Graham, Matt

Dr, Senior Lecturer in History

  • Senior Lecturer (Teaching and Research), Humanities

Research activity per year

Personal profile


I joined the University of Dundee in 2012 as a lecturer in History, having completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield (2008-2011).

I am a historian of modern Africa, with a particular focus on South Africa. My core research interests include: national liberation movements; nationalism; the 'invention' of traditions; political transitions; and the development of post-colonial governance.

In 2013, I became a Research Associate at the International Studies Group (ISG), at the University of the Free State in South Africa, a position I still hold. This honorary position provides me with a role within a South African university, the ability to work closely with academics in the country, to access resources for my research, and to maintain close links between our universities. The ties that I have with the University of the Free State were further cemented with the award of a British Academy Newton Fellowship in 2017.

My undergraduate teaching focuses on Twentieth Century Africa and the major political developments on the continent after World War II. I currently offer an introductory course on African history at Level 3, and a specific case study of South Africa at Level 4. I ensure that a range of innovative teaching activities (such as Wikis) and assignments (including Podcasts) are used in these modules, while primary sources are incorporated into all of my teaching to enhance the student experience.  

I am currently the Senior Admissions Officer for the School of Humanities.



A core part of my most recent research was completing a single-authored book on the African continent: Contemporary Africa. This book was written for those wanting to learn more about the continent, and to help explain one of the most misunderstood regions in the world. In an engaging and accessible fashion, through the use of multiple examples and case-studies from across the continent, the book provides a short and clear introduction into contemporary Africa’s social, economic, political, and cultural composition. The book offers a lively assessment of key issues regarding the continent addressing themes such as African nationalism, decolonisation, the causes of conflict, and economic progress, as well as providing informative insights and analysis into topics including social movements, film, literature, and the diaspora. The book offers a concise, informative and fascinating account of this vibrant continent.

The next core research project will be on South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, in which I seek to explore further (based on previous research) the events and activities of the process and some of its political and societal outcomes. In doing so, I wish to provide further insights into this previously neglected period and to also chart the ways in which the transition continues to affect post-apartheid South Africa in a number of spheres. One way of contextualising these themes is through that of a long-transition, and moving away from the narrow, traditionally defined confines of the 1990-1994 period.   

Past research projects have included a focus on Southern Africa’s former national liberation movements, and the ways in which the concept of a collective, regional solidarity in the struggle against white minority rule was created and perpetuated. With a particular focus on the African National Congress (ANC), this research explored the role of ‘liberation solidarity’ and the ways in which the historical record and the realities of exile have been subsumed to serve current political demands. I aimed to look beyond the collective amnesia of the regions’ movements, by exploring how the ‘official’ narrative has been constructed and trying to delve into the self-serving ‘myths’ propagated by these parties. Moreover, I have also published on the collective efforts of South Africa’s liberation movements to establish a unified opposition to apartheid in the early 1960s, with a particular focus on South Africa’s role within the Commonwealth. This research demonstrated the various initiatives that were pursued through the South Africa United Front from 1960-62, and how these were closely intertwined the rise of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. 

I have also carried out previous research on the foreign policy of the ANC and its foreign policy, charting the continuities and discontinuities of its policies from exiled liberation movement to governing political party, 1960-2007. The core pivot of this project revolved around the transition process by exploring the opportunities and constraints this process had not only on the ANC, but also the post-apartheid government. In doing so, I sought to convey how the ANC created and developed its foreign policy ideals, not only against the experiences of exile, its hopes for the future, but also the constraints and influences of the transition process itself, as well as actors such as the apartheid era civil service and western governments.




HU11001: Human Futures 

HU12001: The Globalising World (convener: 2012-14 & 2015-17) 

EU11001:  Europe: Space, Time, and People

HY21004: Imperialism and Decolonisation, 1850-2000 (co-convener)

HY32035:  Contemporary African History (convener)

HY31029:  Making History: Issues in the study of the past

HY41053:  Modern South Africa: Apartheid, African Liberation Struggles, and democracy (convener)    

HY42049:  Film and History  


HY51027:  Global Empires (convener)

HY52006:  History Skills and Sources

HY51045:  Public History

HY52031:  Documenting Dissent: Protest, and Social Justice in the 20th Century

Matt was the 2015 winner of a CASS Teaching & Good Practice Award in the category Early Career Lecturer, and a 2014 winner of a DUSA Student Led Teaching Award in the category Best Teacher for Assessment and Feedback. He has also been nominated for various teaching awards including the School of Humanities, Jim Stewart Tutor of the Year Award (2016/17 & 2017/18), and DUSA’s SLTA for Most Inspirational Teaching (2016/17) and Best Assessment and Feedback (2015/16 & 2018/19).


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The evolution of the ANC’s foreign policy towards Southern Africa, 1960-1999, University of Sheffield

Award Date: 1 Jan 2011

Master of Arts, Covert Collusion? South African and American relations in the Angolan Civil War 1974-1976, University of Sheffield

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007

Bachelor of Arts, University of Sheffield

Award Date: 1 Jan 2006

External positions

Research Associate at the International Studies Group (ISG) , University of The Free State

2012 → …


  • DT Africa
  • post-colonialism
  • national liberation struggles
  • Cold War
  • African National Congress
  • South Africa
  • foreign policy
  • democratic transitions
  • apartheid
  • Southern Africa
  • Africa
  • ANC
  • anti-apartheid


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