RHS News

Royal Historical Society Prize Winners, 2023

The Royal Historical Society is pleased to announce the winners of its Gladstone and Whitfield book prizes, and the Alexander article prize, for 2023.

RHS Gladstone Prize, 2023

Awarded to a first book in the field of European or World History.



Jennifer Keating, On Arid Ground: Political Ecologies of Empire in Russian Central Asia 

(Oxford University Press)




Judges’ citation

Jennifer Keating’s On Arid Ground is a path-breaking study of the way empire and environment interacted in Central Asia through the 19th and early 20th centuries.

This book innovates on a number of fronts, not least by showing the importance of ecology and environment in forcing the Russian Empire to adapt its long-term geopolitical strategy. It significantly changes the way we think of Russian Empire-building and outlines a fascinating picture of land reclamation, settlement and commodity development, while often putting to the fore actors beyond the human, from sandstorms to termites.

Inspiring and important, it will be influential for historians working on other imperial contexts, and above all for our thinking about environment and human social and political organisation today.


RHS Whitfield Prize, 2023

Awarded to a first book in the field of British or Irish History.



Síobhra Aiken, Spiritual Wounds. Trauma, Testimony & the Irish Civil War

(Irish Academic Press)




Judges’ citation

Síobhra Aiken’s Spiritual Wounds offers a fascinating approach to understanding testimonies of the Irish Civil War, revealing through a range of sources what has remained ‘hidden in plain sight’. It challenges the prevailing idea of an enduring silence about the conflict which has sought to forget in order to repair rather than to remember in order to bear witness and grieve.

Through works of autobiography, memoir and fiction in a variety of forms, Aiken explores the manner in which the terrible experiences of war were placed into the public domain by pro- and anti-Treaty men and women, and thus became part of the cultural milieu in the decades that followed.

The book shows how the code of silence around the Irish Civil War was culturally constructed, and it adopts and historicises the framework of ‘trauma’ for its study, offering a model for others to follow. Aiken’s afterword presents fascinating comments on the researcher’s own subjectivity, and the challenges of writing about topics which ‘defy straightforward empathic identification’. It is a powerful contribution to our understanding of the legacy of war, and of historical practice and the role of the historian.


RHS Alexander Prize 2023, joint winners

Awarded for an article by an early career historian writing, or within two years of completing, a History PhD.


Jake Dyble, ‘General Average, Human Jettison, and the Status of Slaves in Early Modern Europe’, Historical Journal, 65 (2022), 1197-1220


Judges’ citation

Jake Dyble tackles a major question regarding the history of the Transatlantic slave trade: how different was this trade to earlier types of enslavement? This is not only a problem for historians but a key issue in modern political debates—particularly with regard to restorative justice.

Dyble uses an ingenious method to uncover a clear answer to the conundrum. He uses legal cases regarding the jettison of cargo, including living animals or people, to determine that there was a significant shift in attitude towards the enslaved. The panel were impressed with the use of legal history but also the way in which the author was able to make a difficult technical topic comprehensible to non-specialists.


Roseanna Webster, ‘Women and the Fight for Urban Change in Late Francoist Spain’, Past & Present (October 2022)


Judges’ citation

Roseanna Webster’s work on Francoist Spain is a classic account of history from below. She focuses on female activists in new housing estates whose concerns were to gain the necessities of life, such as a regular supply of running water. Webster’s use of oral histories shows how the role of activist jarred with traditional gender roles, and how this caused the women themselves some unease.

Webster’s unusual choice of subject matter and her careful handling of her source material has produced a nuanced account of life under Franco, which focuses not on soldiers or dissidents but on ordinary women and their ambivalence about their new roles.




Five research projects receive Transactions Workshop Grants

Following its latest call for applications, the Society is very pleased to announce that five research projects will receive funding as part of its Transactions Workshop Grant programme. The grants, of £1000 per project, enable historians to meet to discuss shared research, leading to a publication in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Publications from Workshops may take the form of roundtables, short comment pieces, research articles or special sections in the journal.

The five projects awarded Transactions Workshop Grants in June 2023 are:

  • ‘The Myth of Barter. Perspectives from the Global Middle Ages’ — lead organiser: Nick Evans (Leeds)
  • ‘Labour Pains: Mothers and Motherhood on the Left in the Twentieth Century’ — lead organisers: Lyndsey Jenkins (Queen Mary, University of London) and Charlotte Riley (Southampton)
  • ‘Unofficial Diplomats: East Mediterranean Archaeologists and Britain’s Imperial Project’ — lead organiser: Anna Kelley (St Andrews)
  • ‘Game Studies and History’ — lead organiser: Gavin Schwartz-Leeper (Warwick)
  • ‘Collective Reflections on Oral Histories of Pakistan’s Women Constitution Makers’ — lead organisers: Mahnaz Shujrah and Maryam S. Khan (Institute of Development and Economic Solutions, Lahore)

Workshops for each project will take place in 2023, with publications in Transactions to follow from 2024.

Commenting on the latest round of workshop grants, Harshan Kumarasingham and Kate Smith, co-editors of Transactions, said:

We thrilled that after the success of the first Transactions Workshop scheme, this latest call achieved an equal amount of interest. We see the workshop call becoming a fixture each year, to support scholars in developing collaborations and publications. We are delighted with the rigour, curiosity and innovation of the 2023 proposals and are looking forward to seeing how the successful projects develop.

Since the programme’s creation in late 2022, nine projects have received funding. Recipients from the previous round are:

  • ’80 Years of the Bengal Famine (1943): Decolonial Dialogues from the Global South’ — lead organisers: Priyanka Basu and Ananya Jahanara Kabir (King’s College London)
  • ‘Transnational Activism in a Divided World: the Regional within the Global’ — lead organisers: Daniel Laqua (Northumbria) and Thomas Davies (City, University of London)
  • ‘The Future of Our Past: Where is Environmental History Heading?’ — lead organiser: Alexander Hibberts (Durham)
  • ‘Parliamentary Culture in Colonial Contexts, c.1500–c.1700’ — lead organisers: Paul Seaward (History of Parliament Trust), Pauline Kewes (Oxford) and Jim Van der Meulen (Ghent)

For more on the Society’s ‘Transactions Workshop Grants’ programme, please see here.

In addition, the Society’s runs a second workshop scheme, bringing historians together on a wider of academic-related projects. For more on these ‘RHS Workshop Grants’, please see here.

The co-editors of Transactions of the Royal Historical Society welcome submissions from all historians interested in publishing in the journal. Transactions publishes a wide range of content, including research articles, shorter ‘Common Room’ articles, roundtables and Special Sections.

Articles may address research questions, approaches to History, methodologies historiographical debates and the practice of historical research and teaching. The co-editors welcome submissions from historians, of all kinds within and beyond higher education, and at all career stages, including early career historians looking to publish from a first research project.

For more on the journal and how to submit an article, please see here.


History in UK Higher Education: A Statement from the Royal Historical Society

The President and Council of the Royal Historical Society have today issued a statement on their concerns for History teaching and research in UK Higher Education.

Please see here to read the full statement: ‘History in UK Higher Education. A Statement from the Royal Historical Society’

The statement identifies an environment of ‘unprecedented turbulence and uncertainty’ in the sector, evident in several forms: closure of departments, programmes of voluntary and compulsory redundancy; cuts to courses; and the persistent threat of future actions of this kind. The statement also comments on the changing profile of ‘at risk’ departments. Many of those with whom the Society now works are in established universities with long-standing History departments noted for their achievement in recent REF exercises.

Explanations for the increase of at risk departments rest with political decisions — notably the lifting the student cap in 2015 — and the marketisation of UK Higher Education. The negative effects of these changes are now being felt particularly acutely by History and other humanities disciplines.

In the coming months, the Royal Historical Society is undertaking a project to assess the full extent of the losses, risks and concerns that now characterise History in UK Higher Education. We expect to published this report later this year.

History in UK Higher Education: A Statement from the Royal Historical Society >

If you wish to contact the Society on topics raised in today’s statement, in confidence, please email: president@royalhistsoc.org

The Society’s Toolkit for Historians provides further resources for those at risk of departmental cuts and closures.


Guide to Windrush 75 history events taking place this month

22 June 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in Essex. The ship brought to Britain just over 800 passengers who had left the West Indies, the great majority of whom sought to settle and begin new lives in the UK.

The Windrush 75 anniversary is being marked in 2023 with events, exhibitions and broadcasts nationwide. In February, the Royal Historical Society issued a call for organisers of history-related events to send in details for posting on the RHS website.

The resulting list includes submitted events, along with others selected by the Society, which take place in June. They include academic conferences, lectures and seminars, alongside exhibitions, community history events and performances. Their organisers include national institutions, universities, libraries, archives and local history groups.

Full details of all the events are available here.

If you have further proposals to add to the list, please email: administration@royalhistsoc.org.

And forthcoming from the Royal Historical Society

In addition, the Society hosts two events in the near future which may be of interest, and to which all are welcome


Shortlists announced for Royal Historical Society book and article prizes, 2023

This week, the Society announced the shortlists for its 2023 prizes for first books and articles written by early career historians.

The winners of this year’s Whitfield, Gladstone and Alexander Prizes will be announced on Friday 21 June.



Society elects 315 new Fellows, Associate Fellows, Members and Postgraduate Members

At its latest meeting on 5 May 2023, the RHS Council elected 110 Fellows, 59 Associate Fellows, 57 Members and 89 Postgraduate Members, a total of 315 people newly associated with the Society.

The majority of the new Fellows hold academic appointments at universities, specialising in a very wide range of fields; but also include museum directors and curators, librarians, heads of learned societies, heritage consultants, and independent researchers and writers. The Society is an international community of historians and our latest intake includes Fellows from twelve countries: Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Our latest intake includes a number of historians working outside History departments, in cognate disciplines in higher education (on this occasion, Archaeology, the Built Environment, Art History, Museum Studies, Musicology, Philosophy and Theology): a reminder that the Fellowship is open to all whose research provides a scholarly contribution to historical knowledge.

The new Associate Fellows include not only early career historians in higher education but also historians with professional and private research interests drawn from broadcasting and journalism, conservation, libraries and archives, publishing, public and community history and teaching.

The new Members have a similarly wide range of historical interests, and include individuals employed in universities, and as civil servants, historical guides, museum managers, teachers, librarians and lawyers – together with independent and community historians. Our new Postgraduate Members are studying for higher degrees in History, or related subjects, at 45 different universities in the UK, Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Norway, South Africa and the United States. All those newly elected to the Fellowship and Membership bring a valuable range of expertise and experience to the Society.

New Fellows and Members are elected at regular intervals through the year. The current application round is open and runs to 5 June 2023, with the next closing date after this being 14 August 2023. Further details on RHS Fellowship and Membership categories (Fellow, Associate Fellow, Member and Postgraduate Member); benefits of membership; deadlines for applications throughout 2023; and how to apply, are available here.

New Fellows, elected May 2023

  • Síobhra Aiken
  • Samuel Aylett
  • Graham Barrett
  • Geoffrey Belknap
  • Bill Bell
  • Caroline Bertoneche
  • Carole Biggam
  • Uilleam Blacker
  • Cristina Blanco Sío-López
  • Frank Blazich
  • Jasmine Calver
  • William Carruthers
  • Louise Clare
  • Paul Cockerham
  • Gregory Conti
  • Jack Crangle
  • Huw Davies
  • Leanda de Lisle
  • Jennifer Durrant
  • Aidan Enright
  • Cindy Ermus
  • Alexander Ian Evans
  • Christine Ferguson
  • Samuel Fornecker
  • Sarah Fox
  • Matthew Gerth
  • Paul Gooding
  • Clare Griffin
  • John Griffiths
  • Peter Gunn
  • Hisham Hellyer
  • Briony Hudson
  • Jochen Hung
  • Adeel Hussain
  • Alessandro Iandolo
  • Andrew Jones
  • Ria Kapoor
  • Stephen Kay
  • Alexander Kazamias
  • Stephen Kite
  • Lars Kjær
  • Francis Knights
  • Paul Kua
  • Dawn LaValle Norman
  • Adam Lerner
  • Amy Lidster
  • Domenico Lovascio
  • David Lund
  • Joyce Macadam
  • Kevin Manton
  • Emily Mark-FitzGerald
  • Brian McCook
  • Thomas McInally
  • Victoria Mcmahon
  • Elizabeth Miller
  • Sarah-Louise Miller
  • Lynneth Miller Renberg
  • Simon Mollan
  • Luisa Morettin
  • Eve Morrison
  • Clare Mulley
  • Andrea Nicholson
  • Aidan Norrie
  • Alexander O’Hara
  • John Oliphant
  • Sebastian Page
  • Danielle Park
  • James Payton
  • Andrew Phemister
  • Diana Popescu
  • Robin Prior
  • Caroline Radcliffe
  • Mark Rankin
  • David Raw
  • Adam Richardson
  • Mike Robinson
  • Evan Rothera
  • Fearghus Roulston
  • Maeve Ryan
  • Edward Salo
  • Russell Sandberg
  • Sathnam Sanghera
  • Bihani Sarkar
  • Kristalyn Shefveland
  • Freya Sierhuis
  • Daniel Simpson
  • Kate Skinner
  • Chloe Wigston Smith
  • Martyn Smith
  • Claudia Soares
  • Charles Spicer
  • Alan Strauss-Schom
  • Ryan Sweet
  • Tom Sykes
  • Mari Takayanagi
  • Terry Tastard
  • Nicholas Taylor-Collins
  • Jonathan Topham
  • Simon Trafford
  • Deborah Valenze
  • Marcel van der Linden
  • Christina Welch
  • Rosamund Lily West
  • Kenton White
  • Antia Wiersma
  • Wendy Wiertz
  • Bastiaan Willems
  • Theo Williams
  • Andrew Winrow
  • Koji Yamamoto

New Associate Fellows, elected May 2023

  • Olga Akroyd
  • Emily Betz
  • Eric Blakeley
  • Roger Brown
  • David Brown
  • Jordan Brown
  • Robert Butt
  • Evan Cater
  • Sanjay Chaudhari
  • David Cowan
  • David Dennis
  • Ana Dias
  • Collins Edigin
  • Jasmine Elmer
  • Jennifer Farquharson
  • Jayne Friend
  • Mario Graña Taborelli
  • Lawrence Gregory
  • Carla Gutierrez Ramos
  • Catherine Healy
  • Ralf Bernd Herden
  • Siobhan Hyland
  • Zoë Karens
  • Phil Lyon
  • Hélène Maloigne
  • Davide Massimo
  • Javan Mokebo
  • Sophia Nicolov
  • Grace Owen
  • Carla Passino
  • Sarah Phelan
  • Georgia Priestley
  • Justin Reash
  • Fatima Rhorchi
  • Sarah Sargent
  • Jade Scott
  • Michael Sewell
  • John Simpson
  • Jonathan Skan
  • Helen Snelson
  • Andrew Southam
  • Alice Spiers
  • Michael Stansfield
  • Izaak Tanna
  • Clare Tonks
  • Adrian Waddingham
  • James Whitworth
  • Thomas Wilkinson
  • Calista Williams
  • Yen Nie Yong

New Members, elected May 2023

  • Marcus Aldrich
  • Ajay Asthana
  • Robert Bardell
  • Vicky Basra
  • Colin Brewer
  • Robert Bullard
  • Inskip Cable
  • Christopher Chambers
  • David Clarkson
  • David Crawford-Cummings
  • Ian Cummins
  • Brianna Dalrymple
  • Luis de Mascorro-Gonzalez
  • Thomas Deegan
  • Enver Alper Demirci
  • Piper Dobbie
  • John Engle III
  • Lee David Evans
  • Carol Fawsitt
  • Lydia Fell
  • Troy Gallagher
  • Lee Gatiss
  • Derek Greenwell
  • Lizzie Grice
  • Jack Guise
  • Laura Hawthorn
  • Hayley Hayhurst
  • Niall Hegarty
  • Jens Hepper
  • Thomas Hooley
  • Edward Hopkins
  • Yu-Yin Hsu
  • Tyler Ivey
  • Olivia Jones
  • Sarah Kirkman
  • Philipp Kneissl
  • Amanda Littlefield
  • Martin Loy
  • Mark Milligan
  • George Muirhead
  • Derek Nesbitt
  • Aleksandr Novikov
  • Patricia Okello-Amoah
  • Abdallah Omar
  • Brian Parker
  • Ayush Rai
  • Joshua Reinke
  • Shabib Rizvi
  • Buffy Schilling
  • Kevin Smith
  • Ka Pok Tam
  • Heather Turnbull
  • Philippe Van Hootegem
  • Charles Weigand
  • Alexander Witt
  • Matthew Yates
  • Sara Yorath

New Postgraduate Members, elected May 2023

  • Michael Admiraal
  • Dorcas Akinbo
  • Kye Allen
  • Maaian Aner
  • Arjan Arenas
  • Jonathan Baddley
  • Nicola Barker
  • Christopher Bates
  • Nicholas Berbiers
  • Christopher Berriman
  • Ishmael Bhila
  • Joseph Biesterfield
  • Dmytro Bondarenko
  • Gabriele Bonomelli
  • Madeleine Bracey
  • Julian Calcagno
  • Hollie Chambers
  • Tori Champion
  • Pui To Chan
  • Paris Chen
  • Catherine Clarke
  • Brittany Clarke
  • Alex Cooper
  • Emily Cotton
  • Ailene Crum
  • Hana Cutts-Smith
  • Siobhan Daly
  • Suchintan Das
  • Nicole DeRushie
  • Emmay Deville
  • Mark Dodson
  • Corey Estensen
  • Gregory Finney
  • Madeleine Foote
  • Eleanor Gillespie
  • Yan Cong Benjamin Goh
  • Paul Hamilton
  • Zarna Hart
  • Cheng He
  • Jennifer Hemphill
  • Alison Hight
  • Gill Holmes
  • Emma  Hyde
  • Elizabeth Isaac
  • Jagriti Jagriti
  • Lewis Johnson
  • Jessica Johnston
  • Sajjad Kantrikar
  • Kishwer Khan
  • Hewa Matharage Pathum Kodikara
  • Jonathan Kuo
  • Kin-yu Lau
  • Amanda Lavelle
  • Wen Yi Leong
  • Kevin Lockyer
  • Michael Lucy
  • Dickson Mangsatabam
  • Julie Mathias
  • Isabelle Moss
  • Connor Muqiao
  • Liberty Murphy
  • Fatima Naveed
  • Lesley Niezynski
  • Zala Pochat Krizaj
  • Mads Proitz
  • Madeleine Reynolds
  • Francesco Romagnoli
  • Amelia Rosch
  • Elena Rossi
  • James Samuel
  • Jamie Selig
  • Sana Shah
  • Timothy Sim
  • Judith Somekh
  • Brendan Tam
  • Alex Tant-Brown
  • Patrick Taylor
  • Rose Teanby
  • Fabiënne Tetteroo
  • Emma Teworte
  • Melita  Thomas
  • Aurelie Toitot
  • Moussa Traore
  • Reynold Kai Won Tsang
  • Francisca Valenzuela Villaseca
  • Isobel Weare
  • Mackenzie Wells
  • Emma  Yeo
  • Zijian Zhang


HEADER IMAGE: People from Five Countries (detail) Utagawa (Gountei) Sadahide Japanese, 1861, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, public domain.


Society Visit to historians at the University of Northampton, 17 May

On Wednesday 17 May, members of the Society’s Council and staff visited historians at the University of Northampton. Visits are an opportunity to meet with historians, researchers and students, and to discuss priorities, interests and concerns relating to research, teaching and the profession.

We are very grateful to all those at Northampton who made this Visit possible, especially to Dr Tim Reinke-Williams and Professor Roey Sweet (Leicester) for her guest lecture, on eighteenth-century British travellers to Spain, which concluded the Visit.

Further Society Visits to UK history departments will take place through the year, to the universities of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church, the Highlands and Islands, and Hertfordshire.

Guest lecturers taking part in forthcoming Visits are Will Pettigrew (Lancaster), Lucy Noakes (Essex), Elaine Farrell (Queen’s Belfast) and Leanne McCormick (Ulster). Details of all these RHS sponsored lectures will be added to our Events Programme in the coming months, and all are welcome to attend in-person or online.



Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy and the Russo-Ukrainian War

The Royal Historical Society was honoured to host the distinguished historian of Ukraine, Professor Serhii Plokhy, at an event held on Tuesday 16 May.

The event took place on publication day of Professor Plokhy’s new book, The Russo-Ukrainian War, about which he spoke, in conversation with Professor Sir Richard J. Evans. At the event Serhii and Sir Richard discussed the long history of the war, the motivations for the Russian invasion in February 2022, the distinctive character of Ukrainian civil society, and possible futures for Russia and Ukraine.

Serhii Plokhy is Mykhailo S. Hrushevs’kyi Professor of Ukrainian History and Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. He is one of the most widely known historians working today and the author of numerous studies on the history of Ukraine, modern warfare and the Cold War.

His books include Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy (2018), which won the Baillie Gifford and Pushkin House Book Prizes; The Gates of Europe. A History of Ukraine (2015); and Lost Kingdom. A History of Russian Nationalism from Ivan the Great to Vladimir Putin (2017). Professor Plokhy’s extensive work on the history nuclear power and arms include Nuclear Folly. A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis (2021) and Atoms and Ashes. From Bikini Atoll to Fukushima (2022).

Wednesday’s event was jointly organised with the Ukrainian Institute London to whom the Society is very grateful for this opportunity. A video of the conversation between Serhii and Sir Richard will be made available shortly.



RHS Visit to historians at Edge Hill University, 10 May

On Wednesday 10 May, members of the Society’s Council and staff visited historians at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. RHS Visits are an opportunity to meet faculty members, graduate teaching assistants, researchers and students, and to learn more about a department’s profile and work. Visits are also provide time to discuss colleague’s priorities and concerns, about the discipline and profession, and how the Society can best provide support.

We are very grateful to all those at Edge Hill who made this Visit possible, especially to Professor Alyson Brown and also to Dr Bob Nicholson for his lecture on public history as part of the day. Bob’s lecture provided insight into the creation of his new BBC Sounds Podcast, Killing Victoria, which is now available.

The Society’s next Visit (17 May) is to the history department at the University of Northampton, where the RHS sponsored lecture will be given, at 5pm, by Professor Rosemary Sweet (Leicester) on the subject of ‘British encounters with Spain’s Muslim past, c.1760-1820’.

Further Society Visits to UK history departments will take place through the year. Details of the RHS sponsored lectures at each Visit will be added to our Events Programme in the coming months.


‘History and Archives in Practice’ – first conference in new annual series held on 29 March

On 29 March, the Society held its first day-conference in its new series, History and Archives in Practice (#HAP23). Co-organised with The National Archives and Institute of Historical Research, the conference brought together historians and archivists to discuss collaborative working, with reference to current projects.

This year’s HAP conference, with a capacity audience, heard from 14 projects involving 17 archive centres and universities across the UK. Full details of the day and these projects are available here.



Sessions focused on (among other topics) widening participation, research ethics, working with volunteers, public engagement and digital preservation, as well handling and demonstration sessions placing collections at the heart of the event.

Recordings of the panels will be released shortly.

Extra panel session for our video presenters, 27 April 2023



An additional 5 projects have created short videos of their work, and we’ll be continuing the conversation with the presenters of these videos, online, at 12.45pm on Thursday 27 April to which all are welcome.

Taking part in HAP24

From 2024, we’re taking History and Archives in Practice around the UK.

If your archive / university is interested in partnering with the RHS, TNA and IHR for HAP24 next March, please contact us.