Professor Gavin Schaffer BA Hons, MPhil, PhD

Professor Gavin Schaffer

Department of History
Professor of British History
Director of Postgraduate Studies

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.


Authored books

  • Gavin Schaffer, The Vision of a Nation:  Making Multiculturalism on British Television, 1960-80 (Basingstoke and New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).  ISBN:  (Hardback:  978-0230292970, Paperback: 978-0230292987)
  • Gavin Schaffer, Racial Science and British Society 1930-62, (Basingstoke and New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).  ISBN:  978-0-230-00892-2

Edited books

  • Gavin Schaffer (ed), Racialising the Soldier (Abingdon and New York:  Routledge, 2013).  ISBN: 978-0-415-62617-0
  • Monica Riera and Gavin Schaffer (eds), The Lasting War:  Society and Identity in Britain, France and Germany after 1945, (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).  ISBN 978-0-230-50671-8

Journal articles

  • ‘Legislating Against Hatred:  Meaning and Motive in Section Six of the Race Relations Act of 1965’, Twentieth Century British History, Vol 25, No 2, 2014, DOI: 10.1093/tcbh/hws053

  • ‘UnMasking the “Muscle Jew”:  the Jewish Solder in British War Service, 1899-1945’, Patterns of Prejudice, Vol:46, No 3-4, 2012, DOI: 10.1080/0031322X.2012.701809
  • 'Dilemmas of Jewish Difference:  Reflections on Contemporary Research into Jewish Origins and Types from an Anglo-Jewish Historial Perspective', Jewish Culture and History, Vol 12: Nos 1 & 2, 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, 2010.  DOI: 10.1177/0022009409356914
  • ‘Fighting Racism:  Black Soldiers and Workers in Britain during the Second World War’, Immigrants and Minorities, 28, 2-3, 2010. DOI: 10.1080/02619288.2010.484250.
  • 'Assets or "aliens"?  Race Science and the Analysis of Jewish Intelligence in Interwar Britain', Patterns of Prejudice, vol: 42. No:2, 2008.  ISSN 0031-322X, DOI: 10.1080/00313220801995974.
  • '"Scientific Racism Again? Reginald Gates, Mankind Quarterly and the Question of "Race" in Science after the Second World War', Journal of American Studies, 2007, Dec, 41, 2, pp253-278, ISSN 0021-8758, DOI 1O1O17/SOO21875807003477 
  • 'Re-Thinking the History of Blame: British Policy and Attitudes towards Immigrants and Minorities During the Second World War', National Identities, 2006, Dec, 8, 4, pp401-420, ISSN 1460-8944, DOI 10.1080/14608940601053600 
  • 'Fighting Battles with History: The Novelist Louis Golding and the Story of the "Doomington Wanderer"', Immigrants and Minorities, 2006, Mar, 24, 1, pp74-99,  ISSN 1744-0521, DOI 10.1080/02619280600590266 
  • '"Like a Baby with a Box of Matches"  British Scientists and the Concept of Race in the Interwar Period', British Journal of the History of Science, 2005, Sept, 38, 3,  pp307-324, ISSN 0007-0874, DOI 10.1017/S0007087405006990.

Book chapters

  • ‘Race on the Television:  The Writing of Johnny Speight in the 1970s’ in L. Forster and S. Harper, British Culture and Society in the 1970s:  the Lost Decade, (Newcastle:  Cambridge Scholars, 2010), ISBN: 978-1-4438-1734-9.
  • ‘Een angstvallig gekoesterde overwinning. De herdenking van de oorlog in Groot-Brittannië sinds 1945’, (trans: 'An Anxiously Cherished Victory: Remembering the War in Britain since 1945') in Frank van Vree en Rob van der Laarse, (eds),  De dynamiek van de herinnering : Nederland en de Tweede Wereldoorlog in een internationale context, (trans: 'The Dynamics of Remembering: The Netherlands and the Second World War in an International Context),  (Amsterdam : Bakker, 2009)
  • ‘Writing Back:  deconstructing the idea of race in Interwar Jewish responses to Prejudice in Britain’ in S. Marten-Finnis and M. Winkler, (eds), Presse und Stadt, (Bremen:  edition lumière, 2009).  ISBN:  978-3934686618
  • 'Perverts and Purists:  the Idea of Jewish Sexual Difference in Britain 1900-45' in N. Abrams, (ed.) Jews and Sex, (Nottingham:  Five Leaves, 2008).  ISBN:  978-1-905512-34-8
  • W Ugolini and G Schaffer, 'Victims or Enemies? Italians, Refugee Jews and the Re-Working of Internment Narratives in Post-War Britain', in M Riera and G Schaffer, (eds), The Lasting War:  Society and Identity in Britain, France and Germany after 1945.  ISBN 978-0-230-50671-

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