Professor Gavin Schaffer BA Hons, MPhil, PhD

Professor Gavin Schaffer

Department of History
Professor of British History

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a specialist in race and immigration history and have a particular interest in racial science, race and the media and the history of racial violence. My present research also focuses on constructions of Jewish history and the treatment of minorities in Britain during the Second World War.


  • 2000-2003: PhD History, University of Southampton
  • 1999-2000:  MPhil Twentieth Century British History, University of Birmingham
  • 1996-1999: BA (Hons) Medieval & Modern History, Class 1,  University of Birmingham


I joined the School of History and Cultures as Lecturer in British history in September 2010. At the beginning of my career, I studied for my PhD under the supervision of Tony Kushner at the Parkes Centre for Jewish/Non Jewish Studies at the University of Southampton, where I remain an Honorary Fellow. Prior to joining this department, I worked for seven years as lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Portsmouth.  Before starting my present post as the University of Birmingham’s Director of Postgraduate Studies, I worked for two years as the University’s Director of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.



  • Second year: Jews in Twentieth-Century Britain
  • Third year: Race and Immigration in Twentieth-Century Britain


  • Historical Methods

Postgraduate supervision

I presently supervise four PhD students. I am keen to offer supervision in the following areas:

Racial Science and Eugenics
British Immigration Histories
The History of Race and Racism
Social History of the Second World War
Modern Jewish History
The History of Television
The History of Comedy

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


I am a social and cultural historian specialising in the history of race and immigration in the twentieth century. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which racial ideas have been formulated and disseminated. I have spent several years researching the place of race in science, research which led to my 2008 monograph, Racial Science and British Society. Subsequently, I have written a monograph about racism and the media, looking in detail at television’s attempts to deal with multiculturalism in the 1960s and 1970s. Alongside my work on race, I am also interested in the history of immigrants and minorities, Jewish history, the history of comedy, and the social history of modern warfare, especially the Second World War.


Recent publications


Schaffer, G 2014, The vision of a nation: making multiculturalism on British Television 1960-80. Palgrave Macmillan. <>


Schaffer, G & Nasar, S 2023, 'Black Lives and the ‘Archival Pulse’: The Murder of Neil “Tommy” Marsh and Other Stories', Rethinking History.

Schaffer, G 2023, 'The merits of ‘moral ecumenism’: secularism, suspicion, and Jewish-Christian relations in twentieth-century Britain', Journal of Ecclesastical History.

Nasar, S & Schaffer, G 2019, 'The Poetics of Narrativity: Understanding Trauma, Temporality and Spatiality 40 years after the Birmingham Pub Bombings ', Journal of Social History.

Schaffer, G 2019, 'Zionism, Aliyah, and the Jews of Glasgow: belonging and believing in postwar Britain', Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 267-294.

Schaffer, G & Nasar, S 2018, 'The White Essential Subject: Race, Ethnicity, and the Irish in Postwar Britain ', Contemporary British History, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 209-230.

Schaffer, G 2018, 'The limits of the ‘Liberal imagination’: Britain, broadcasting, and apartheid South Africa, 1948-1994', Past & Present, vol. 240, no. 1, pp. 235–266.

Schaffer, G 2016, 'Fighting Thatcher with comedy: What to do when there is no alternative', Journal of British Studies, vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 374-397.

Schaffer, G 2014, 'Legislating against hatred: Meaning and Motive in Section Six of the Race Relations Act of 1965', Twentieth Century British History, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 251-275.

Schaffer, G 2012, 'Unmasking the 'muscle Jew':the Jewish soldier in British war service, 1899-1945', Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 46, no. 3-4, pp. 375-396.

Schaffer, G 2010, 'Fighting Racism: Black Soldiers and Workers in Britain during the Second World War', Immigrants and Minorities, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 246-265.

Schaffer, G 2010, 'Till Death Us Do Part and the BBC: Racial Politics and the British Working Classes 1965--75', Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 454-477.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Schaffer, G 2023, Listening Very Carefully to 'Allo Allo': British Comedy and the Path to Brexit. in J Pattinson & L Robb (eds), British Humour and the Second World War: ‘Keep Smiling Through’. 1st edn, New Directions in Social and Cultural History, Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 199–215.


Schaffer, G (ed.) 2013, Racializing the Soldier. Routledge, London.


Schaffer, G (ed.) 2012, 'Racializing the soldier: an introduction', Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 46, no. 3-4, pp. 209-213.

View all publications in research portal