Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


About CMCB

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The Centre for Modern and Contemporary Britain (CMCB) is an open and diverse centre within the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) that is committed to critical, multi-disciplinary, comparative and transnational scholarship and public engagement around the problems and challenges faced by contemporary society. Our current research theme is: ‘The Politics of Inequality’.

The Centre seeks to build a vibrant and connected space for intellectual community and exchange that creates new synergies and productive working relationships across UCL and beyond. It enables students and scholars of modern and contemporary Britain to engage with each other’s work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the arts and sciences, theorists and practitioners, into productive conversation.

To this end, CMCB organises lectures, seminars and public events; helps to develop new and innovative research clusters; facilitates reading groups and postgraduate research (PGR) support networks; and provides resources to academics and students working across more than six UCL faculties and twenty different academic departments, institutes and centres. It also provides a gateway between UCL and the wider world for all those interested in problems relating to modern and contemporary Britain.

CMCB recognises that ‘Britain’ – formally the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – is a contested and protean political space with complex, historically constituted layers of political representation and sovereignty. Viewing the UK as a site of transnational interaction, a composite of multiple group identities, overlapping and changing over time, we resist simplistic national frameworks of analysis.

The UK’s past, present and future are embedded in the global and transnational transformations of slavery, empire, decolonisation, migration and globalisation. Transnational forces of technological, environmental, scientific, economic and cultural change continuously impact upon and shape British politics and society.

At the same time, the work of the CMCB recognises that political identities, policy, law, science, education and myriad other aspects of human existence are experienced and enacted within existing structures of political sovereignty, as well as different and competing national memory cultures, reformed and reproduced in the present.

As such, CMCB seeks to interrogate and productively reconfigure the relationship and balance between local, regional, national and global spheres of human interaction and existence, recognising that this is a key theme in contemporary political debate.