Dr Simon Stevens

B.A., M.Phil. (Cambridge), Ph.D. (Columbia)

Department of History

Lecturer in International History

Ethics, Library and Open Access Officer

+44 114 222 2618

Full contact details

Dr Simon Stevens
Department of History
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I joined the Department as a Lecturer in International History in 2016. Previously I was a Research Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and a Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. I completed my Ph.D. in International and Global History at Columbia University in New York in 2016, and during my postgraduate studies held fellowships at New York University and the University of Virginia.

My research and teaching interests lie in twentieth-century global, international, and transnational history, with a particular focus on transnational mobilisations, political and labour movements, decolonisation, and the histories of Africa, Britain, and the United States in the world. I’m interested in the history of internationalism, and in the strategies and tactics historical actors – especially those from the global south – have adopted in their efforts to bring about political change. I am currently writing my first monograph, an international history of the use of boycotts and sanctions by the global anti-apartheid movement.

  • BA Hons (Cambridge), History (2006)
  • M.Phil. (Cambridge), Historical Studies (2008)
  • Ph.D. (Columbia), History (2016)
Research interests

My current research focuses on the struggle against South African apartheid, both within South Africa and around the world. My most recent article, published in Past & Present,  focused on the 'turn to violence' by the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa in the early 1960s. I also have research interests in pan-Africanism (especially the All-African People’s Conference, held in Accra, Ghana, in 1958), and in the idea of the ‘non-aligned movement’ in the 1960s.

I am currently writing my first monograph, an international history of the use of boycotts and sanctions by the global anti-apartheid movement, which is provisionally entitled Laying Siege to South Africa: Anti-Apartheid Boycotts and Sanctions, and the Transformation of Global Politics.

Since the adoption of boycott as a defining feature of the global movement against apartheid, diverse political actors have drawn upon the anti-apartheid movement’s use of boycotts as a model. This project explores how and why various kinds of boycotts and sanctions came to be seen as such central elements of the struggle against apartheid. Drawing on multi-archival research in more than eighty archival repositories in eight countries, the project traces the battles over boycotts and sanctions against South Africa as they raged from guerrilla camps to grocery stores , from the chambers of the United Nations to trade union picket lines, and from corporate boardrooms to cricket fields.


Journal articles


  • Stevens SM (2015) Bloke Modisane in East Germany In Slobodian Q (Ed.), Comrades of Color: East Germany in the Cold War World (pp. 121-130). New York: Berghahn. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stevens S (2014) Chapter 12. Why South Africa? The Politics of Anti-Apartheid Activism in Britain in the Long 1970s, The Breakthrough (pp. 204-225). University of Pennsylvania Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stevens S (2014) Why South Africa? The Politics of Anti-Apartheid Activism in Britain in the Long 1970s In Eckel J & Moyn S (Ed.), The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s (pp. 204-225). Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

  • Stevens S (2014) Non-Alignment and the United States [review of Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World by Robert B. Rakove]. H-1960s H-Net Reviews. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Stevens S (2012) A Grand Design. Diplomatic History, 36(5), 797-800. RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Research supervision

I am happy to supervise students interested in twentieth-century international or (South) African history, in particular those with interests in transnational mobilisations and movements, internationalism, , Africa and the world, British and/or American foreign relations, decolonisation, and political violence.


Find out more about PhD study in History

  • Research Fellowship, St John’s College, University of Cambridge (2016-17)
  • Max Weber Fellowship, European University Institute (2015-16)
  • National Fellowship, Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia (2014-15)
  • Josephine De Karman Fellowship (2014-15)
  • Center for the United States and the Cold War Fellowship, New York University (2013)
  • Research Exchange Fellowship, London School of Economics (2011-12)
  • Joseph Hodges Choate Memorial Fellowship, Harvard University (2006-07)
Teaching activities

Undergraduate (module leader):

  • HST2514 - Decolonisation: The End of Empire & the Future of the World
  • HST3178/79 - Resistance & Liberation in South Africa: Gandhi to Mandela

Undergraduate (team-taught modules):

  • HST117 - The Making of the Twentieth Century
  • HST202 - Historians and History

Undergraduate (research supervision):

  • HST209 - Writing History
  • HST398 - Dissertation (short) and HST399 - Dissertation (long)

I have supervised 29 BA dissertations, and co-supervised another 12, on topics in South African, British, American, and international history

Postgraduate (module leader):

  • HST6076 - International Order in the Twentieth Century

Postgraduate (team-taught modules): 

  • HST6603 - Modernity and Power: Individuals and the State in the Modern World
  • HST6606 - The World in Connection: Themes in Global History

Postgraduate (MA research supervision):

  • HST6560 - Dissertation

I have supervised 6 MA dissertations, and co-supervised another 7, on topics in African, British, American, and international history

Professional activities

Administrative roles:

I will be the convenor for Level 3 dissertations and Level 2 ‘Writing History’ assignments in Semester 2 of the 2020-21 academic year.

I am a member of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC). I previously served as the Research Ethics Officer for the Department of History (2018-20), in which role I undertook a major review of ethics procedures and guidance in the Department. I also served as a member of the Department of History's Research Committee (2018-20).

I am a member of several ad hoc working parties whose work is ongoing, including the University’s Academic Workload Working Group, the Faculty of Arts & Humanities Workload Working Group, and the Department of History’s Workload Allocation Working Party. In 2018 I also served as a member of the Department of History’s Race, Equality, and Decolonisation (RED) Working Party.

I previously  served as the Level Tutor for undergraduate students at Level 3 (2017-19) and continue to serve as a Personal Tutor.

I have been a member of the branch committee of Sheffield UCU since 2018, and am currently the committee’s Policy and Governance Officer. I also serve as one of the committee's 'co-leads' on the Research Excellence Framework (REF).