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Dr Madeleine Davis, BA, MA, PhD, (London)

Senior Lecturer

Tel: 020 7882 8596
Location: Arts One, 2.28B


Madeleine  Davis

Office Hours: On sabbatical 2016/17

Madeleine joined Queen Mary in 2000, having taken both her undergraduate degree (in History and Politics) and later PhD here. In between the two she completed an MA at the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS, now part of the Institute for the Study of the Americas) in London, and worked for the UK Home Office and as a researcher at ILAS.

Madeleine’s research area is the history of political thought, and more specifically the development of socialist thought in Britain in the twentieth century. She has a particular interest in the work of intellectuals and activists associated with the post-1956 British New Left, and within SPIR her work spans research clusters in British politics and political theory.  

An active member of two specialist groups of the UK Political Studies Association (the Labour Movements Specialist Group  and Communism Specialist Group Madeleine also serves on the board of the George Lansbury Memorial Trust, and on the editorial board of the Socialist Register. (


Undergraduate teaching:


Research interests:

My major research interest is in the history of socialist political thought in Britain. I have focused especially on the post-1956 British New Left, a current whose key thinkers included E.P. Thompson, John Saville, Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams, Ralph Miliband, Perry Anderson and Tom Nairn.  My research here has various strands. Following my PhD, which was a study of the so called ‘Nairn-Anderson theses’ developed within the journal New Left Review from the early 1960s, I pursued a strand of work examining the specificity of New Left ideas within the British ideological context, and its role in ‘brokering’ new developments in Marxist thought within Britain, as well as the contribution of its thought to a wider critical reworking of Marxist theory. I subsequently became increasingly interested in thinkers and debates associated with the earlier phase of the New Left, and have written on the relationship between the New Left and the Labour Party, on its location within the broader international New Left of the 1960s, and on the contribution New Left thinkers have made to broader debates and problems, for example around post-war British ‘affluence’ and the prospects and possibilities for a class-based socialist politics.  The book I am currently working on, The British New Left and its Legacy, is a synoptic study of the New Left’s political thought and (to some extent) activism, organized around three broad themes: redefining socialism, political organization and theorizing culture. 

An earlier strand of my work, arising from my time at ILAS, focused on the Pinochet case and its implications and effects, especially in terms of securing accountability for past human rights violations in countries that have undergone transitions from authoritarian rule.

I am an active member of two specialist groups of the UK Political Studies Association: the Labour Movements Specialist Group ( and the Communism Specialist Group (  I am a member of the editorial collective of Socialist Register. (



The British New Left and its Legacy (in preparation)

The Pinochet Case: Origins, Progress and Implications (edited book), London, ILAS, 2003, 266pp, ISBN 1900039524

Journal articles:

‘Edward Thompson’s ethics and activism 1956-1963: reflections on the political formation of The Making of the English Working Class’, Contemporary British History, 2014.

 ‘”Causes that were lost”? Fifty years of E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class as contemporary history’ (co-authored with Kevin Morgan): editors’ introduction to special issue of Contemporary British History, 2014.

‘Rethinking class: the lineage of the Socialist Register’ Socialist Register 2014, pp.287-304. Abstract here:

‘New Left anti-communism’: contribution to ‘A century of anti-communisms, a roundtable discussion’, with Gavin Bowd, Madeleine Davis, Paulo Drinot, Dianne Kirby, Carl Levy, and Matthew Worley, Twentieth Century Communism Issue 6 ‘A century of anti-communisms’, March 2014

 ‘Reappraising British socialist humanism’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 2013, 18 (1) pp. 1-25.

‘Can one nation Labour learn from the British New Left?’ guest editorial, Renewal, Vol. 21 No 1, 2013

 ‘Arguing affluence: New Left contributions to the socialist debate 1957-1963Twentieth Century British History, 23, 4 (2012) 496-528.

‘The Marxism of the British New Left’, Journal of Political Ideologies (Vol. 11, No.3 (2006) 335-358.

‘Externalized justice and democratization: lessons from the Pinochet case’ Political Studies Vol.54 No.2 June 2006.

‘Is Spain recovering its memory? Breaking the pacto del olvido’ Human Rights Quarterly 27 (2005).

‘The indictment of Pinochet: pursuing justice in Chile 1973-2003’ Hispanic Research Journal, 5/3, October 2004.

‘Dictators and democrats in Latin America; but can the poor tell the difference?’ Radical Philosophy, 104, November 2000, pp.2-6.

Chapters in edited volumes:

‘The New Reasoner and the early New Left’ in David Howell, Dianne Kirby and Kevin Morgan (eds.) John Saville: commitment and history. Themes from the life and work of a socialist historian (Lawrence and Wishart, 2010) pp.30-50.

‘The Marxism of the British New Left’ in Zhang Liang (ed.) British New Left thinkers (Nanjing, Jiangsu Renmin Press, 2010), pp. 1-32.

‘The origins of the British New Left’ in ’ in M. Klimke and J. Scharloth (eds.) 1968 in Europe: a history of protest and activism 1956-1977, (Palgrave, 2008) pp.45-56.

‘Labourism and the New Left’ in Fielding, S., Ludlam, S., and Callaghan (eds.) Interpreting the Labour Party: Approaches to Labour Politics and History, Manchester, MUP, 2003, pp.39-56

‘The Politics of the Pinochet Case in the UK’ in Davis, M., (ed.) The Pinochet Case, pp.125-144

‘Law and politics in the Pinochet Case’ in Davis, M., (ed.) The Pinochet Case, pp.1-21


'The New Left' in Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (Sage, 2009)

The Pinochet Case, Institute of Latin American Studies Research Paper, No. 53, November 2000, 76pp ISBN 1900039354

Selected recent conference papers:

‘Commencing to reason: reflections on the political formation and early activism of Edward Thompson’, Political Studies Association Annual Conference, 15 April 2014.

‘Edward Thompson’s ethics and activism 1956-1963: reflections on the political formation of The Making of the English Working Class’. Contribution to conference ‘The global EP Thompson: Reflections on The Making of the English Working Class after fifty years, Harvard University, 3-5 October 2013.

Invited lecture series on the New Left at ‘Contemporary Anglo American Marxism’, Summer School, Department of Philosophy, Nanjing University, China, August 2013.

 ‘The New Left and the labour metaphysic’ Socialist Register 2014 workshop, Toronto, February 2013

 ‘New Left anti-communism’, Inaugural conference of the PSA Communism Specialist Group ‘A century of anti-communisms’, 21 September 2012

 ‘The Labour Party and the British New Left’, PSA Labour Movements Specialist Conference, Westminster, 17 June 2012.  

‘Re-appraising British socialist humanism’ PSA Annual Conference, Manchester, April 2009.

 ‘Community, culture and state in the socialism of the New Left’. PSA Labour Movements conference ‘Labour, society and the state in post-war Britain’, University College Oxford, 12 June 2008.

PhD Supervision

I have supervised doctoral work on topics including: ‘Poststructuralist readings of Marx’; ‘Dialectics and critical social theory’; ‘Genesis, development and consequences of post-Marxist critical thought’.

I very much welcome applications from prospective PhD students in any of my areas of interest. I would especially like to hear from students interested in pursuing doctoral study on:

    • the history of socialist thought, especially in Britain;

    • the history, thought and political practice of individuals and movements of the British left, whether Communist, New Left or ‘far left’; 

    • aspects of Marxist political thought, especially but not exclusively in Britain.

Public engagement

Invited public lectures/panel contributions:

‘Ralph Miliband and the Politics of Class Today’: House of Commons, 27 November 2013, with John McDonnell (Chair), Colin Leys, Andrew Murray and Hilary Wainwright.

‘The Socialist Register at 50: Class and Politics in Britain’, at Historical Materialism 10, 9 November 2013, with Colin Leys, Andrew Murray, Leo Panitch, and Greg Albo.

‘The Mayday Manifesto then and now’, with Mike Rustin, launch event for new edition of The May Day Manifesto, Marx Memorial Library, 23 May 2013.

‘John Saville and the New Reasoner’: public panel event to commemorate life and work of John Saville, Bishopsgate Institute, June 2010.

External collaborations

I serve on the Board of the George Lansbury Memorial Trust, which works to promote awareness of the life and work of George Lansbury and the progressive causes with which he was associated. Details of the annual George Lansbury Memorial Lecture here. Text of Jon Cruddas’ inaugural George Lansbury Memorial lecture on 7 November 2013 here

Aside from my academic work I have been actively involved in campaigning for affordable housing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.  See here for a selection of photographs documenting a recent campaign against the sale of keyworker homes in London:

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