Hello and welcome to the site for the Four Nations History Network! The decision to set up this network sprung from a desire to connect with our fellow researchers and explore the extent to which others were carrying out ‘British’ or ‘United Kingdom’ history. As PhD students, we know that the research process can be somewhat isolating. And, although there are thriving communities of Irish historians in particular, and initiatives to link up Irish and Scottish researchers, we found that we still needed a network for all of us.
The pioneering work done by proponents of the ‘New British History’, who in the 1990s argued that given events and episodes must be placed in their ‘British’ context, provoked debate on the different ways in which we can study history. However, this style of study remained focused on the early modern period and there were precious few modernists who took up the call for a ‘new subject’. Two decades on, the debate has gone somewhat quiet.
We think that, with a referendum on the constitutional future of the United Kingdom fast approaching, this is the perfect time to reignite that debate. How should we approach what happened in the past? How should we seek to reconstruct that past and access contemporary opinion? The ‘New British History’ concentrated overwhelmingly on constitutional and political history; we are likewise interested in these histories but want to hear about research on religion, culture, identity, society and gender, to name but a few possible avenues of scholarship.
We hope that by coming together as historians, we will be able to build the most comprehensive picture of British and United Kingdom history possible.
So please join us and get blogging for us!