Dr Michael Collins is Associate Professor of Modern and Contemporary British History. He joined UCL History as a probationary lecturer in 2007 and was awarded his PhD in History by the University of Oxford in 2009. He became a permanent member of UCL History staff in 2010 and was promoted to associate professor in 2016. He previously studied the history of political thought at Cambridge University and politics at the London School of Economics.
In addition to his role in the Department of History, Michael is Vice Dean for Advancement in the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences. In this capacity, he works with faculty colleagues on strategic planning for matters such as alumni relations, external engagement, philanthropic donations and equalities, diversity and inclusion. He is also the founder and director of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Britain (CMCB) within UCL’s Institute of Advanced Study (IAS). Externally, he is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club’s Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion committee. In June 2021, Michael was appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the Butts Commission, an ECB-funded commission into equity in cricket, focusing on inclusion and exclusion in terms of race, class and gender. The Commission will report in the summer of 2022.
Dr Collins is a historian of modern and contemporary Britain, primarily focusing on the period 1940-present. He currently has two main research themes:
- The historical development of political ideas in post-war Britain. This work focuses on how ideas are formed and deployed by ‘elites’ to respond to specific problems and challenges, for example the decolonisation of the British Empire, Britain’s late-1950s orientation towards European political and economic integration, and the rise of identity politics within the United Kingdom.
- The social and cultural history of migration and settlement in post-war Britain. This research focuses more on the lived experience of migrants and settlers but connects to the ways in which these processes have challenged metropolitan racism and historically racialised understandings of national identity, thereby reconfiguring the meanings of Britishness and Englishness.
Dr Collins is currently pursuing a project on the history of ‘Windrush Cricket’, which integrates these two research themes. The project looks at the way in which cricket formed an integral part of the Windrush generation’s efforts to settle and build communities in English cities after 1948. It also considers the way in which the English cricket ‘establishment’ reacted to the presence of black cricketers, including the children of Windrush migrants from the 1970s onwards, and what this can tell us about the cultural politics of Englishness.
You can learn more about this project here.
Selected recent publications
- ‘Cricket, Englishness and Racial Thinking’, The Political Quarterly, Dec. (2021)
- ‘Imagining Worlds beyond the Nation-state’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 40/3 (2020), pp. 601–606
- '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), pp. 17-42
- 'Decolonization', in J. Mackenzie (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Empire: Volume 2 (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016), pp. 1-15
- Empire, Nationalism and the Postcolonial World London: Routledge, 2015
- '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), pp. 101-144
- 'Decolonization and the "Federal Moment"', Diplomacy and Statecraft 24/1, (2013), pp. 21-40
- ‘Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Friendship’, South Asia: The Journal of South Asian Studies 35/1 (2012), pp. 118-142
For a full list of publications, see Michael's Iris profile.
Dr Collins welcomes applications from students wishing to study for a PhD connected to the history of political ideas, the end of empire, immigration and identity in Britain after 1945. Please note, before making an application and listing me as your prospective supervisor, you must contact me directly to discuss the viability of your PhD project and my ability and suitability to supervise you.
Currently supervising: Saffron East, 'The Indian Workers' Association, the Southall Black Sisters and "black" politics in 1970s Britain' and Sameema Rahman, 'The Figure of the Refugee in 1970s Britain'.
Recently completed: 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 decolonization, 1964-1970’; Kevin Guyan, ‘Masculinities, planning knowledge and domestic space in Britain, c.1941-1961’; Jack Taylor, ‘The Attlee Government and the collapse of British Power in Iran, 1945-1951’; Hana Qugana, ‘The cultural politics of Englishness: John Gordon Hargrave, the Kibbo Kift and Social Credit, 1920-1939’.
UG and PGT courses
- British History, 1850-1997 (UG Survey)
- National Identity in Britain Since 1940 (UG Research Seminar)
- Thinking Postcolonially: Race and Empire in Britain, 1900-1945 (UG Advanced Seminar)
- Empire and its Afterlives in Britain Since 1940 (PG elective seminar)