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Lewis Defrates

Lewis Defrates

PhD Candidate in American History


I received my BA in History from the University of Warwick, with an emphasis on modern social, cultural and intellectual history. I studied for an MA at Durham University, where my dissertation focused on a series of association football tours from British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean to the metropole in the 1950’s. I received the Michie Prize for the best MA Dissertation in my department for this piece of work. 

My PhD looks to explore the transatlantic mobility of a variety of performers, athletes and other cultural actors from the United States to the United Kingdom in the period between the end of Reconstruction and the start of the Great War. As well as looking at the broad theme of ‘Americanization’ and its counternarratives, I am particularly interested in how intersections of race, gender and class affected these movements. I am primarily looking at the role of these movements in the construction of identity from an American perspective, focusing on the role of travel and performance in defining a national self. More broadly, I am interested in transnational space and discourses of the body, using these as prisms to explore the gap between who is a national citzen and what is culturally constituted as national. I am supervised by Gary Gerstle.


Research Interests

I am interested in transnational space and discourses of the body, and want to explore the role of these concepts in developing understandings of the world around us. I am also interested in food, sport and the cultures of Empire. I am passionate about accessibility to history and academia in general. I also like Millwall Football Club.


  • American History

Key Publications

‘Five goals, no boots’: an interrogation of the politics, play and racialized athleticism of late colonial football tours to England, 1949-1959’, Sport in History, 38 (4): 476-506.