Dr Simon Stevens
B.A., M.Phil. (Cambridge), Ph.D. (Columbia)
Department of History
Lecturer in International History
+44 114 222 2618
Full contact details
Department of History
1 Upper Hanover Street
I am a historian of international and transnational relations in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the history of South Africa and on South Africa’s relations with the United States, Britain, and the rest of the world.
I am currently working on my first book, Laying Siege to South Africa, an international history of the development and deployment of boycotts and sanctions in the struggle against apartheid, from the early twentieth century until the 1970s.
I have also recently published articles stemming from a separate project on the ‘turn to violence’ by South African opponents of apartheid in the 1960s.
I teach modules on international order in the twentieth century, decolonisation, and modern South Africa. I also supervise BA and MA dissertations on a wide range of topics in African, American, British, and international history.
I joined the Department of History at Sheffield in 2016, having completed my Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York, and my undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Sheffield, I held pre-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University, New York University, and the University of Virginia, and post-doctoral fellowships at the European University Institute in Florence and St John’s College, Cambridge.
- Research interests
My research focuses on opposition to segregation and apartheid in South Africa, both from within South Africa itself, and in the United States, Britain, and the rest of the world.
My current book project, Laying Siege to South Africa, is an international history of the development and deployment of various kinds of boycotts and sanctions by the global anti-apartheid movement, from the early twentieth century until the 1970s. The project is based on research in more than 80 archival repositories in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, the United States, Britain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
My manuscript-in-progress analyses how and why opponents of South Africa’s racial order chose to campaign for various kinds of boycotts and sanctions - including consumer boycotts, workers’ boycotts, sports and cultural boycotts, divestment and disinvestment, and governmental trade, financial, and diplomatic sanctions. The book explores what the consequences of those choices were, both for apartheid and the struggle against it, and for global politics.
Stemming from a separate project, my most recent publications are a pair of articles that analyse the ‘turn to violence’ by the African National Congress and its allies in South Africa in the 1960s. The first article, published in Past & Present, analyses why that ‘turn’ initially took the form of non-lethal symbolic sabotage (primarily bombings of empty government buildings and other installations associated with the implementation of apartheid). The second article, published in the Journal of Southern African Studies, analyses the process by which the Congress movement subsequently came to focus on rural guerrilla warfare as a free-standing and sufficient first step towards ‘all-out war’ and the armed seizure of power.
- Violence, Political Strategy and the Turn to Guerrilla Warfare by the Congress Movement in South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies, 47(6), 1011-1028. View this article in WRRO
- The Turn to Sabotage by The Congress Movement in South Africa. Past & Present, 245(1), 221-255. View this article in WRRO
- The External Struggle against Apartheid: New Perspectives. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, 7(2), 295-314. View this article in WRRO
- “From the Viewpoint of a Southern Governor”: The Carter Administration and Apartheid, 1977-81. Diplomatic History, 36(5), 843-880. View this article in WRRO
- 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.
- 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). University of Pennsylvania Press
- Warum Südafrika? Die Politik des britischen Anti-Apartheid-Aktivismus in den langen 1970er Jahren In Eckel J & Moyn S (Ed.), Moral für die Welt? Menschenrechtspolitik in den 1970er Jahren (pp. 316-342). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
- Non-Alignment and the United States [review of Kennedy, Johnson, and the Nonaligned World by Robert B. Rakove]. H-1960s H-Net Reviews.
- A Grand Design. Diplomatic History, 36(5), 797-800. View this article in WRRO
- Research group
I am happy to supervise students interested in modern international history, in particular those with interests in decolonisation, international order, transnational activism, South Africa, Africa and the world, Britain and the world, and the United States and the world.
- Teaching activities
Undergraduate (module leader):
- HST2514 - Decolonisation: The End of Empire & the Future of the World
- HST31037 - Resistance & Liberation in South Africa: Gandhi to Mandela
Undergraduate (team-taught modules):
- HST117 - The Making of the Twentieth Century
- HST202 - Historians and 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
Undergraduate and MA research supervision:
- HST398 - Dissertation (short) and HST399 - Dissertation (long)
- HST6560 - Dissertation in History
I supervise BA and MA dissertations on a wide range of topics in African, American, British, and international history.
- Professional activities and memberships
- American Historical Association (member)
- African Studies Association (member)
- African Studies Association (UK) (member)
- Britain and the World (member)
- Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) (member)
- Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) (member)
- Higher Education Academy (fellow)
I have served as a peer reviewer for the National Research Foundation of South Africa, and for journals including Diplomatic History, Historical Journal, Journal of American Studies, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Safundi: the Journal of South African and American Studies, South African Historical Journal, and Twentieth Century British History.