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Dr Tom Cordiner

Dr Tom Cordiner
Queens' College
Silver Street

Cambridge CB3 9ET


I trained as a historian here at Cambridge and now teach at Queens' College. I was previously a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia and a Fellow at the Kluge Center, Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

In addition to my position at Queens', I serve as Director of Studies for all historians at Hughes Hall.

Subject groups/Research projects

Modern British History:

Departments and Institutes

Queens' College:

Research Interests

I am principally a historian of modern Britain, though much of my research over several years has been concerned with Israel/Palestine and various aspects of Jewish/Middle East history. I am also interested in the history of cities in comparative perspective.

  • Modern British history

I research and teach across most aspects of the political, cultural and intellectual history of Britain and the British Empire c.1900 to the present. Generally my work focuses on the period since 1945 and, while broadly "political" in character, particular interests include race, immigration, and religion.

  • Zionism and Israel/Palestine

My primary research project straddles my interests in British and Jewish/Middle East history. Specifically, I am extending the scope of my earlier work on Zionism and British political culture since 1945. My principal argument is that the extensive literature on Britain and Israel/Palestine is flawed by a persistent confusion between attitudes to Jews and attitudes to Zionism. My work has tried to sort out this confusion by putting the question of Israel/Palestine back into other relevant contexts apart from anti- and philosemitism.

  • London and New York City

I am currently working on a new study of the social unrest that occurred in Brixton (south London) in April 1981 and the connections between those events and Thatcherism, Imperial legacy and race/class in late 20th century London. I am also interested in the comparative history of London (where I was born) and New York City (where I now think of as "home").

Research Supervision

I have previously supervised and examined theses on modern British and Jewish/Middle East history topics; I would be particularly keen to hear from undergraduates with proposals for Part II dissertations in these areas.

I am available to supervise M.Phil. dissertations, including for the new M.Phil. in Modern British History. Prospective students are encouraged to email me their research proposals for further discussion.

From 2015, I will also be supervising dissertations for the M.St. in History.

Current Part II dissertation students are working on: the history of libertarianism in postwar Britain; immigration and citizenship in Thatcher's Britain; counter-culture in New York City in the from the late 1950s to early 1970s; Churchill and the Holocaust; Thatcher and the 1985 Riots in north London; Anglo-American conservatism in the 1980s; multiculturalism in Leicester since the 1970s; the Conservative Party in opposition between 1997 and 2010; British attitudes towards the Palestinians in the 1970s and 80s.

Part II or M.Phil. dissertations recently supervised have dealt with topics as diverse as Manchester youth culture in the 1980s/90s; black radicalism in 1970s London; international media coverage of the Six-Day War of 1967; the experience of South Asian women in Yorkshire, 1960-1980; depicitions of class in postwar electioneering; Jewish-Muslim relations in Vichy France (co-supervised with MML colleague); the miners' strike of 1984 in Kent; memories of the Korean War in Britain; sexuality and religion in 1980s Britain; Margaret Thatcher and policy towards Apartheid South Africa; Anglo-Canadian relations 1961-1982; Thatcher's relationship with Mary Whitehouse and debates about morality, taste, and obscenity in the 1980s.


  • British political history since 1880 (Part I, Paper 6)
  • British social and economic history since c.1880 (Part I, Paper 11)
  • Historical Argument and Practice (Various seminars, including "What is history?", "Religion", and "Race and ethnicity".)

Other Professional Activities

I am an Associate of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at the University of London; the Institute's work emphasizes that the study of antisemitism is vital to understanding racism, religious intolerance and xenophobia more broadly.

I play a supporting role to Professor Mandler and other Cambridge colleagues in the New York-Cambridge Training Collaboration (NYCTC):  Since 2015 PhD students in 20th-century British history have had the opportunity to participate in a Cambridge-New York training collaboration, in association with Susan Pedersen of Columbia University and Guy Ortolano of New York University.   NYCTC workshops have so far been held at Columbia and Cambridge and NYCTC3 runs in September '16 at NYU.


  • International History
  • Imperial History
  • Modern British History