I was born in Stirling, and was a frequent visitor to the University campus in my formative years. I completed my undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Oxford (BA in History, MPhil in Modern European History, DPhil in History), and there developed my long-standing interest in Russian history. In 2013 I was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which I held for three years at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. In 2016 I was appointed as Lecturer in Modern European History at Brasenose College, Oxford. I held this post until Spring 2019, when I returned to Stirling.
Throughout this time, I have spent long periods abroad working in archives in Russia (Kazan, Perm, Moscow, and, above all, St Petersburg), but also in Ukraine (Lviv, Chernivtsi), and Austria (Vienna). I have frequently taught Russian history, but I have also taught various aspects of European History from the 1680s until 1989. I am most at home within the European long-nineteenth century (1789-1917), and situate my work on Russia within this context.
The primary area of my research concerns the relationship between religion and politics in the Russian Empire during the long-nineteenth century. In particular I work on the history of the Old Believers, the largest group of religious dissenters in Russia. My published monograph examines a period of intense religious persecution in the 1840s and 1850s and demonstrates that the treatment of the Old Believers can tell us a great deal about Russian politics and society. I am now working on a British Academy-funded project about the impact of Old Belief, as a national religious division, upon the development of the Russian empire between 1800 and 1917. I hope that the resulting book will help to establish the importance of religion in understanding the collapse of the Russian imperial regime. My work covers a great many aspects of Russia’s pre-revolutionary history. The documents relating to Old Belief provide fascinating insights into the daily lives of the peasantry, but they also help us to understand the workings of the autocracy as a political system, trends of secularisation and religious revival, the development of Russian nationalism and liberalism, and the origins of the revolutionary movement. I am interested in all these themes, both in the Russian and European context, and would be very happy to hear from prospective graduate students with similar interests.