Funded Research Projects

The Department of History at the University of Sheffield has a successful track-record of securing external funding for major research projects. Academic staff have obtained major grants from British funding bodies such as the British Academy, AHRC, ESRC and JISC, but also from continental European funding bodies such as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The topics and structures of these projects reflect the highly diverse research culture in the department. They range from major collaborative projects on aspects of British History and research networks with international partners to projects by individual staff members.

The Department of History has particular expertise in the Digital Humanities. Academic staff members in the department have worked on a number of key research projects that use digital technologies and online facilities. Through the use of web-based technologies, these projects offer access to online databases and facilitate data-mining. They have also changed the ways in which texts and databases can be searched and analysed, and how different types of information can be cross-referenced and linked. These projects are conducted in collaboration with the Humanities Research Institute, which functions as a national reference centre in the Digital Humanities.


Current Funded Research Projects

Colonising Disability: race, impairment and otherness in the British Empire, c. 1800-1914

Member - Esme Cleall

This AHRC-funded project is about disability in the British Empire, 1800-1914. Whilst it is impossible to calculate the exact numbers of disabled people in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, taken as a proportion of the overall population, there were many more disabled people in Britain in the past than there are today. Illnesses causing deafness and/or blindness (such as scarlet fever; mumps; chicken pox; influenza; measles; meningitis; and rubella) were prolific and there were high rates of industrial and agricultural accidents which were physically disabling. Furthermore, what today might be considered a moderate or 'correctable' hearing or sight loss, had profound implications as sensory-enhancing technology was of poor quality and often prohibitively expensive. As literary critics have demonstrated, disabled people populate British culture. Yet disability has been ignored by the vast majority of historians.

This project seeks to readdress this balance. In doing so, Esme asks:

  • How was disability represented, treated and experience in the British Empire?
  • And how did disability frame understandings of the body more widely?

There are good reasons to suggest that thinking about attitudes towards disability alongside the attitudes towards race will be particularly useful. 'Race' and 'disability' are both ways of thinking about perceived bodily ‘otherness’. In the nineteenth century, pseudo-scientific racism sought to define and categorize people by measuring and codifying bodily diversity. Images of 'suffering' colonial others were used to justify their colonialisation. Eugenics saw 'impairment' and degeneracy in both race and disability. Scientists argued over whether Down’s Syndrome ('Mongolianism') was a race or an impairment. My previous work on deafness has demonstrated that these discourses interacted with those of 'benevolence’ which, in constructing colonial 'others' and disabled people as a '(healthy) white man's burden', created long-standing relationships of dependence. Esme now wants to investigate whether the same is true of disability more generally.

As such Esme will ask:

  • How did disability and race intersect in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?
  • How were the lives of disabled people informed by the wider colonial context?
  • What part did disabled people and colonised others play in the way some bodies are seen as more 'normal' than others?

The project is based on archival research, a close reading of published writings and textual analysis..

Everyday Politics, Ordinary Lives: Democratic Engagement in Britain, 1918-1992

Principal Investigator - Adrian Bingham

2017 - 2018

This project investigates how British citizens understood politics and how they viewed its relationship to their lives, from 1918 to 1992. It focuses on the everyday political opinions, discussions and interactions of ordinary British people in the period from the establishment of a near democracy with the Representation of the People Act 1918 (which gave the vote to all adult men and most women over 30) up until the transformation of British political culture with the emergence of 24-hour news channels and the internet in the early 1990s.

What sorts of issues were regarded as being 'political'? Did they seem important? How and when were they discussed? What sort of expectations did people have of politicians and the political system? The research will pay particular attention to the ways in which women and young people related to a political system dominated by middle-aged men.

Protest as democratic practice: peace movements in southern Europe, 1975-1990

Principal Investigator - Eirini Karamouzi

2017 - 2019

Principal Investigator of the two-year project (2017-2019), 'Protest as democratic practice: peace movements in southern Europe, 1975-1990' (Max Batley Fellowship Awards scheme).

Religious Violence in the Spanish Civil War: Iconoclasm and Crusade

Principal Investigator - Mary Vincent

1 September 2017 - 31 August 2019

The Spanish Civil War starkly revealed the patterns of assault and retribution that define religious violence. An anticlerical revolution took place within a conflict regarded by the other side as a crusade. More priests were killed than in the French Revolution and the scale of iconoclasm is still unquantified. Churches and images—seen as a locus of divine power—came under attack; retributive violence followed this assault on God.

The case of Spain is well documented and shows that modern religious conflict is not specific to jihad. It also provides an important counterpoint to work on non-European 'communal' violence.

This project featured in the Leverhulme Trust's January 2017 newsletter.

The Global Citizen, c.1200-c.1600

Principal Investigator - Martial Staub

1 September 2016 - 31 August 2017

Martial has been invited to join the Kulturwissenschaftliches Kolleg/Institute for Advanced Study that was set up at the University of Konstanz with funding from the Exzellenzinitiative of the German federal government. He will serve as a fellow for one year, from 1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017, and carry on his research free of teaching duties and in an international setting.

The main output of this research is a monograph on 'The Global Citizen, c.1200-c.1600'. This monograph is centred on late medieval and Renaissance Europe. It aims to show how citizenship, broadly understood as participation in the political life of local communities, contributed to creating ideas and practices with an extra-European scope and how this outlook eventually shaped our understanding of 'globalisation' and ultimately this phenomenon itself.

The monograph is based on three case-studies exemplifying how 'global' citizenship was in theory and practice. Starting with Genoa between 1150 and 1250, it explores both the spread of the city’s influence in the eastern Mediterranean trade and the background against which Pope Innocent IV, of the Genoese family of the Fieschi, came to define natural law as applying to all human beings, including so-called "infidels", thus laying the ground for a very influential tradition in natural law theory. The monograph then focuses on Nuremberg and Augsburg as examples of cities whose commercial, financial, political and intellectual role in European expansion into the Atlantic in the 15th and 16th century cannot be overestimated.

This 'global' outlook will be shown to have informed the early, 'communitarian' stage of the Reformation and, beyond, have shaped modern civil society in Protestant countries and beyond. Finally, the monograph turns to Antwerp in the late 16th century as a centre of global commerce and Humanism, but also a place where federalism as it would first be applied in the Northern Provinces of the Low Countries was defined. In order to understand the dynamics of the relationship between citizenship and 'globalisation', this book ultimately proposes to shift the focus of their history away from the nation-state. It also presupposes a reassessment of the relationship between theory and practice towards an open, dialectic understanding of their interactions. The historiographical dimension of these re-evaluations will be addressed in its own right in a series of articles.


The Greek Diaspora Project (National Bank of Greece)

Co-investigator - Eirini Karamouzi

This seeks to explore the relationship between Greece and its diaspora in the current context of economic crisis and beyond.


The Official History of the European Commission (HISTCOM3) - Enlargement Policy

Member - Eirini Karamouzi

A member of the EU-funded consortium on the Official History of the European Commission (HISTCOM3) that starts works on Oct 2015 for three years, coordinated at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, I am responsible for the sub-project on . The project involves an extensive oral history component.

The Price of the People: Credit, Money, and Power in Early America

Member - Simon Middleton

This project investigates the relationship between credit and money and how it changed during the colonial period. Credit and money, rather than the reverse, because my story concerns the shift from an economy in which money was identified with abstract accounting to one in which it became increasingly synonymous with currency, in particular public paper credit, and was thereby re-conceived as primarily a medium of exchange. Historians have long debated how early America acquired its capitalist character, but surprisingly few have considered changes in monetary culture and practice. I focus on New York and Pennsylvania because their ethno-religious pluralism, contentious politics, and mixed urban and rural economies best represented the diversity of colonial society and the character of the emerging nation. This project provides an accessible account of this development, enhancing our understanding of the historical context for contemporary debates concerning money and its relationship to citizenship, government, and society.


Completed Funded Research Projects

Data Mining with Criminal Intent: Using Zotero and TAPoR on the Old Bailey Proceedings

Project Team Member - Robert Shoemaker

This project illustrates how the tools of digital humanities can be used to wrest new knowledge from one of the largest humanities data sets currently available: the Old Bailey Online.

project website

Hegemony and Power


Historicising 'historical child sexual abuse' cases: social, political and criminal justice contexts

Co-investigator - Adrian Bingham


This project worked to map and analyse social, legal and political responses to child sexual abuse across the twentieth century in order to provide vital missing knowledge to inform current high profile enquiries into the prevalence of historical abuse.

Veiled voyagers: Muslim women travellers from Asia and the Middle East

Principal Investigators - Siobhan Lambert-HurleySunil Sharma (Boston University) and Daniel Majchrowicz (Northwestern University)


This project recovers, translates, annotates and analyses Muslim women's travel writings originally produced in Persian, Urdu, Turkish and other languages from the seventeenth century up to circa 1950. In doing so, it historicises more recent Muslim travel-writing that has proliferated over the past half-century within a longer literary tradition. The rare sources are also used to draw out the gendered relationships between travel and Muslim identities, nationalism, and the shaping of global power.

The project thus makes an important intervention into the study of world and women's history, Islamic studies, and travel literature. Its final outputs will include an annotated book edition, as well as an online repository of Muslim women’s travel texts in both the original and translation.

More information is available on the Leverhulme website - Veiled voyagers: Muslim women travellers from Asia and the Middle East.