Rethinking Britain in the 1990s: deadline 4 June 2021

Date / time: 17 September, All day

Rethinking Britain in the 1990s: deadline 4 June 2021


A One-Day Research Symposium

Provisional date: 17 September 2021 St John’s College, University of Cambridge

Building on the success of the Rethinking Britain in the 1990s virtual workshop series (, papers are sought for a one-day research symposium showcasing new scholarship on any aspect of British history in the 1990s. The symposium will provide an opportunity for high-level discussion of short pre-circulated papers (c. 2500-3500 words), a selection of which will be taken forward for potential publication in a field-defining special issue (target journal: Contemporary British History).

As revealed by the wide-ranging discussions facilitated at the virtual workshops, historians have already begun to produce empirically rich, carefully contextualised accounts of the 1990s which have the potential to transform our understanding of late twentieth-century Britain. This work builds upon the innovative scholarship on the 1970s and 1980s which has enlivened the field in recent years, overturning familiar meta-narratives and placing new subjects and conceptual framings centre-stage. The proposed symposium will create a space in which historians can share their research, explore new methods and sources, and shape the emerging historiography on the 1990s.

We welcome papers from colleagues at all career stages which seek to engage with key analytical categories for making sense of continuity and change across the 1990s. These might include (but are not limited to): deindustrialisation, neoliberalism, globalisation, individualisation and post-imperialism. We also welcome papers which set British trends in a global or transnational framework, and/or are methodologically pioneering, especially in the use of ‘born digital’ sources. In thematic terms, papers might address one or more of the following:

  • Electoral politics, devolution and non-governmental activism
  • Race and multiculturalism
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Class and inequality
  • Youth culture
  • Religion
  • National identity
  • Urban and rural change
  • Mobility and migration
  • Foreign affairs, including the end of the Cold War and policy towards Europe
  • The impact of new technologies, including personal computers, mobile phones and the Internet
  • Leisure, sport and popular culture
  • Memory and nostalgia in the framing of the 1990s as a decade

Please send an abstract (up to 500 words) plus a one-page academic CV to the organisers, Dr Helen McCarthy ( and Dr David Geiringer ( by 4 June. Notification of accepted proposals will be by 18 June. Papers should be submitted for pre-circulation by 10 September.

Should Covid-related restrictions allow, we plan to bring 12-15 scholars together for a small, in-person gathering in Cambridge on 17th September, with virtual participation for those unable to travel. If meeting face-to-face proves impossible or inadvisable, we will move to a fully virtual format.We should be able to cover travel expenses within the UK (economy train-fare or equivalent) and, for those who need it, one night’s accommodation in a college guest room (it may be possible to book a second night at your own expense). Please indicate on your submission whether you are, in principle, willing to travel to Cambridge and any accommodation needs.