I did my graduate work at the University of Saskatchewan and taught there and at the University of Indianapolis before coming to Birmingham. I’ve written several books and articles related to security and intelligence, such as the history of Canadian policing and security, counter-terrorism in the UK since 9/11, and the use of informers by the police and intelligence services. Due to the nature of my work, I’ve appeared extensively in the media, including on BBC Radio and Television, CBC Television and Radio.
I’m interested in supervising MA and PhD students doing topics related to security and intelligence, counter-terrorism, anti-Americanism, and Canadian history and politics.
Counter-terrorism and terrorism
One of my current teaching and research interests relates to counterterrorism and terrorism. My book The British War on Terror: Terrorism and Counterterrorism on the Home Front since 9-11 was published in January 2008. I have also done research related to American counterterrorism policy, specifically the State Department's Rewards for Justice program, the origins of which lie in 1984 and the Reagan administration. This interest emanates from research on state informers that I describe below. I am currently interested in working on a history of domestic British counter-terrorism.
Security and intelligence
In January 2010, my new history of informers was published. Even before September 11, books and popular culture have focused on technology as being the chief threat to civil liberties through state and private surveillance. Lost in the shuffle has been the human factor, namely the reality that some individuals actively assist the state, be it in police forces or intelligence services, by supplying information on others. The book is entitled Snitch!: A History of the Modern Intelligence Informer. My previous work looked at the history of state surveillance in a Canadian context, in particular the spying by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Canadian universities for over eighty years.
Canadian security and intelligence and Canadian studies
In collaboration with Professor Christabelle Sethna of the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa, I am working on a project entitled “Sex Spying” that will investigate state surveillance in Canada of women’s organizations from the 1960s until the 1980s. We are currently under contract by McGill-Queen's University Press to produce a monograph on the topic. Eventually, we hope to broaden this project into a comparative examination of state surveillance of women’s organizations in both Canada and the U.S.
As a Canadian I am, according to historian Frank Underhill, "the first anti-American, the model anti-American, the archetypal anti-American, the ideal anti-American as he exists in the mind of God." Thus, by birth I have an interest in this topic, as I do with the wider nature of Canadian-American relations. Of particular interest to me in terms of research is not just anti-Americanism, but the negative response by some in the United States or elsewhere to criticism of the U.S. I call this anti-Anti-Americanism (© Steve Hewitt) and I am interested in the gendered and ideological nature of this backlash against the backlash.