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Department of History

Research projects

Current projects

British state prayers, fasts and thanksgivings, 1540s to 1940s

Professor Philip Williamson, Dr Natalie Mears and Professor Stephen Taylor, Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project

For nearly 500 years, from the 1530s to the 2000s, the governments and established churches of the British Isles summoned the nation to special acts of public worship, in times of crisis or celebration. Few of these special acts of national worship have been studied, and their full history has never been investigated. This project is the first extended study of special worship in the British Isles.

History of the Book

The city of Durham has one of the most important and substantial holdings of medieval manuscripts, incunabula, and rare books in Britain. This project includes a range of research projects, lectures, courses and publications.

Traditional authority in South Sudan

 This research focuses on both the continuities and the adaptation of local forms of authority and justice since the mid-nineteenth century, and particularly on the emergence and evolution of institutions for mediating relations with the state, namely the 'chiefs'.

The impact of elections: voting, political behaviour and democracy in sub-Saharan Africa

This research project analyses the chequered history of elections in sub-Saharan Africa. Combining the techniques of history and political science, the project will re- examine the relationship between an individual's experience of elections and their political attitudes and behaviours, and asks why it is that elections work better in some places and times than others.

Preaching Politics: Debating Governance Mosques and Churches in Coastal Kenya

This project brought together a team composed of academics and a group of postgraduate students from Kenya and the UK. This team undertook a trial programme of research on the way that Islam and Christianity were involved in political debates on Kenya’s coast around the time of the 2013 election 


Current Research Fellowships

The History of English Law, 1625-1689

Professor Chris Brooks, Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

Based on original research in printed and manuscript sources in libraries and archives around Britain and the United States, the work aims to provide a pioneering and distinctive account of all aspects of English legal thought and practice during a time of unprecedented political and religious turmoil, whilst also considering the impact of English law in Ireland and Scotland as well as the New World. This research project will culminate in a 350,000-word book on the history of English law between 1625 and 1689, which will be published by Oxford University Press.