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Kenefick, Billy


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Personal profile


My interest in history began when I worked off-shore in the North Sea oil industry during the late 1970s and the 1980s. I wanted to know more about the history of work and workers' responses to the changing nature of industry over time.

I started my degree at the University of Strathclyde in 1987 and from the start I was encouraged to become involved in historical debate and discussion and four years later emerged with a First Class Degree in Economic and Social History. I went onto do postgraduate and while completing this secured a position as lecturer in modern Scottish and British history at the University of Dundee in 1994, and attainted my PhD the following year specialising in maritime labour and social history: a historian of labour who worked on the rigs!

I am now a Senior Lecturer in Modern History and have published widely on Scottish maritime and labour history, the impact of the Great War and the Russian Revolution on the Scottish working class, and Irish and Jewish relations in Scotland from c1870 to present and recent publications include:

  •  Red Scotland! The Rise and Fall of the Radical Left c.1872-1932 (EUP, 2007)
  • “Confronting White Labourism: Socialism, Syndicalism and the role of the Scottish radical left in South Africa before 1914”, International Review of Social History, LV, No 1 (2010)
  • “Labour Politics and the Dundee Working Class, c1895-1936” (co-authored) in James Tomlinson and Christopher A. Whatley (eds) Jute no More. Transforming Dundee (DUP, 2011)
  • ‘An Effervescence of Youth! Female Textile-Workers’ Strike Activity in Dundee 1911 to 1912’, Historical Studies in Industrial Relation (HSIR), 33, 2012, pp. 189-221.
  • ‘The Jews and Irish in Modern Scotland: Anti-Semitism, Sectarianism and Social Mobility’, Immigrants and Minorities. Special Issue: Migrants in Modern Scotland, 31, 2, 2013, pp.189-213.  


I have published widely and maintain a keen research interest in British maritime labour history c.1853-1932; the role of the Irish in emergent national dock unionism in Scotland; the relationship between the Irish and Jewish immigrant communities in Glasgow from the late nineteenth century; and examine the rise of the Independent Labour Party and the growth of the Scottish trade union movement before, during and after the Great War, with a particular focus on labour politics in Dundee between c.1890 and 1936. More recently I have investigated and published on the role of radical Scots in the South African trade union and labour movement before 1914, the activities of female textile workers in Dundee during the ‘Great’ Labour Unrest c.1911-1912, and the impact of the Great War and the Russian Revolution.

The Great War and Russian Revolution has been a major research interest for some time and now and is expanding further – both in terms of teaching and research - in association with the Great War Dundee (GWD) Commemorative Project (also Centenary Partners with Imperial War Museum First World War Centenary Programme).  The GWD group aims to co-ordinate a city-wide approach to the centenary commemoration (2014-2019) of the First World War in Dundee, bringing the community together with the city’s museums, archives, libraries, schools and societies and various programmes from the University of Dundee  through a plan of activities that encourage the broadest possible public participation and collective reminiscence.  This is a unique association and from a history perspective we hope to encourage many of our students here at the University of Dundee to become involved in individual or group research projects, community engagement and if possible work placements with our GWD centenary partners.

I have a keen interests in migration and social history studies which has resulted in two recent successful PhD thesis: 'The English in Scotland, 1945 -2000' - which was published by Edinburgh University Press as Being English in Scotland, (2003) by Murray Watson - and 'Emigration from Scotland to Queensland, 1885 to 1888'. More recently I supervised two PhD theses on 'Scottish Culture and the First World War' and 'The Political History of Women in Scotland c.1918 to the 1960s', and one MLitt thesis 'An Analysis of Scotland's Education Democracy in Higher Education, 1850 to 2000'. I am currently supervising two PhDs on ‘Industrial and political radicalism in Perthshire, c.1870-1929’ and ‘Jewish Identity and Attitudes toward Militarism in Scotland c.1899-1939’, along with one MPhil (by distance learning) on Scottish family history, and one Taught MLitt on ‘The Scottish War Memorial, Buenos Aires: A Re-Affirmation of Scottish Identity in the Argentine Republic?’ I also acted as PhD external examiner for the University of Aberdeen and the University of Strathclyde.  


I am coordinator, lecture and tutor on the Level 1 History module ‘Age of Revolution, 1750 to 1850' (previously our semester one  ‘Core’ history module), and from 2013 will lecture and tutor on the new Level 2 Core History Module ‘The Great War and History: Debates and Perspectives’. I coordinate a Level 4 module ‘Discontent, War and the Impact of Revolution: Scotlandc.1900 to 1922’. This is the one-semester version of a Level 4 Two-Paper (Two Semester) Special Subject ‘Red Scotland/Radical Scotland’ which examines industrial and political radicalism since the 1870s; the 'New Unionism' c.1889-1897; the rise of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the growth of Scottish Trade unionism from c.1900 the cases and impact of the ‘Great’ Labour Unrest, 1910-1914; the impact of the Great War and the Russian Revolution on Scottish society; through to Labour’s political breakthrough in 1922 and the decline of Scottish radical left by the early 1930s. 

I also co-coordinate a Level 3 Honours module 'The Scottish Soldier: Image and Reality, c.1870 to 1922’ with my colleague Dr Derek Patrick. This module will be replaced in 2014-2015 by a new Level 3 module ‘Britain and War: The South African War and the First World War’. The following year a new Level 4 Two-Paper Special Subject module ‘Dundee: A City at War’ examines the impact of the Great War from a micro-history perspective. These modules represent an ongoing research interest and will develop alongside the Great War Dundee Commemorative Project (see under Research).   


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