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Bethan Johnson

Bethan Johnson

Bethan Johnson is available for consultancy.

Newnham College
University of Cambridge



I am a Vice-Chancellorship Scholar and PhD candidate under the supervision of Professor Eugenio Biagini. My thesis explores the history of post-war Welsh militant radicalism. Building upon recently-released court documents from the trials of Welsh radicals, the thesis seeks to unsettle the historiographical narratives advanced about Welsh nationalism that characterise it as either entirely non-violent or non-existent. The work will analyse the origins and actions of Welsh militant radical groups, chart its ideological and literal ties to Irish republicanism and other violent nationalist movements across the West, and consider why Welsh independence activism now expresses itself through exclusively non-violent, constitutional methods.

My dissertation, completed at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Peter Mandler and entitled 'Lady LLanover's Welsh heritage project, 1834-1896,' examined the mythology surrounding one of Welsh cultural history's leading icons, Augusta Hall. Employing a chronological technique, the dissertation dissected both the various elements of her cultural preservation work and the British government's administration of Wales. In doing so, it revealed that her heritage work was responsive to trends in popular opinion about position of Wales in Great Britain. The dissertation concluded, in opposition to the prevailing historiography, that Lady Llanover engaged in cultural-preservationist activism in order to subvert a perceived growing tide of political nationalism in nineteenth-century Wales.

My undergraduate thesis, supervised by Professor Lydia Murdoch at Vassar College, evaluated the economic and social causes for aberrant voting patterns in specific South Wales communities in the interwar period. Placing author-conducted oral histories with septuagenarians and octogenarians about the life and politics of these communities in dialogue with polling results and economic demographic surveys, the work argued that long-held socio-cultural factors, exacerbated by economic inequality with England, precipitated these electoral outcomes. The thesis won the 'Sophia H. Chen Zen Book Prize' for best thesis in history.

Additionally, I graduated with degrees in English and Jewish Studies from Vassar College. Under the guidance of Professor Andrew Bush, my Jewish Studies thesis was an interactive, intellectual art installation entitled 'Packing My Library: A Response to Walter Benjamin's Unpacking My Library.'

Research Interests

  • Modern Welsh history
  • Pan-Celticism
  • Militant nationalism
  • Cultural memory and national identity
  • Oral History

Other Professional Activities


  • Co-MPhil representative for the Modern British History cohort, University of Cambridge (Fall 2016-Spring 2017).
  • Co-convenor of 'Women Against Rape: a panel discussion to mark 40 years of the group Women Against Rape and 25 years of the Black Women's Rape Action Project', University of Cambridge (Spring 2017).


  • Member of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion
  • Member of the Oral History Society
  • Member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society
  • Member of the New York-Cambridge Training Collaboration group


  • British social history c.1600-1850
  • Modern British History