- Health and inequality within societies and families
- Mixing quantitative and qualitative methodologies to understand the past
- Hunger and international aid
- The First World War
My current research focuses on the health, hunger, and inequality of civilians during the First World War. I am publishing a book with Oxford University Press ‘Hunger in War and Peace’ as part of their Historical Monograph Series. It is based on my DPhil dissertation which won the Dev Book Prize for the best dissertation in the History of Medicine at Oxford, and was also short-listed for the best doctoral dissertation by the Economic History Society. My article in the Economic History Review (2015) "Hunger games: or how the Allied blockade in the First World War deprived German children of nutrition, and Allied food aid subsequently saved them" was awarded the Alexander Prize from the Royal Historical Society. My book assesses the nutritional status of civilians in Germany from 1914-1924 using a variety of original source material including old anthropometric measurements from school children, scientific studies, maps, institutional reports, internal international aid documents, personal letters, legal reports, newspapers, and diaries. I find that deprivation was severe for some civilians in Germany, but that it varied greatly depending on status: age, gender, social class, and even stratum within families impacted how much people suffered during the War.
Along with Dr Claire Morelon and Professor Sir Hew Strachan, I am leading a Leverhulme-Trust funded International Network called ‘Hunger Draws the Map’. This three-year project traces hunger across Europe and the Ottoman Empire from 1914-1922. A monograph edited by Dr Claire Morelon and myself will be produced at the end of the project, with chapters written by members of the network. Our first workshop was held in Oxford in September 2016, and our next workshop will be held at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives in April 2017.
I am also interested in the creation of multinational institutions focused on international aid in the early 20th century. Analyses of their successes and failures in changing childhood nutritional trajectories can help elucidate best and worst practices, and how these antecedents have helped determine current practices. It appears that some current assumptions on international aid do not have historical support.
Finally, I have continued interest in the South Pacific, where I lived with my family for several years as a small child.