Photo of Andrew TompkinsDr Andrew Tompkins

B.A. (Chapel Hill), M.A. (Chapel Hill), M.A. (Chicago), DPhil (Oxon)

Lecturer in History

20th c. Europe (esp. France and Germany); transnational history; protest movements; borderlands

+44 (0)114 22 22616 | Jessop West 2.12

Semester Two 2018/19 Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:00-11:00 and 15:00-16:00



Andrew Tompkins joined the department in 2015 and will begin teaching in 2016. He received his DPhil in History from the University of Oxford in 2013 after previously studying History at the University of Chicago (M.A., 2008) as well as Political Science and International Studies at the University of North Carolina (M.A., 2005 and B.A., 2002). Andrew has lived and worked for extended periods in Germany, France, and Japan, and enjoyed shorter stays in Russia, Sweden, and Poland.

During the academic year 2015-2016, Andrew is completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (funded by the German Universities' Excellence Initiative). He has previously received scholarships from the DAAD, Centre Marc Bloch, Clarendon Fund, Merton College, and Berliner Abgeordnetenhaus as well as grants from the Society for the Study of French History, German History Society, and others.

Andrew's research focuses on transnational interactions within and beyond Europe after the Second World War. His first book examined Franco-German networks of anti-nuclear protest in the 1970s, and he remains broadly interested in activism, social movements, and periods of political upheaval such as 1968 and 1989. Currently, he is working on a project about the normalisation of Germany's contested borders after the Second World War. This research connects his long-standing focus on transnational, social, and spatial history with a growing interest in Eastern Europe, 'national indifference', and border zones.


Current Research

Andrew Tompkins is an historian of 20th-century Europe whose work focuses primarily on transnational interactions, practices, and spaces.

Andrew's first book, Better Active than Radioactive! Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany, will be appearing with Oxford University Press in 2016. Drawing on a broad source base that includes police reports, print and television media, protest ephemera, and more than sixty oral history interviews, it shows how grassroots protesters built up a movement that challenged the boundaries of nation, language, politics, and social class. Focusing on the movement's internal divisions as well as its transnational dimensions, the book analyses one of the largest ‘New Social Movements’ in post-war Western Europe and situates it within a decade of upheaval and protest.

Andrew's current research focuses on Germany's post-1945 borders with France and Poland, investigating how borderland residents engaged (or not) with the historically contested meanings of the Rhine River and Oder-Neisse line in their everyday lives. By examining unequal but entangled relationships in East and West together, this research will shed light on the construction of both Cold War blocs as well as the development of Europe since 1990.

Research Supervision

I am pleased to supervise postgraduates interested in transnational phenomena such as borders, migration, and minority populations (national, regional, or sexual) in Europe as well as those studying protest, revolutions, and social/political movements in Europe and the United States.

Current second supervisions:

  • Mirjam Galley - Builders of Communism, 'Defective‘ Children and Social Orphans. Soviet Children in Care after 1953.
  • Maria Vasquez-Aguilar - Exiles in Action: Political activism amongst the Chilean Refugees in the UK, 1973-2013.

All current students by supervisor | PhD study in History



Better Active than Radioactive! Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

During the 1970s, hundreds of thousands of Western Europeans protested against civil nuclear energy. Nowhere were they more visible than in France and Germany—two countries where environmentalism seems to have diverged greatly since. This book recovers the shared, transnational history of the early anti-nuclear movement, showing how low-level interactions among diverse activists led to far-reaching changes in both countries.

Nuclear energy was a multivalent symbol which generated protest that was simultaneously broad-based and highly fragmented. 'Concerned citizens' in communities near planned facilities felt that nuclear tecnology represented an outside intervention that potentially threatened their health, material existence, and way of life. In the decade after 1968, their concerns coalesced with more overtly 'political' criticisms of consumer society, the state, and militarism. Housewives, hippies, farmers, revolutionaries, and many more who defied easy categorisation joined forces to oppose nuclear power, but the movement remained internally contradictory and outwardly unpredictable—not least with regard to violence at demonstrations.

Drawing extensively on oral history interviews as well as police, media, and activist sources, this book tells the story of the people behind protest. By analysing the transnational dimensions, internal divisions, and different outcomes of anti-nuclear protest, it provides an encompassing and nuanced understanding of one of the largest 'New Social Movements' in post-war Western Europe.

Journal Articles

'Grassroots Transnationalism(s): Franco-German Opposition to Nuclear Energy in the 1970s', Contemporary European History, 25, 1 (2016), 117–42.


During the 1970s opposition to nuclear energy was present in countries around the world and thus eminently 'transnational'. But what did it mean to participate at the grassroots of a transnational movement and (how) did cross-border connections change protest? This article answers these questions by differentiating three categories of transnational engagement that were accessible to grassroots activists. 'Thinking transnationally' involved extrapolating from, decontextualising, and recontextualising limited information in order to rethink one's own situation. 'Acting transnationally' entailed accessing transnational spaces; it therefore required more mobility, but could be useful as a means of challenging and deconstructing state power. Intermediaries at the grassroots engaged in 'being transnational', which affected their personal and political identities as well as life histories. These examples of transnational agency illustrate how grassroots activists, including some without vast wealth or institutional resources, participated in transnational processes in ways that enriched, but also complicated protest.

'The Transnational in the Local: The Larzac Plateau as a Site of Transnational Activism since 1970', Journal of Contemporary History, 50, 3 (2015), 581–605. (with Robert Gildea)


This article explores the case of the Larzac plateau in southern France which was the site of protests against the extension of a military base in the 1970s. It analyses the development of the site as a focus of local, national, and transnational protest, drawing in post-1968 gauchistes in France and West Germany. After the cancellation of the military base the Larzac became a model for protest from Latin America to the Pacific against the threats of globalisation, which in turn transformed local protest. The limits of transnationalism were nevertheless demonstrated by contested understandings of the Larzac model of non-violent protest by activists from different contexts with their own agendas.

'Transnationality as a Liability? The Anti-Nuclear Movement at Malville', Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire / Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Filologie en Geschiedenis, 89, 3–4 (2010), 1365–79.


In social movement studies, transnational activism is often conceived primarily in terms of its advantages. However, transnationality can also be a complicating factor that affects protest in ambivalent or contradictory ways. This article explores in detail one infamous case where the transnational nature of protest was turned from an advantage into a liability for its protagonists. At the protest march against the nuclear power plant in Creys-Malville, France on 31 July 1977, French authorities blamed demonstrators from West Germany for violence that left one innocent protester dead and three people seriously wounded. By situating this protest in a transnational chronology of French and German anti-nuclear protests, this article shows how events in West Germany did have an important effect on those in France, but also how transnationality was conflated with more fundamental problems related to the local protest mobilisation.


Timothy Scott Brown, West Germany and the Global Sixties in German History, Vol. 32, No. 3 (2014), pp. 507-509


Report on 'Phantomgrenzen in Ostmitteleuropa: Zwischenbilanz eines neuen Forschungskonzeptes' conference, 17–19 February 2014, Berlin, H-Soz-Kult (2014)



 Module Leader

HST2504: Two Germanys, 'One People'? Central Europe, 1945-1990

In 1989-90, German 'reunification' brought together populations changed by 40 years of different lived experiences, within borders that had not bounded any previous German state. This module examines the social, political, and cultural history of East and West Germany in comparative perspective, focusing on how they related to one another as well as to pre-1945 German history. Special emphasis is placed on relationships with European neighbours, allied superpowers, and migrant populations in order to show how contemporary Germany has been shaped by transnational processes and how non-Germans have likewise helped define what it now means to be 'German'.


HST3162/3163: Protest and Democracy in Postwar Europe

This module explores the history of protest since 1945 within and beyond Europe, with a view to understanding social movements and how they seek to effect political change. Protest research in history and the social sciences has focused on widely varied actors, forms, traditions, and issues, leading to very different conclusions about why and how protest occurs. This module emphasises the merits and limits of particular approaches for answering different historiographic questions such as those about long-term continuities between movements, the synchronisation (or not) of protest across borders, and why protest activity appears to rise and fall dramatically. The module examines movements from the 1950s to the early 2000s, focusing in particular on pacifism, student protest, feminism, 'New Social Movements', international solidarity, and globalisation.


HST6801: Research Skills for Historians

This module introduces the generic research skills necessary for independent investigation and further study in History. There are sessions on library collections; historical evidence; different primary sources; ITC skills (database management, the use of web-based resources, advanced bibliographical management tools); theory and narrative.


Public Engagement

Public Engagement

To follow.

In The Media

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Administrative Duties

Current Administrative Duties

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Previous Administrative Duties

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