£500k funding for research project on Conservatism and Unionism in the UK
The University of St Andrews and Queen’s University Belfast have been awarded £492,630 for a project which will chart the historical evolution of the relationship between Conservatism and Unionism throughout the UK.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant will fund a three-year collaboration between Dr Malcolm Petrie, Lecturer in Late Modern Scottish History in the School of History at St Andrews, and Dr Paul Corthorn, Reader in Modern British History in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s, who is the Principal Investigator.
This project will study the pivotal period between 1968 and 1997, when the previously close association between Conservatism and Unionism, forged amid the politics of the Irish Question in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, began to unravel. This decoupling of Conservatism and Unionism continues to have far-reaching implications for the future of the Union.
Dr Petrie said: “We will grapple with questions about how Conservatives and Unionists across the UK viewed the Union, and what constitutional form they believed it should take. Working with a postdoctoral research assistant, Dr Corthorn and I will explore a range of archival sources, including previously unused collections.
“Concentrating on the interaction between political ideas and party politics, we will investigate Conservative and Unionist attitudes towards constitutional reform, devolution, the Cold War, European integration, and economic policy.”
The project will produce a book for a wide academic and popular audience and, as part of a public and academic impact strategy, there will be a conference, talks and workshops, and a collaboration with the History Teachers’ Association in Northern Ireland to produce an online GCSE resource on Ulster Unionism in a UK perspective. The project will also help inform contemporary debates over the future direction and durability of the Union settlement.
Malcolm Petrie is Lecturer in Late Modern Scottish History in the School of History at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Politics and the People: Scotland, 1945-1979 (Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming, 2022).
Paul Corthorn is Reader in Modern British History in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen’s University Belfast. He is the author of Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain (Oxford University Press, 2019).
Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.