Dr Kevin O'Sullivan

BA Ph.D

Contact Details

Lecturer<Bar/Junior Lecturer
History
School of Humanities
NUI Galway

E: KEVIN.K.OSULLIVAN@nuigalway.ie
 
researcher

Biography

My main research and teaching interests are in international history, especially the areas of empire, globalisation, development, and NGOs. I am particularly interested in how our ideas of the 'West' changed in an era of decolonisation, and how those themes were experienced from its peripheries - in Ireland, Canada and Northern Europe. Those questions are reflected in my teaching at undergraduate (modules on decolonisation, aid, and Ireland in a global context) and postgraduate (NGOs and the making of the twentieth century) levels.

They also find echoes in my research career to date. My first book, Ireland, Africa and the End of Empire: Small State Identity in the Cold War was published in 2012 by Manchester University Press, and I have written on Irish and international history in the Journal of Genocide Research, Irish Historical Studies, Policy & Practice, Irish Studies in International Affairs, and several edited collections. I am currently working on a new book, provisionally titled 'The NGO Moment: the Globalisation of Humanitarianism, 1968-85', that examines the social, ideological, and cultural bases of humanitarianism in the West, including case studies of British, Canadian and Irish NGOs. As part of that project, I organise an international research network titled Non-state humanitarianism: From colonialism to human rights that brings history and historians into conversation with the practical world of humanitarian aid. The network, funded initially by a British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research networking grant, has convened four workshops to date: three hosted by its key academic partners (NUI Galway, University of Birmingham, ZZF Potsdam) and a fourth by one of its NGO collaborators, Save the Children.

In addition to that AHRC grant, my research to date has won funding from the Irish Research Council (New Foundations grant, two postdoctoral fellowships, and a postgraduate studentship), NUI Galway (Millennium Fund), and Trinity College Dublin (postgraduate studentship). I am also currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, where I spent a year as a Marie Curie Fellow (2011-12), and have previously held a Visiting Research Fellowship at Carleton University, Ottawa (2014). Before arriving in Galway in 2012, I was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at UCD School of History and Archives (2009-2011) and completed my PhD at Trinity College Dublin in 2008. In 2011 I was seconded to Irish Aid and the Higher Education Authority to work on their joint 'Programme of Strategic Co-operation Between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes'.

Outside the university context, I am also involved in a number of collaborative activities. In 2012, my interest in the intersections between Irish and international history led me to become a founding member of 'Transnational Ireland', an international research network concerned with exploring the history of modern Ireland using a transnational approach. In the same year I became a committee member of the Voluntary Action History Society  and in 2014 I joined the committee of the Irish Association of Professional Historians. Continuing my interest in public engagement, I am also co-convenor of the cross-sectoral Development Studies Association Ireland Civil Society Study Group; have been involved in academic/practitioner conversations organised by the AHRC, Save the Children, and others; am a member of the International Reference Group for HumanitarianHistory.org; and have appeared on radio on several occasions for Newstalk and RTÉ.
  

Research Interests

Core research interests:
International History; the history of decolonisation; the social, cultural and political legacies of imperialism in Europe; humanitarianism; NGOs; globalisation; contemporary Irish history in a global context.

Current research:
My current research focuses on the history of humanitarianism, aid and development assistance. Having published several articles on different aspects of the official aid system, I am currently working on a new book, provisionally titled 'The NGO Moment: the Globalisation of Humanitarianism, 1968-85', that examines the social, ideological, and cultural bases of humanitarianism in the West, including case studies of British, Canadian and Irish NGOs. Why did this period provide such fertile ground for the emergence of the humanitarian sector? What factors drove its expansion? And what can the NGO experience tell us about the history of globalisation and its impact on Western society?
 

Research Projects

  Project Start Date End Date
Conference: A Peculiar society 01-MAR-15 28-FEB-17
NON STATE HUMANITARIANISM FROM COLONIALISM TO HUMAN RIGHTS KEVIN O SULLIVAN 01-NOV-12 31-JUL-14
Kevin O'Sullivan MF Project 01-OCT-14 31-MAR-17

Books

  Year Publication
(2012) Ireland, Africa and the end of empire: Small state identity in the Cold War, 1955-75.
Kevin O'Sullivan (2012) Ireland, Africa and the end of empire: Small state identity in the Cold War, 1955-75. Manchester: Manchester University Press. [Details]

Edited Books

  Year Publication
(2016) Humanitarianisms in Context: Histories of Non-State Actors, from the Local to the Global - special issue of European Review of History.
O'Sullivan, K; Hilton, M (Ed.). (2016) Humanitarianisms in Context: Histories of Non-State Actors, from the Local to the Global - special issue of European Review of History. Basingstoke: Taylor & Francis. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
(2016) 'Humanitarianisms in context'
O'Sullivan, K,Hilton, M,Fiori, J (2016) 'Humanitarianisms in context'. European Review Of History-Revue Europeenne D Histoire, 23 :1-15 [DOI] [Details]
(2015) 'Between Internationalism and Empire: Ireland, the 'Like-Minded' Group, and the Search for a New International Order, 1974-82'
O'Sullivan, K (2015) 'Between Internationalism and Empire: Ireland, the 'Like-Minded' Group, and the Search for a New International Order, 1974-82'. International History Review, 37 :1083-1101 [DOI] [Details]
(2015) 'The search for justice: NGOs in Britain and Ireland and the New International Economic Order, 1968-82'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2015) 'The search for justice: NGOs in Britain and Ireland and the New International Economic Order, 1968-82'. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, 6 (1):173-187 [Details]
(2014) 'Humanitarian encounters: Biafra, NGOs and imaginings of the Third World in Britain and Ireland, 1967-70'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2014) 'Humanitarian encounters: Biafra, NGOs and imaginings of the Third World in Britain and Ireland, 1967-70'. Journal Of Genocide Research, 16 (2-3):299-315 [Details]
(2013) ''Ah, Ireland, the caring nation': foreign aid and Irish state identity in the long 1970s'
O'Sullivan, K (2013) ''Ah, Ireland, the caring nation': foreign aid and Irish state identity in the long 1970s'. Irish Historical Studies, 38 :476-491 [Details]
(2011) 'History and the development aid debate in the Republic of Ireland'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2011) 'History and the development aid debate in the Republic of Ireland'. Policy And Practice: A Development Education Review, 12 :110-123 [Details]
(2007) 'Biafra to Lomé: The evolution of Irish government policy on official development assistance, 1969-75'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2007) 'Biafra to Lomé: The evolution of Irish government policy on official development assistance, 1969-75'. Irish Studies In International Affairs, 18 :91-107 [Details]

Book Chapters

  Year Publication
(2014) 'A global nervous system: The rise and rise of European humanitarian NGOs'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2014) 'A global nervous system: The rise and rise of European humanitarian NGOs' In: International organizations and development, 1945-1990. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [Details]
(2013) 'EC membership, development aid and Irish foreign policy'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2013) 'EC membership, development aid and Irish foreign policy' In: Saints and sinners: official development aid and its dynamics in a historical and comparative perspective. Oslo: Oslo University Press. [Details]
(2005) 'The cause of nationality is sacred in ... Africa as in Ireland: Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa at the United Nations, 1960-75'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2005) 'The cause of nationality is sacred in ... Africa as in Ireland: Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa at the United Nations, 1960-75' In: Obligations and responsibilities: Ireland at the United Nations, 1955-2005. Dublin: IPA. [Details]

Working Paper

  Year Publication
(2016) Biafra's legacy: NGO humanitarianism and the Nigerian civil war.
Kevin O'Sullivan (2016) Biafra's legacy: NGO humanitarianism and the Nigerian civil war. London: Working Paper [Details]

Other Journals

  Year Publication
(2010) 'Across the gaping earth blasted by hatred: Concern in Bangladesh'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2010) 'Across the gaping earth blasted by hatred: Concern in Bangladesh' History Ireland, 18 (4) :46-49. [Details]
(2006) 'The wind of change: Decolonisation in British West Africa'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2006) 'The wind of change: Decolonisation in British West Africa' History Ireland, 14 (4) :40-45. [Details]

Book Review

  Year Publication
(2016) Calculating Compassion: Humanity and Relief in War, Britain 1870-1914.
O'Sullivan, K (2016) Calculating Compassion: Humanity and Relief in War, Britain 1870-1914. Book Review [DOI] [Details]
(2013) Review of Daniel P. L. Chong, Freedom from poverty: NGOs and human rights praxis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
Kevin O'Sullivan (2013) Review of Daniel P. L. Chong, Freedom from poverty: NGOs and human rights praxis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). Book Review [DOI] [Details]

Reviews

  Year Publication
(2010) Irish diplomatic history in the twenty-first century: After the gold rush.
Kevin O'Sullivan (2010) Irish diplomatic history in the twenty-first century: After the gold rush. Reviews [DOI] [Details]

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2014 Visiting Research Fellowship, Carleton University (Ottawa) Carleton University, Ottawa
2013 PI, 'Sources and Uses of Humanitarian History' Irish Research Council, 'New Foundations' Programme
2013 Co-investigator, International Research Network: 'Non-State Humanitarianism: From Colonialism to Human Rights' British Arts and Humanities Research Council
2011 IRCHSS CARA Postdoctoral Mobility Fellowship Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
2011 Honorary Research Fellowship, University of Birmingham University of Birmingham
2005 IRCHSS Postgraduate scholarship Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
2009 IRCHSS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Professional Associations

  Association Function From / To
Voluntary Action History Society Member 01-JUN-12 /
Irish Association of Professional Historians Member 01-JUN-14 /
Voluntary Action History Society Member 01-DEC-11 /
Irish Historical Society Member /
Development Studies Association of Ireland Member /
Development Studies Association Member /

Committees

  Committee Function From / To
Irish Committee for Historical Sciences Member 01-SEP-15 /
School of Humanities Research Committee Member 01-SEP-13 /
Irish Association for Professional Historians Committee Member (NUI Galway representative) 01-SEP-14 /
International reference group for www.humanitarianhistory.org Member of reference group 20-NOV-12 /

Teaching Interests

Areas of specialisation
History of decolonisation; social, cultural and political legacies of empire; humanitarianism; Ireland and the wider world; construction of modern European identities; history of NGOs.

Areas of interest
Africa since 1870; twentieth century Ireland; globalisation; human rights; Britain since 1945; France since 1945.

Modules Currently Taught:
Undergraduate:
  • HI3100: Brave New World: Globalisation Since 1945 (lectures; final year).
  • HI3114: Decolonisation and its Consequences: Africa, 1957-80 (seminars; final year).
  • HI2100: Ireland in a Global Context, 1922-2002 (lectures; second year).
  • HI2101: Irish identity, 1968-1998 (seminars; second year).

Contribution to team-taught modules:
  • SPA400: Theories/Methodologies: Humanities (seminars; Structured PhD programme).
  • HI503: Historical Debates and Controversies (module co-ordinator; MA in History).
  • HI519: Sources and Resources (module co-ordinator; MA in History).

Current Postgraduate Students (Research)

  Student Degree Type Type
David Kilgannon Doctorate - Ph.D.(Arts) Co-supervisor (1)
Bernadette O Connell Doctorate - Structured Ph.D. in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Supervisor

Internal Collaborators

  Name Description of Collaboration
Internal Collaborators
Member, Geopolitics and Justice research cluster.Member, Conflict, Rights and Security research cluster.Co-organiser, Transnational Encounters: From the Local to the Global priority research area, Moore Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

External Collaborators

  Name Organisation / Institute Country Description of Collaboration
External Collaborators
Professor Matthew Hilton (PI; University of Birmingham), Professor Bertrand Taithe (University of Manchester), Dr Maren Mohring (ZZF Potsdam), Dr Eleanor Davey (Overseas Development Institute, London) - key partners on AHRC-funded 'Non-state humanitarianism: From colonialism to human rights' network.Dr Enda Delaney (University of Edinburgh), Dr Sarah Roddy (University of Manchester), Dr Ciarán O'Neill (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Niall Whelehan (University of Edinburgh), Dr Jonathan Wright (Queen's University Belfast) - co-founding members of the 'Transnational Ireland' research network.Member of two Development Studies Association of Ireland inter-disciplinary study groups: NGO/Civil Society Study Group; Humanitarian Action Study Group.