Historian

In my spare time I’m a historian and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Humanities of the University of Glasgow. My main area of interest is integration of immigrants and their descendants into western European societies during the modern era. I’m also a specialist on the subject of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. 

Publications

Here’s a selection of my academic publications in English.

Books

Changes in Attitudes to Immigrants in Britain, 1841-1921. From Foreigner to Alien, London / New York, Anthem Press, 2020.

This book reviews changes in attitudes to immigrants in Britain and the language that was used to put these feelings into words between 1841 and 1921.

Using a historical and linguistic method for an analysis of so far for this purpose relatively unused primary sources, this book offers novel findings.

It has found that changes in the meaning and use of the word ‘alien’ in Britain coincided during the period between 1841 and 1921 with the expression of changing attitudes to immigrants in this country and the modification of the British variant of the English language.

When people in Britain in these years used the term ‘an alien’, they meant, most likely, a foreigner, stranger, refugee or immigrant. In 1841 an alien denoted a foreigner or a stranger, notably a person residing or working in a country who did not have the nationality or citizenship of that country.

However, by 1921 an alien mainly signified an immigrant in Britain – a term, which as this book shows, had in the course of the years since 1841 acquired very negative connotations.

The book concludes that by 1921, in contemporary minds the word alien aroused utter hostility. Alien had first become a byname for immigrants, and then it was turned into a term of abuse, a badge of dishonour and a mark of danger – a comprehensively negative label that could be attached at will or unconsciously at any time to any group of immigrants.

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Front cover image of This Cannot Happen Here.

This cannot happen here. Integration and Jewish resistance in the Netherlands, 1940-1945, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press (Studies of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies), 2013.

This book answers the question whether and how the integration of Jews into Dutch society influenced their resistance to persecution during the German occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War.

In addition to the social position of Jews and group traits that determined Jewish resistance, this study highlights other factors such as individual circumstances that influenced the forms resistance took.

For this purpose, it uses a broad and inclusive definition of Jewish resistance, a specially designed conceptual framework of integration and specific yardsticks to measure the speed and direction of the integration process.

It makes brief international comparisons to bring out what were typically Dutch phenomena and critically engages with the existing literature and biographical material to further the debate about Jewish resistance.

The book is not only the first comprehensive study in English of Jewish resistance in the Netherlands during the Holocaust, but it also offers a new interpretation of Dutch and Jewish history.

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Jews in Glasgow 1879-1939. Immigration and Integration, London, Vallentine Mitchell, 2007.

This book is a case study of Jews from eastern and central Europe who settled in Glasgow between 1879 and 1939.

In individual chapters it looks at aspects of their integration into Scottish society, namely: the reaction of the native population and the Jewish responses; the education of immigrant children; the participation of Jews in the Glasgow economy; their involvement in the political and the arts world; and changes in Jewish organisations, religious habits and lifestyle.

A special chapter is devoted to post-1945 developments, bringing the history of Jews in Glasgow up to the date of publication.

Finally, the book compares the Jewish experience in Glasgow to that of Jews in English cities and to the experience of other immigrants in Glasgow such as the Irish, Italians, Germans and Asians.

Book chapters

“Open Windows: Jewish Refugee Artists in Scotland during the Twentieth Century”, in S. Manz, P. Panayi (eds), Refugees and Cultural Transfer to Britain, London, Routledge, 2013.

“Immigrants”, in T.M. Devine and J. Wormald (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History 1500-2010, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.

Articles

“Living with the enemy: German immigrants in Nottingham during the First World War”, in Midland History, volume 42, 2017.

“The influence of immigration on the growth, urban concentration and composition of the Scottish population 1841-1911”, in Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, volume 32, 2012.

“Open Windows: Jewish Refugee Artists in Scotland during the Twentieth Century”, in Immigrants & Minorities, volume 30, 2012.

“Within Our Gates: A New Perspective on Germans in Glasgow during the First World War”, in Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, volume 29, 2009.

“The trial of Oscar Slater (1909) and anti-Jewish prejudices in Edwardian Glasgow”, in History, volume 88, 2003.