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Dr Simon Peplow

I am a researcher of modern British race, ethnicity, and migration history, having a particular interest in Black British political participation and engagement through official mechanisms and collective violence. My research combines aspects of social, political, and cultural history, and I have broader research interests in these fields – particularly within modern Britain.

My first monograph Race and Riots in Thatcher's Britain (Manchester University Press, 2019), based on my PhD research, is the first study to use newly released records regarding the 1980-81 disturbances in England. Case studies of Bristol, Brixton, and Manchester explore the importance of the public inquiry in public and political culture, by demonstrating that governmental inquiries were simultaneously viewed by Black Britons as either a solution or a fraud, as well as being a guarded privilege and later tactical concession from alarmed establishment figures. Locating 1980-81 within a longer history, I also argue that the disturbances should be viewed broadly within the 'collective bargaining by riot' framework (Hobsbawm).

My current research extends my analysis of the political tactics of Black people and organisations in Britain throughout the 1980s, comparing and examining the links between anti-apartheid and domestic anti-racist groups in Thatcher's Britain, investigating the changing nature of political protest during this period. Other projects explore the policing of migrant communities, and the history of the Race Relations Board (1966-77) and Community Relations Commission (1968-77).

I have made various contributions to the BBC News website, BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Somerset, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Wiltshire, and pieces for The Conversation, Bristol Post, Western Morning News, History Workshop Online, The History of Parliament, Politics Home, and other media outlets related to my research and its contemporary significance. I have been involved with the GW4 Modern British Politics and Political History research group, and have presented my research to Home Office civil servants following an invitation by History & Policy.

I am co-convenor of the Black British History Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, and History UK's ECR representative.

Academic Profile

  • 2021 onwards: Associate Professor in 20th Century British History, University of Warwick
  • 2018-2021: Senior Teaching Fellow in 20th Century British History, University of Warwick
  • 2016-2018: Lecturer in History, University of Exeter
  • 2011-2016: Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, University of Exeter
  • 2011-2015: PhD History, University of Exeter
  • 2010-2011: MA Political Culture in Modern Britain, Aberystwyth University
  • 2007-2010: BA History, Aberystwyth University


Recent Publications



Edited Special Issues:

Book Reviews:

Other Publications:



Race and Riots in Thatcher's Britain