Research by Thematic Hubs

Click on the thematic research hubs below for more details.

Body and Mind

The main research themes of the body & mind hub seek to put human bodies and minds into geographical, political, social and historical context. It is a broad space for reflection on what we mean by 'the body' or 'the mind' and how these meanings, capacities and symbolisms have changed over time. One theme is the notion and meaning of 'disability' and how it intersects with other kinds of identity and in various contexts. Another hub theme focuses upon the emotions and their history: from generalised ideas of 'emotional distress' to specific ideas of 'emotional honesty'. The hub also has a research strength looking at suicide and its social context. Disease categories, concepts of intoxication, the practice of science also come under the aegis of the body & mind hub.

Migration and Identity

The migration and identity hub is a platform of collaboration between staff of the Department working on migration and migration-related questions. It is involved in cooperation across the University, in particular with the Migration Research Group, and plans research activities with colleagues outside Sheffield.

Migration is a constant of human history across the globe. As such, it has attracted the attention of disciplines in the Humanities, Social Sciences and, increasingly too, Natural Sciences. While the policy implications of migration as a universal phenomenon have constituted a challenge to scholars working on the topic, the recent advances in human genetic and paleogenetic require an increased engagement of the Humanities and Social Sciences with the Natural Sciences and vice-versa.

Our specific interest in migration and contribution to research into it is twofold. We aim (i) to document, explain and understand past migration whilst (ii) being attentive to the influence of migration, its diversity and its change on making history. Our areas of expertise reach from ancient history to contemporary history, encompass European, Asian, African and American history and include history of the Humanities and epistemology.

Political Engagement

The Political Engagement hub connects Sheffield historians working on diverse places and periods who share an interest in the relationship between people and power. We define the 'political' broadly by exploring engagement through both formal and informal mechanisms: our members' interests range from battles over access to the ballot to the moral economy of the crowd. Staff and students in the hub work on Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and their chronological specialisations stretch from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century. We see the wide array of interests as an opportunity for opening fruitful comparative discussion about the ways in which power is produced, contested, and deployed.


The Slavery Research Hub brings together researchers working on slavery and unfreedom across multiple historical contexts and periods. Our aim is to provide a venue for our members to share their ongoing research, as well as to facilitate dialogue between different historiographical and methodological approaches to the study of slavery. We currently run a reading group for those interested in the histories of slavery.

Transmission of Ideas

The 'Transmission of Ideas' research hub provides a forum for colleagues to discuss a number of themes and approaches relating to ways, forms and modes whereby ideas and arguments were conveyed, disseminated and implemented at multiple levels of culture, society and government across a wide chronological range from classical civilization to the late twentieth century, in Europe and Asia.