politics, broadly defined, with a particular interest in the role of ideas. The intellectual and social contexts that shape elite political action form the main focus of his research. He is interested in how political ideas and actions are legitimated in national and international public spheres, and how imperial, international and transnational historical forces impact upon this.

The historical problem within which Dr Collins explores these themes is decolonization: the end of the European empires in the twentieth century. His work focuses both on the politics of decolonization in the empire, as well as on the way decolonization shaped or intersected with politics, public opinion and identity in the metropole, specifically with regard to questions of immigration, race and citizenship. Whilst Britain constitutes the primary focus of his research and teaching, he is also interested in comparative studies, particularly with the French experience.

PhD supervision

Dr Collins welcomes applications from students wishing to study for a PhD connected to imperialism and decolonization, especially in relation to the metropolitan "afterlives" of empire post-1945.

Recently completed PhDs: Jack Taylor, 'The Attlee Government and the collapse of British Power in Iran, 1945-1951'; Jack Saunders, 'The British motor industry 1945-77: how workplace cultures shaped labour militancy'; Kieran O'leary, 'From Birmingham to Bulawayo: The Labour government, race and decolonisation, 1964-1970'; Kevin Guyan, 'Masculinities, planning knowledge and domestic space in Britain, c.1941-1961'; Hana Qugana, 'The cultural politics of Englishness: John Gordon Hargrave, the Kibbo Kift and Social Credit, 1920-1939'.

Major publications

  • 'Nation, State and Agency: Evolving Historiographies of African Decolonization', in A.W.M. Smith and C. Jeppesen (eds.), Britain, France and the Decolonization of Africa: Future Imperfect? London: UCL Press, 2017.
  • 'Decolonization', in J. Mackenzie (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Empire. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.
  • 'Decolonization and the "Federal Moment"', Diplomacy and Statecraft 24 (1), 21-40 (2013).
  • Empire, Nationalism and the Postcolonial World: Rabindranath Tagore's Writings on History, Politics and Society. London: Routledge, 2011.
  • 'Rabindranath Tagore and Nationalism: An Interpretation'. In A. Fischer and C. Speiss (eds.), State and Society in South Asia: Themes of Assertion and Recognition. New Delhi: Samskriti, 2014.

For a full list of publications, see Michael's Iris profile.

Teaching