Ruth Lawlor

Junior Research Fellow in History, Queens' College
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Dr Ruth Lawlor
I have an MA in History from University College Cork (2016) and received my PhD from Cambridge in 2019. I was a Visiting Researcher at Boston University in 2017 and a Fox International Fellow at Yale in 2018-2019. I am currently a Junior Research Fellow in History at Queens' College.
I am a historian of the United States in the “long twentieth century” (1898-2020), with an interest in gender and sexuality, race, nation, and empire. I am currently writing a book about the transnational politics of sexual violence in World War II. The book is based on my PhD dissertation, which was a finalist for the Oxford University Press Dissertation Prize in International History, awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) in 2020. Provisionally titled Contested Crimes: Rape, Race and U.S. Military Justice in World War II, the book tells the history of European women and black American soldiers who were embroiled in U.S. Army rape trials in Britain, France, and Germany. In connecting the national and the transnational, the book explores the legal and military power of the American state abroad, and the role of race and gender in shaping the nationalisms that emerged in the war’s aftermath, particularly in the United States. Set at a crucial turning point – the moment of America’s rise to global superpower -- the book links existing literatures of American imperialism in the nineteenth century with emerging studies of the United States’ global domination – the empire of bases -- in the twentieth, and connects domestic histories of Jim Crow segregation and sexual violence to the U.S. military’s violence overseas. 
 
My second book builds on this research to consider the history of workers in the post-war archipelago empire; it asks how the law, as it operates through sites like military bases, cemeteries, and prisons, troubles or reconfigures the categories of race and gender that wars themselves often call into question. While many civilians employed in what we might call America’s “other” army of private contractors remain largely unknown to the general public, their work in turn plays an important role in sustaining American militarism, whether through their physical labour or their contributions to empire’s intellectual foundations. This is a labour history of empire in the broadest possible sense: a question of how soldiers, cleaners, lawyers, doctors – Americans and non-Americans alike – are related to the means of production of violence and whether and how they are called upon to deploy that violence on behalf of the state.
I supervise Part I students taking Paper 18: European history since 1890 and Paper 24: the history of the United States from 1865. I also teach a number of the Historical Argument and Practice papers, including race, gender, and international history, and run a class on Reading Foucault for HAP. I have supervised Part II dissertations on a range of subjects in 20th century U.S. and international history, from the American Federation of Labour and the New Deal to the cultural politics of Hollywood films after World War II. I teach an MPhil seminar on gender and sexuality in U.S. history from slavery to the present and am happy to hear from prospective MPhil students working on topics in 20th century cultural and transnational history.
I am a a member of the American Historical Association (AHA), British Association for American Studies (BAAS), Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS), Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), and the Society for Military History (SMH)
I am happy to supervise Part II students writing dissertations on most aspects of twentieth century U.S. history, especially those with an interest in the history of the United States in the world, cultural, social, and legal history, and the U.S. military. Current students are working on dissertations about the black Jewish diaspora in post-war New York, conservative politics in the mid-twentieth century, and masculinity in American popular culture. I also welcome proposals from prospective MPhil students interested in working on war, society, culture or the transnational in the long twentieth century.

Key publications

“The Wartime Battlefield of Sex”, Modern American History (“Take Three” segment) [forthcoming, Spring 2021]

“The Stuttgart Incident: Sexual Violence and the Uses of History”, Diplomatic History [forthcoming, vol. 46, issue 1, Jan. 2022]

“Contested Crimes: Race, Gender, and Nation in GI Histories of Sexual Crime, World War II”, Journal of Military History, Vol. 84 Issue 2, (April, 2020), pp.541-569

Other publications

“Working with Death”, AHA Perspectives, December 15, 2020
 
“When Commemorating D-Day, Don’t Forget the Dark Side of American War Efforts”, Washington Post, June 6, 2019.
 
“How the Trump administration’s Title IX proposals threaten to undo #MeToo”, Washington Post, February 4, 2019