Dr Ewan Gibbs
- Lecturer in Global Inequalities (Economic & Social History)
I joined the University of Glasgow in 2020 where I contribute to teaching on both the Global Economy and GLOCAL masters programmes as well as the undergraduate Economic and Social History degree. I am presently developing projects based around understanding energy transitions, decarbonisation and connections between fuel sources, arguments for Scottish independence and economic justice. My monograph, Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland, was published by the University of London Press as part of the Instittue of Historical Research and the Royal Historical Society's ‘New Historical Perspectives’ series in 2021. It is available to read on an open access basis. I also recently published research on 'Scotland's faltering green industrial revolution', which critiques successes in renewable electricity generation and failures to achieve the antiicpated industrial benefits this transformation promised.
My research has consistently focussed on the link between long-term economic developments and changes in politics and culture. I was awarded an MA (first class honours) in Economic and Social History from the University of Glasgow before completing a masters in Global Economy (with distinction) and then obtaining a doctorate. My PhD studied deindustrialization and working-class politics in the Scottish coalfields, including an emphasis on collective memory and the long-term consequences of colliery closures. Subsequently, I have developed interests in multinational subsidiaries and energy policy. Through these projects, I have gained expertise in archival research by using the records of government, industry, and the trade union movement as well as ad-hoc physical and digital collections compiled by social movements and campaigning organisations. I also have an established track record of using oral history interviews to understand the enduring significance accorded to work, labour, and industrial closures, and to analyse the construction of 'usable pasts' by heritage activists.
More recently, I have applied these skills to researching the connection between energy politics and arguments for Scottish independence. I am currently completing a project that involves interviewing key informants connected with arguemnts for Scottish independence since the 1960s alongside archival research on political parties, policymaking and relevant trade unions and social movements. As I complete this project I am starting to develop a larger research agenda on decarbonisation and the UK's long movement out of coal since the 1960s. I will engage in a multi-scalar assessment of how global changes in energy markets and UK-wide shifts in policy affected discrete nations and regions and localities, investigating major changes in energy infrastructure. The focus will be on the role of the state and business as well as how labour and environmental poltiics shaped those experiences and what we can learn from them as we face a renewed push towards decarbonisation and acheiving a 'just transition' in the 2020s and 2030s.
My approach to teaching at all levels emphasizes the value of incorporating authentic real-world experiences from diverse student bodies who hold dispersed knowledges and expertise. I also emphasise the value of inclusive group-working and using primary sources and data in teaching. I lectured in social science at the University of the West of Scotland from 2016 to 2020. Whilst there I developed commitments to both interdisciplinary teaching and research. These build on my experience of working with labour heritage groups and developing a secondary school history curriculum in collaboration with colleagues from the school of education. This experienced underlined the value of place-based learning and grounding experiences of global economic changes and questions of economic justice and injustice in case studies that underline international connections to seemingly localised stories.
- 'Just transition' and decarbonisation
- Energy generation and policy
- Industrial politics
- Inward investment and divestment
- Protest and activism
- Oral history
- Heritage and commemoration
- Scottish nationalism
- Radical left and Communist politics
Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (Principal Investigator) Energy Nationalisms: Fuel Economies and Scottish Independence since 1945 (May 2021-May 2022) (grant delayed for a year by COVID-19)
Carnegie Research Incentive Grant (Co-Investiator) 'Tracks' of the Past: How can a Place-Responsive Pedagogy support new understanding of Industrial Heritage and Economic Change via CfE?’ (March 2018-March 2019)
RSE Small Grant award 2017 Energy Policy and Scottish Coalfield Politics (January 2017-December 2017)
I am presently supervising MSc students on the GLOCAL and Global Economy programmes and a doctoral project studying coalfield political identities after deindustrialization.
I was previously part of a PhD supervision for a successfully completed project which studied Glasgow's excess mortality through archival research on UK regional policy and urban regeneration.
I would welcome applications from prospective postgraduate students in the following areas:
-Working-class politics and labour movements.
-Energy and industrial policy.
-Multinational investment and divestment.
-Deindustrialization and its long-term effects.
-Changing labour markets.
-Collective memory and heritage in (de)industrial settings.
-Twentieth-century Scottish political history.
Economic and Social History 1A and 1B
Economic and Social History 2A and 2B
After the Golden Age
Researching Economic and Social History 1
Honours module convening
Scotland since 1914
Contributions to masters modules
Business in the Global Economy
Research affiliations and contribution
Council member Scottish Labour History Society
Founder and contributor to Workers' Stories Project
Founder and contributor to Scottish Critical Heritage
Selected Conference and Seminar Presentations
'(Re)Making Miners and Manufacturing Workers: Generational Experiences of Deindustrialization in the Scottish Coalfields', Reproducing Scotland: Class Oppression and Everyday Life conference, 22 May 2021.
‘Book launch: Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland’, Scottish Oral History Centre, 26 April 2021.
‘Scotland’s Faltering Green Industrial Revolution’, Energy Café, Centre for Energy Ethics, University of St Andrews’, 6 April 2021.
‘Long Waves in Energy History: Competing Fuel Policy Coalitions During Britain’s Long Movement out of Coal-Fired Electricity from the late 1940s to the early 1990s’, Business History Conference, 13 March 2021.
Speaker at ‘Shine a Light on Justice for Miners’, Unite Scotland meeting, 11 March 2021.
Speaker at ‘New Historical Perspectives Book Launch: Coal Country’, Institute of Historical Research, 25 February 2021.
Panellist and organiser at ‘Why do Workers Stories Matter’ held by Workers Stories Collective, 22 October 2020.
'Coal Country: Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland', University of Edinburgh Scottish History seminar, invited speaker, 30th January 2020
'Coal Country: Making Sense of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland', Yunus Centre seminar, invited speaker, 11th December 2019
'Coal Country: The Meaning and Memory of Deindustrialization in Postwar Scotland', Scottish Oral History Centre seminar, invited speaker, University of Strathclyde, 18th November 2019
The Caterpillar Workers Legacy Group: Remembering the Occupation, Mitchell Library, Glasgow, 31st October 2019
Co-organised and panellist, 'Solidarity Beyond Boundaries' panel at Modern British Studies, University of Birmingham, 3rd-5th July 2019
Paper: ''The Unacceptable Face of Labour': Trade Union Solidarity and Division at Caterpillar Tractors, Uddingston c.1960s-1987'
Panel chair and speaker ‘Democracy 101’ conference, UWS Paisley campus, 20th March 2019
Paper: ‘The Double Movement of Industrial Democracy in Scotland since 1918’
Host of dissemination event ‘Tracks of the Past: CfE and Place-Based Education’, UWS Lanarkshire campus, 27th February 2019
''Tracks of the Past': A Place-Based Education Industrial Heritage Project', British Academy Deindustrialisation, Heritage and Memory Network: First Workshop, University of Strathclyde, 28th September 2018
‘Conceptualising Coalfield Deindustrialization: The Territorial and Industrial Governance of Workplace Closure and Labour Market Transition’, invited speaker, Posthumous Conference, Utretcht, 25th May 2018
Introductory speaker and lead organiser, ‘Rethinking Radical Scotland: Cultural and Social Transformation Since 1968’, University of the West of Scotland Paisley Campus, 23rd May 2018
Co-organiser and panellist, ‘(In)visible Stories: An investigation into the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Scotland’ conference, University of the West of Scotland Ayr Campus, 14th May 2018
‘Tracks’ of the Past: How can place-responsive pedagogy support new understandings of Industrial Heritage and major Economic Change?’, Children’s Identity and Citizenship Education Europe Association conference 2018, Warsaw, 12th May 2018 (co-presented with Susan Henderson)
''The Chance Tae Move Anywhere in Britain': Scottish Coalfield Restructuring and Labour Migration c.1947-1974’, 'By the People for the People: The Nationalisation of Coal and Steel Revisited', First Conference of the Coal and Steelworkers’ Study Group, 7th December 2017
Media appearances and articles
'Looking back at the mining history of the Lothians and legacy of pit closures' Edinburgh Live
'The story of the Scottish coal industry's slow death' Sunday National
'Writing working-class history: explorations in 'Coal Country'' On History
'The Calton Weavers, the 1820 Radical War and Scotland's first working-class martyrs' Glasgow Live
I contributed to a section on renewable energy and the 2017 'Battle for BiFab' in The Years That Changed Modern Scotland that was broadcast on the BBC Scotland channel on 26 January 2021.
'Scottish Independence – a Long View' Bella Caledonia
'We’re Still Living in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain' Jacobin
'The last throes of the Red Clydeside traditions' The Scotsman
'The Unmaking of the British Working Class: A Highly Provisional Thesis' New Socialist
'Is Brexit worth Scotland's Independence?' The Atlantic
'The 'Caley' and Scotland's 'Invisible' Workers' Conter
'Remembering Red Clydeside: whose memory is it anyway?' History Workshop
'Coal Culture Wars: (Mis)Understanding the Durham Miners' Gala' Scottish Critical Heritage
I appeared on BBC Reporting Scotland television news on 31st January 2019 discussing the centenary of 'the Battle of George Square' and the forty-hour strike in Glasgow which took place during January and February 1919. The interview was also used on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme the same day. Appeared on BBC Radio Wales' 'Sunday Supplement' programme on 3rd February 2019 to discuss the centenary and class politics in the 1910s.
'100 years on: the day they read the Riot Act as chaos engulfed Glasgow' Guardian
Scotland’s workforce: Where are most Scots employed in 2017? Scotsman
On 1st November 2016, I was interviewed by both BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Reporting Scotland in relation to calls for an inquiry into the policing of the 1984-5 miners' strike in Scotland. This followed the UK government's refusal to hold an inquiry into events at Orgreave on 18th June 1984 the previous day.
Murray Armstrong, The Fight for Scottish Democracy: Rebellion and Reform in 1820 by Murray Armstrong, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 51 (3) (2021), pp. 473-475
Kirsti Bohata, Alexandra Jones, Mike Mantin, Steven Thompson, Disability in industrial Britain: A cultural and literary history of impairment in the coal industry, 1880-1948, Reviews in History (review no. 2428) DOI: 10.14296/RiH/2014/2428