Wednesday 4 January 2023

[Conference Programme] From Student Unions to Trade Unions: Campus-Based Activism and Beyond

 We are delighted to announce the programme for our event "From Student Unions to Trade Unions: Campus-Based Activism and Beyond". This conference is supported by the Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH). It will take place over two days (12 and 13 January) in Newcastle upon Tyne, followed by some online sessions on 27 January. For further information, please contact Daniel Laqua ( or register via this link (individual sign-up for each day).

From Student Unions to Trade Unions: 

Campus-Based Activism and Beyond


 12–13 January 2023 (Newcastle upon Tyne) and 27 January 2023 (online)



Thursday 12 January


15h00 – Welcome Session

·       Daniel Laqua (Associate Professor of European History, Northumbria University) – Introduction

·       Georgina Brewis (Professor of Social History, University College London) – New research into archiving and record keeping practices in UK student union

15h20 – International Students (chair: Emily Sharp, PhD Candidate in History, Northumbria University)

·       Edward Anderson (Assistant Professor in History, Northumbria University) – Anti-Imperialism, Student Politics, and Memorialisation: Indian Students in Newcastle at the Twilight of the British Empire

·       Jodi Burkett (Senior Lecturer in History, Portsmouth University) – In Service of the Community or the State? Overseas Students and Language Provision [online]

16h20 – Coffee, Tea and Cake

 16h35 – Protest in the ‘Long 1970s’ (chair: Sam Blaxland, ‘Generation UCL’ Fellow, University College London)

·       Frederick Coombes (PhD Candidate in African History, University of Leeds) – ‘I Was Really Privileged’: The Ambiguities of Protest in the Face of Repression, Deportation and Incarceration around l’Université de Dakar, 1966–1973

·       Chris Perkins (Senior Lecturer in Japanese, University of Edinburgh) – Japan’s 1968 on Trial

·       Sarah Campbell (Senior Lecturer in Irish and British History, Newcastle University) – ‘The Lines Have Been Drawn’: The H-Block Protest and Student Activism in Northern Ireland, 1977–1981

 18h00 – End of Day 1



Friday 13 January

 9h20 – Arrival / Coffee and Tea

9h35 – Confronting Political Change (chair: Charlotte Alston, Professor of History, Northumbria University)

·       Rory Hanna (PhD Candidate in History, University of Sheffield) – Between Solidarity and Scepticism: West German Students and Afro-Asian Activism, 1956–1962

·       Emily Sharp (PhD Candidate in History, Northumbria University) – British Students and the Practice of Solidarity in the 1970s and 1980s

·       Anne HEFFERNAN (Assistant Professor in Southern African History, Durham University) – Students in (the) Transition: How Student Movements Navigated South Africa’s Political Transition into the Post-Apartheid Era

 11h00 – Coffee and Tea

11h15 Beyond University Students (chair: Georgina Brewis, Professor of Social History, University College London)

·       George Bodie (Lecturer in History, Goldsmiths College) – ‘A Terrible Blow to All National Liberation Movements’: The Cuban Missile Crisis through the Eyes of African Trade Unionist-Students in Berlin, 1962

·       Laura Tisdall (NUAcT Fellow in History, Newcastle University) – The National Union of School Students (NUSS) and Age-Based Activism in Cold War Britain

 12h15 – Lunch

13h10 – Protest and Subversion Today (chair: Linsey Robb, Associate Professor of British History, Northumbria University)

·       Jean-Thomas Martelli (Research Fellow, International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden University) – Can the Popular Disembody Populism? Students and the Re-appropriation of the Nationalist Floating Signifier in Contemporary Indian Politics

·       Heather McKnight (Magnetic Ideals Collective, Brighton) – Reimagining the University through Resistance: The Prefigurative Possibilities of Joint Working, Protest and Academic Freedom


14h10 – Coffee and Tea


14h30 – Personal and Political Trajectories (chair: James Koranyi, Associate Professor of History, Durham University)

·       Andreea Dahlquist (Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies) – Fascist Activism in the Interwar Years: From Student Movement to Political Militantism in the Shadow of the Romanian-Polish Alliance [co-authored paper, with Bogdan-Alexandru Schipor (Senior Researcher in Contemporary History, A.D. Xenopol History Institute of the Romanian Academy)]

·       Dan Hodgkinson (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Oxford) – Living with Ruins: Past Dreams and Their Personal Effects at the End of the Cold War in Zimbabwe

·       Safia Dahani (Postdoctoral Fellow, École des hautes études en sciences sociales / Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique, Paris) – A New Branch of Political Recruitment? The Recent Conversion of FAGE Leaders in the French Political Field


15h55 – End of Day 2 (closing words: Daniel Laqua, Associate Professor of European History, Northumbria University)



Friday 27 January

 10h40 Online Panel 1: Students and Social Movements

·       Opening / Reflections on in-person events

·       Antonin Dubois (EHESS Paris / Université de Franche-Comté) – Should Students Unionise? Debates on Trade-Unionism among French Students, 1900–1946

·       Giuseppe Lipari (PhD Candidate, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence) – School Student Unions and Trade Unions in the Mobilisations of 2014–2015 in Italy

 11h50 Lunch Break

 12h40 Online Panel 2: Student Lives

·       Ellen R. Dixon (PhD Candidate in International Relations, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington / President, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations), Jacqueline Watt (PhD Student in Social Anthropology

Massey University / Co-President, Massey @ Distance Students’ Association) and Gwen Palmer Steeds (Researcher and Equity Officer, Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association)  – In-Debted Lives: The Political Ecology of the Campaigns Against Student Debt in Aotearoa New Zealand

·       Sarah Crook (Senior Lecturer in British History, Swansea University) – Building the Healthy Campus: Students and Mental Health Activism in 1960s and 1970s Britain

·       Discussant: Heather Ellis (Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow, School of Education, Sheffield University)

 13h50 Break

 14h05 Online Panel 3: Students and (Inter-)National Politics

·       Miroslav Vašík (PhD Candidate in History, Charles University Prague) – Czech Students in the 1848 Revolution: Connecting Prague and the Countryside?

·       Ana-Maria Stan (Senior Researcher in History, Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca) – La Petite Entente des Étudiants: An Example of Student Activism and Student Diplomacy in Interwar Eastern Europe

·       Nikhil Tiwari (Ph.D. Candidate, Centre for East Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University) – Inquiry into the Role of Student Movements in Taiwan’s Democratisation and Democratic Consolidation

·       Discussant: Ljubica Spaskovska (Lecturer in European History, University of Exeter)


15h30 Break


15h45 Launch Event

·       Daniel Laqua (Associate Professor of European History, Northumbria University) and Nikolaos Papadogiannis (Lecturer in European History, Stirling University) – Youth and Internationalism in the Twentieth Century: Special Journal Issue of Social History

Tuesday 1 November 2022

Call for Papers: From Student Unions to Trade Unions


Call for Papers

From Student Unions to Trade Unions: Campus-Based Activism and Beyond

13 January 2023

Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne



This workshop will explore the different ways in which campus-based activism linked to wider goals of social and political change as well as tracing the conflicts that emerged in such settings. It will bring together historians working on different countries and regions, with discussions that encourage comparative and transnational perspectives.


In 1922, student leaders from England and Wales established the National Union of Students (NUS) and, in doing so, connected local efforts to represent students with endeavours that were being waged within the national and international spheres. The formation of the NUS was part of a broader, international phenomenon – namely the creation of bodies that staked claims beyond individual college or university settings. From the very beginning, local and national student unions were subject to underlying tensions. On the one hand, some activists were keen to focus on matters that seemed to have a direct bearing on student concerns, from dealing with educational provision and student welfare to promoting sports or travel. On the other hand, a competing conception of student activism sought to link it to wider social and political visions. The latter variety manifested itself in different ways, for instance student involvement in anticolonial struggles, the rise of radical protest in 1968 and students’ involvement in international solidarity campaigns during the 1970s. In many ways, these dual foci, and the tensions that they often entail, have been consistent features of student politics.


We encourage papers that focus on different countries as well as contributions that explore international, transnational and methodological dimensions. Speakers may focus on different time periods. We are particularly interested in contributions that help to shed light on some of the following questions: 


·       In what ways and what contexts did student activists forge connections with other social and political actors, for instance trade unions, political parties and social movements?

·       How did participation in welfare provision and self-help relate to broader quests for social change?

·       How did students engage with industrial relations on campus (e. g. lecturers’ strikes)?

·       What roles did local or national student unions play in specific political campaigns? 

·       What were the manifestations and limitations of international solidarity (as articulated by student activists)?

·       How did officials and state agencies engage with student activists and their politics?

·       What are the sources and methods through which we can examine student activism, especially in terms of its relationship with social movements?


The event is hosted by the History of Activism research group at Northumbria University, with support from the Society for the Study of Labour History (SSLH). Thanks to funding from the SSLH, we can provide some partial travel subsidies to PhD students and early-career researchers who do not have access to institutional funds. If you would like to offer a paper for this event, please submit a brief abstract (150–200 words) and a biographical note to Daniel Laqua ( by 20 November 2022.

Monday 23 August 2021

Online workshop on Transnational and Diaspora Politics and Activism

On 24-25 August, the Histories of Activism Research Group – in partnership with the Global and Transnational History Research Group - is hosting an online workshop that brings together 20 scholars conducting exciting new research on histories of transnational and diasporic political movements and activism. The topics explored at the workshop range from studies into pro- and anti-apartheid activism, to student and green politics, to black power and anti-colonial solidarities, to the politics of museum collecting, and much more. Please see below for the full programme.

Registration is free and open to all. It will take place on Microsoft Teams: links and further details will be shared with you once you register. To register, please visit the Eventbrite page here: 

The research presented at the workshop forms part of a body of scholarship, much of which has emerged only recently, that considers global and transnational dimensions to political movements and activist networks. Some of this explores various forms of international advocacy, civil rights campaigning, ‘long-distance nationalism’, anti-colonial struggles, sites of interaction and cooperation, and the transnational layers of connection and influence played by migrant and diaspora communities. This has been manifested in the realm of formal political processes, such as election campaigning and voting, as well as in numerous forms and hues of activism. Understanding these histories may have repercussions for how we make sense of transnationalism, citizenship, diaspora, sovereignty, cosmopolitanism, political ideology and praxis, and democracy itself.

The workshop has a particular (but not exclusive) focus on the 1970s. This decade - following the upheavals of the late-1960s - seemed to witness a number of significant expressions of transnational mobilisation, many of which have received little or no academic attention. By reflecting on the 1970s - in the context of decolonisation, the Cold War, evolving diaspora communities, and new forms of globalisation and transnational connectivity - we hope to explore concrete or theoretical ties between different episodes and movements during this important historical period.

For further details please email Dr Edward Anderson (



Tuesday, 24 August 2021 


Panel One (10:00 - 12.30)


Transnational Solidarities and Racism in the Long 1970s


Chair: Liam Liburd (Durham University)  


JoAnn McGregor 

University of Sussex

Southern African Liberation Movements and Networks of Military Support: ZAPU’s Diplomatic Offensive in the Early 1970s

Benjamin Bland 

University of York 

‘Against All Reason’: British Anti-Racism and Transnational Opposition to Apartheid in the Long 1970s     

Evan Smith 

Flinders University

From Wellington and Sydney to Salisbury and Johannesburg: Anti-Communist and White Supremacist Solidarity between Australasia and Southern Africa, 1950s-1980s

Emily Sharp 

Northumbria University 

British Students and Transnational Solidarity Networks in the Long 1970s


Break (12:30-13:30)


Panel Two (13:30-15:30)


Long-distance Nationalisms and Diaspora Activism 


Chair: Virinder S. Kalra (University of Warwick)


Edward Anderson 


Patrick Clibbens 

Northumbria University


University of Cambridge

The Indian Emergency (1975-77) and Transnational Networks of Solidarity 

Pamela Pennock 

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Free Palestine, Free Ourselves: Arab Americans and Transnational Activism in the 1970s

Sharon M. Quinsaat 

Grinnell College

The Long Arm of the Dictator: Ferdinand Marcos and the Transnational Repression of Overseas Filipinos


Wednesday, 25 August 2021 


Panel Three (10:00 - 12:00)


Transnationalism, the State and Non-State Actors


Chair: Daniel Laqua (Northumbria University)


Priya Swamy


Sarah Johnson 

Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

The (a)politics of Representation: The Dutch Ethnographic Museum and Afghan Collections 1970-1990

Ian Sanjay Patel 

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

'A Diplomatic Offensive': State Mobilisation During the 1972 Uganda Expulsion

Kevin O’Sullivan

National University of Ireland, Galway

Environmental Futures: Green Activism in Britain and Ireland in the 1970s and early 1980s


Break (12:00-13:00)


Panel Four (13:00-15:00)


Transnational and Diaspora Identities: Class, Race and Ethnicity


Chair: Kennetta Hammond Perry (De Montfort University)


Simone Battiston 

Swinburne University

Transnational Experiences of Diasporic Political Activism in Australia in the 1970s and 1980s: Exploring the Case Study of Pierina Pirisi

David Featherstone 

University of Glasgow 

Seafarers’ Struggles for Equality and Transnational Class Formation in the Conjuncture of Decolonization 

Robin Bunce 

University of Cambridge

The Black Eagles: The Changing Face of Black Power in Britain

Fatima Rajina


Victoria Redclift 

De Montfort University


University College London

Remembering the Liberation War of 1971: Transnationalism and Racism


Concluding thoughts and comments (15:00 - 15:30)

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Online Symposia on 6 and 20 November: Non-Conformity, Critiques and Contention under Communist Rule in the 1970s and 1980s

With support from the Society for the Study of Labor History, Northumbria University's History of Activism research group is hosting two online symposia on different ways in which communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe was being critiqued and contested during the 1970s and 1970s. To register for these online symposia, please contact Daniel Laqua

Friday, 6 November 2020, 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Challenging ‘Actually Existing Socialism'

  • André Keil (Liverpool John Moores University) – ‘Instandbesetzen’? Squatting in the Late GDR between Social Protest, Youth Culture, and Conservation
  • Richard Millington (University of Chester) – Challenging the State? Petty Thieves in the GDR, 1971–1989

Cultural Change and New Social Movements

  • Aleksandra Gajowy (Newcastle University) – Polish Queer Homecomings: Filo, DIK Fagazine, and Unearthing Ryszard Kisiel’s Archive
  • Alexandra Wedl (University of Basel) – Green Volunteers in Czechoslovakia: The Youth Newspaper Mladý svět and Its Environmental Campaign, 1970s –1980s

Critiques and Future Visions in the Late 1980s

  • Dirk Dalberg (Slovak Academy of Sciences) – Self-Government as an Alternative Socialism: Czechoslovakia in the Late 1980s
  • Anna Calori (University of Leipzig) – Between Reformism and Neoliberalism: Envisaging Alternative Socialisms in the Debates of Yugoslav Economists (1987–1991)

Friday 20 November, 1:30 to 5:00 pm

Opposition Movements

  • Anselma Gallinat (Newcastle University) – Challenging the State on Pastoral and Theological Grounds: Church–State Engagements in East Germany
  • James Koranyi (Durham University) – Romanian Skirmishes: Aktionsgruppe Banat, Trade Union Nostalgia, and Opposition to Ceaușescu
  • Daniel Laqua (Northumbria University) – Solidarity and Protest: East–West Responses to the Biermann Expatriation of 1976

Dissent in Transnational Perspective

  • Irina Gordeeva (Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam / St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute, Moscow) – Edward Palmer Thompson and the Soviet Independent Peace Movement
  • Mark Hurst (Lancaster University) – ‘Conversations with Cannibals’: Misunderstood Activism across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War
  • Kim Christiaens and Jos Claeys (KU Leuven) – Failures, Limits and Competition: Campaigns on behalf of Eastern European Dissidents in Cold War Belgium, 1960s–1980s

Concluding Discussion