Dr Charlie Whitham

Senior Lecturer in History

Department of English, History and Creative Writing

Profile

My career as a historian stems from a lifelong fascination with the Second World War and a compulsion to seek alternative explanations to the dominant narratives of the war that continue to litter our understanding of this pivotal moment in world history. Demythologizing the war led inexorably to an appreciation of the vital role of the United States and its mighty economy – the fuller comprehension of which continues to drive my research to this day. In essence my research is concerned with how American power was conceived and articulated in a global context as it rose to ‘superpowerdom’ during the critical mid-twentieth century.

Both my masters (University of the West of England, Bristol), and my doctoral thesis (Swansea University) were dedicated to analysing United States wartime economic policy towards the British West Indies, providing the substance of my earliest articles and first monograph. The collection and dissemination of this research has entailed fellowships at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (New York), Harry S. Truman Library (Missouri), and George H.W. Bush Library (Texas), numerous visits to archives in London, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and California, as well as several papers at conferences in the UK, France, Portugal, Germany, Holland and the United States. Currently I am involved in two research projects. In the first I am part of an international team of scholars looking at the broadest impact – political, economic, social, cultural, legal and environmental – of United States military bases on Western Europe during the Cold War. A unique characteristic of this research is its focus upon the local, and not just the national or international, impact of the bases. The second is a solo venture to provide the first ever account of the role of American planning organisations – mainly from the business community like the Committee for Economic Development and the National Planning Association – in defining US post-war economic policy during the 1940s. A monograph of this research will appear soon.

Research

In essence my research is concerned with how American power was conceived and articulated in a global context as it rose to ‘superpowerdom’ during the critical mid-twentieth century. My early research focused on how rising US power was expressed in the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’, but over the last few years has been devoted primarily to investigations of US power in two areas:-

  1. the impact of US military basing policy in W. Europe during the Cold War era, and
  2. the role of corporate elites in formulating US foreign economic policy during the 1940s.

International collaboration: American Bases Impacts Working Group

Currently I am joint-coordinator with Professor Alan P. Dobson (University of Dundee) of a major transatlantic collaboration documenting the European experience of US military bases during 1945-2005. This multi-disciplinary, open-ended project  has already attracted several respected scholars in disciplines of history, political science and culture from Britain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United States.

Publications based on two international conferences have already emanated from this project: Jeffrey Engel (ed), Local Consequences of the Global Cold War, (Stanford, Woodrow Wilson Press, 2007); and Luis Nunos Rodriguez and Sergiy Glebov (ed), Military Bases: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Challenges, (LisbonIOS Press, 2009).

My personal role in the project is to provide overall coordination – such as through workshops – and to write about the British experience of US bases, not only from a diplomatic/political viewpoint but more uniquely from the local socio-economic standpoint. My latest publications – on Holy Loch and especially Brawdy – deal with these local ‘impacts’ (see Publications)

The longer-term (2-3 years) aim of the project is to produce a single, unique text on the bases experience (working title ‘In Our Backyard: American Bases in Europe – Impact and Experience, 1945-2005′), that spans the full spectrum of political, security, economic, and social relations between the US and Western Europe.

Individual project: Corporate Elites and the War

This project is dedicated to the study of the role, influence and power of US corporate elites upon US government post-war economic planning. It is anticipated these works will make a significant and qualitative contribution to our understanding of the role of elite corporate groups in shaping policy, in this case US foreign economic policy during this critical period in American history. Few scholars work in this field and to date none have gained the degree of access to primary sources in relation to the key planning groups that I have enjoyed.

I have advanced my research with regular papers at conferences, both in Europe and the USA, and have enjoyed professional contact with leaders in the field such as William Domhoff and Tom Zeiler. Outputs to date include a recent article for the Journal of Contemporary History (see Publications) and a book contract with Bloomsbury Academic (Postwar Planners and American Economic Power).

Professional academic memberships include the Transatlantic Studies Association, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the American Historical Association, the British International Studies Association, the Economic History Association (USA) and the Economic History Society. For the Transatlantic Studies Association I was Deputy Treasurer (2006-9), and was Reviews Editor for the Association’s journal (2006-9).

I also act as reviewer and referee for various journals: recently I have peer reviewed article proposals for the Journal of Transatlantic Studies (inc. an edited collection), Enterprise & Society and for the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. 

Teaching

  • HIS2021 Slavery, The South and Sectional Conflict: The United States, 1800-1877
  • HIS2022 Urbanization, Immigration & Economic Crisis: The United States, 1880-1941
  • HIS2023 Mission & Manifest Destiny: U.S. Foreign Policy & Expansionism, 1840-1939
  • HIS2024 Rise to Globalism: U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1939
  • HIS3020 Black Life & Protest in the United States, 1895-1945
  • HIS3021 Black Life & Protest in the United States Since 1945

Teaching Experience

Since completing my doctorate I have developed a varied profile at all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in modern American and international history. Courses I have taught include general American and British history, United States foreign policy from Independence to the present day, the First and Second World Wars, Cold War history, Anglo-American relations from the Eighteenth century to the present, African American history, United States-European Union Relations, the history of conflict, and US and British defence and security studies.

My teaching experience is therefore both varied and highly inter-disciplinary, spanning history, politics and international relations. My teaching has involved a wide range of age groups (18-80), at part-time and full-time, to people from a multitude of backgrounds, including international students and the armed forces, and using a variety of teaching methods: traditional lecturing, OHP’s, power-point, large and small groups, seminars, blogs and wikis. I have also had significant experience of ICT teaching methods, using common VLEs for course information, lecture notes and on-line marking. In all I have taught in departments of History, Politics, European and International Studies, Adult Education and Defence Studies at universities in Loughborough, Swansea, Bristol, Swindon and Cardiff. I also have considerable experience of course design at all undergraduate levels and postgraduate level, with exerience as course tutor, undergraduate dissertation supervisor, external masters and doctorate examiner, and PhD supervisor. In 2009 I completed the Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching Higher Education (PGCtHE).

Publications

Books

Bitter Rehearsal: British and American Planning for a Post-War West Indies (Westport: Praeger, 2002).

Post-War Business Planners in the United States, 1939-48: The Rise of the Corporate Moderates (New York: Bloomsbury, 2016)

Refereed Journal Articles

‘On Dealing with Gangsters: The limits of British ‘generosity’ in the leasing of bases to the United States, 2 September 1940-27 March 1941’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol. 7, No.3, (Nov.1996), pp.569-610.

‘Sore Thumbs and Beachcombers: Britain, the War Debt and the Cession of the British West Indies, July 1938-May 1940’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol.25, No.3, (Sep.1997), pp.466-488.

‘Seeing the Wood for the Trees: the British Foreign Office and the Anglo-American Trade Agreement of 1938’, Twentieth Century British History Vol.16, No.1 (March 2005), pp.29-43.

‘No Panic over Panama: British Reaction to American Declarations on European Territories, 1939-1940’, in Cardiff School of Education Research Papers No.5, (September 2009), pp.7-17.

‘Sheep, Subs and Showcases: The American Military in Brawdy, 1974-1995’, Welsh History Review, Vol. 24, No.4 (December 2009), pp.168-187.

‘The Thin End of the Wedge: The British Foreign Office, the West Indies and avoiding the Destroyer-Bases Deal, 1938-1940’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol.11, No.3 (2013), pp.234-248. DOI: 10.1080/14794012.2013.814382.

‘The Committee for Economic Development, Foreign Trade and the rise of American Corporate Liberalism, 1942-1948’, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 48, No.4 (October 2013), pp.845-871.

Papers in published editions

Charlie Whitham, ‘Leverage, Leaks and Liabilities: Holy Loch and the ‘special’ Anglo-American nuclear relationship, 1960-65′, in Claire Sandbourne (ed), La ‘relation speciale’ Royaume-Uni/Etats-Unis 1945-1991, entre mythe et realite, (Paris, Universite Paris VII, 2003), pp.115-136.

Alan P. Dobson and Charlie Whitham, ‘Project Lamachus: The Cold War comes to Scotland’ in Jeffrey Engel (ed), Local Consequences of the Global Cold War, (Stanford, Woodrow Wilson Press, 2007), 169-192.

Charlie Whitham, ‘Bargaining over Brawdy: Negotiating the American Military Presence in Wales, 1971’ in Luis Nunos Rodriguez and Sergiy Glebov (ed), Military Bases: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Challenges, (Lisbon, IOS Press, 2009), pp.40-55.

Chapters in books

Charlie Whitham, ‘Had Wales Anything to Fear from the Cold War?’ in H.V. Bowen (ed), New History of Wales: Myths and Realities in Welsh History, (Wales, Gomer Press, 2011), pp.166-173.

Charlie Whitham, ‘Anglo-American Post-War Planning’ in Tom Zeiler (ed), A Companion to World War Two, (New York, Blackwell Publishing, 2013), pp.945-961.

Co-edited collections

Charlie Whitham and Steve Marsh (eds), Anglo-American Relations in War, Cold War and the Post-Cold War Era (Journal of Transatlantic Studies Special Issue), Vol.10 (June 2012).

Newspaper Articles

Charlie Whitham, ‘Did Wales have anything to fear from the Cold War?’ Western Mail, 24 October 2010.

Book Reviews

‘Friendly Fire: The Near-Death of the Transatlantic Alliance’ by Elizabeth Pond, Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol.2, No.2, (Sep.2004), pp.108-110.

‘The United States and Europe: Beyond the Neo-Conservative Divide?’ by John Baylis  and  Jon Roper (eds), Journal of Transatlantic Studies, Vol.5, No.2, (Autumn 2007), pp.201-204.

‘Brother’s Keeper: the United States, Race and Empire in the British Caribbean, 1937-1962’ by Jason Parker, New West Indian Review, Vol. 84 (Nos 3&4 December 2010)

Adam Matthew Digital’s ‘Confidential Print’, for Reviews in History (e-journal by Institute of Historical Research), June 2010.

‘Old World, New World: The Story of Britain and America’, by Kathleen Burke, Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 46 (February 2011), pp.203-204.

‘Britain’s quest for a role: a diplomatic memoir from Europe to the UN’ By David Hannay, International Affairs  Vol.89, No.4 (July 2013), pp.43-44.

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