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Call for Papers: Questioning Decline, Britain and the World after 1945

Thursday 3 March 2016


The Mile End Institute, in association with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will host a conference which interrogates the concept of “decline” in post-war Britain. The call for papers is now open to post-graduate students.

The conference will take place at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 11 April 2016 and will include a keynote by Professor David Reynolds.

Every student of post-war Britain is familiar with the idea of “decline”.

It is a concept that has been used to describe and analyse a variety of aspects of British history, including decolonisation, diminishing diplomatic and military influence, gradual erosion of cultural and industrial exports, and a stagnating domestic economy plagued by industrial dispute and heavy debt.

The notion of “decline” is so commonplace in twentieth-century British historiography that it seems reasonable to ask: can historians even talk about Britain in this period without producing a narrative of “decline”?

The conference aims to provoke debate about our understanding of what happened in British political, cultural and economic life after 1945, and in doing so raise broader questions about the advantages and limitations of describing Britain as a nation in decline.

Postgraduate students interested in presenting a paper should send an abstract of no more than 250 words to James Southern and Lindsay Aqui by no later than 12 February 2016.

Topics for papers could include, but are by no means limited to:
• Historiography of “decline”;
• Histories of British political institutions;
• Britain and its relationship with the world;
• Britain in Europe;
• The so-called “special relationship”;
• British diplomatic and military intervention;
• Exporting British culture;
• Britain and the developing world and emerging markets;
• Decolonisation and loss of Empire;
• Commonwealth and postcolonial politics.

We hope to be able to provide modest travel and accommodation bursaries for our speakers. More information will follow after the call for papers has closed.

For those interested in attending the conference, details will be made available after the call for papers has closed.

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