Bertrand Taithe

Bertrand Taithe


Personal profile


Born in France (Montpellier) I studied in Montpellier and later at the Sorbonne with professor François Crouzet before moving to Manchester to obtain my PhD. I held my Wellcome postdoctoral fellowship in Manchester at the Centre for the History of Science Technology and Medicine and then moved across the Pennines to lecture in the history department of the University of Huddersfield. I have been working at the University of Manchester since 2000. I have been editor of the European Review of History- revue europeenne d'histoire since 1994. I have chaired the editorial committee of Manchester University Press for a number of years and I now edit two book series: Cultural History of Modern War and Humanitarianism Key Debates and New Approaches as well as the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

Since 2009 I have been a founding member and executive director of the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute ( which combines the research interests of colleagues in the humanities and opens a dialogue with humanitarian workers and medical practitioners. See the HCRI website for further details

Research interests

After an ESRC funded research project on charity in Victorian Britain with Dr Julie-Marie Strange and Dr Sarah Roddy and a reseacrh project on UN security data with Professor Roger MacGinty (HCRI), I am currently working with Dr Larissa Fast and other colleagues on a project on attacks on Healthcare: RIAH. I am glad to be collaborating with Laure Humbert on her AHRC award and I am leading two projects on humanitarian handicrafts and on humanitarian exhibitions with Rebecca Gill, Claire Barber, Helen Dampier and Sébastien Farré and Jean-François Fayet. 

My next monograph netitled The Humanitarians a cultural History will be a history of humanitarian practices and technologies.  My research interests are primarily on humanitarianism and humanitarian aid practices.  A co-founder of the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute ( I am interested in the history of medicine, the history of missions and colonisation in the French colonial empire between the Second Empire and 1939 and the history of humanitarian aid more widely defined.  


My research began with Henry Mayhew and London Labour and the London Poor.   I then moved on to study the history of medicine and war.  My first monograph, devoted to the history of Paris during the sieges, was consistent with my earlier work on urban representations and invited a reflection on the history of modernity and the city. Through my interdisciplinary work as a teacher we embarked on a collective venture on the Arcades Project work of Walter Benjamin. Our project, published as Benjamin's Arcades an Unguided Tour represented the congruence of our research interests in a given moment in the history of ideas.

A salient feature of this work, namely the history of humanitarianism has now been my central concern since 1999.  It is a broad theme covering the nexus of humanitarianism and war over a long period of at least 130 years, and for the later period médecins sans frontières.  



Supervision information

Current supervisions

Supervision areas:

I am very interested in supervising students working on the history of humanitarian aid, French and British cultural history, the history of war and medicine, humanitarianism, French colonial history or the history of 'social explorers' in France and Britain. Please contact me if you have any research plans.

Ongoing supervisions

 . Juliano Fiori, on the history of ideas and the history of humanitarian aid.

. Phoebe Shambaugh, on education and futurity in refugee camps

. Hanna Matt, on humanitarianism in Soviet Russia


Previous supervisees:

  1. 1998-2001, Robert Ellis (Huddersfield), 'A field of Practice of a mere house of detention?', Dr Ellis is a Lecturer at the University of Huddersfield. The thesis has since been published as a monograph

  2. 2001-2005 - Rebecca Gill, on Humanitarianism in Britain 1870-1914.  Dr Gill is a lecturer at the University of Huddersfield. The thesis has since been published as a monograph, AHRC funded. 

  3. 2001-2008 Peter Wadsworth, Strawberry Recording Studios and the development of recording studios in Britain c. 1967-93 Dr Wadsworth is working at the John Rylands University Library. The thesis led to a permanent exhibition in Stockport museum.

  4. 2002-2006 Sarah Britton, Narration, Performance, Resistance: Showcasing Nation and Empire in British Interwar Exhibitions '  Dr Britton now works at Coventry university. ESRC funded.

  5. 2002- 2006 John Strachan, Reshaping the mythologies of Frenchness: Culture, history and identity in European Algeria 1870-1930 Dr Strachan is a Lecturer at the University of Lancaster.  AHRC funded.

  6. 2003-2007  Charlie Wildman, The'spectacle'of interwar Manchester and Liverpool: urban fantasies, consumer cultures and gendered identities; Dr Wildman is Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester. The thesis has since been published as a monograph. AHRC funded.

  7. 2003-2008  Naomi Sweeney-Breen,  'Representations of Masculine failure in British pedagogical writings 1945-1990' co-supervised with Dr Strange, 

  8. 2004-2008  Katherine Davies, Three voices of the interwar French Catholic revival: Jacques Maritain, Charles du Bos and Gabriel Marcel and the tensions of reconciliation with the world co-supervised with Prof Stuart Jones, 

  9. 2005-2008  James Mansell,  Sounds modern: perils and possibilities in the audible metropolis, 1889-1939 Dr Mansell is Senior Lecturer at the university of Nottingham.  The thesis has since been published as a monograph. 

  10. 2005-2009  Lucie Matthew-Jones, 'Religious spaces in the Settlement movement' Dr Matthew Jones is Senior Lecturer at the university of Liverpool John Moores. ESRC funded.

  11. 2004-11 Catherine Feely 'Karl Marx, Capital and Radical Book Cultures in Britain, 1881-1945', Dr Feely is a lecturer at the University of Derby.

  12. 2007-11 Tom White, 'Their Whiteness is not like ours', co-supervised with Dr Carden-Coyne. Dr White works for the National Archives. AHRC funded.

  13. 2007-11 Bob Nicholson, 'representations of America in the British press', co-supervised with Dr Strange, Dr Nicholson is reader at the university of Edge Hill. 

  14. 2009-2012, Tom Scriven, 'Activism and the Everyday: The Practices of Radical Working-Class Politics, 1830-1842' co-supervised with Dr  Strange. 

  15. 2006-2012, Duncan Hay, Form, Space and Memory: Material Readings of Iain Sinclair's London Writing', co supervised with Dr Caselli (English), 

  16. 2009-2013, David Woodbridge, Missionary Primitivism and Chinese Modernity: the Brethren in Twentieth-Century China co-supervised with Dr Zheng. Dr Woodbridge is currently working for the National Archives. The thesis has since been published as a monograph by Brill. 

  17. 2009-2014 Tom Sharp, The International Possibilities of Insurgency and Statehood in Africa: The UPC and Cameroon, 1948-1971,  ' co-supervised with Dr S. Pierce. AHRC funded.

  18. 2010-2013 , Luke Kelly, 'Quakers and missionary work in Russia' co-supervised with Prof P. Gatrell,  2010. Dr Kelly is currently lecturing at the university of Manchester. 

  19. 2010-2014, Ravi Hensman, Fantasies of State Power? French Banlieues and the Boundaries of Modernity, 1955-1973 , co-supervised with Dr L Jerram. University funded.

  20.   2011-15, Jessica Field, 'Charity fundraising technologies' co-supervised with Dr Jonathan Darling, Dr Field is a Lecturer UCL. 

  21.   2011-15, Sarah Wood, Tensions of Development and Negotiations of Identity at the Periphery of France: Guyane Française since 1946. Dr Wood is lecturing at the university of Connecticut

  22.   2013-15Fernanda Falero, On Ebola in the Humanitarian sectors (MPhil). Fernanda Falero currently works for WHO in Geneva.

  23.   2012-6, Sean Irving Friedrich Hayek: AN Unrepentant Old Whig,   co-supervised with Prof S. Jones. The thesis is forthcoming as a monograph. AHRC funded. Sean Irving is lecturer at UEA.

  24.   2013-7Vicky Biggs (with Alison Jeffers) on Children narratives in the West Bank. Dr Biggs currently lectures at the university of Sheffield. 

  25.   2014-18 Katherzina Nowack, with Peter Gatrell, The experience of Polish Refugees in post 45 refugee camps. 

  26.   2015- 2018 Talita Cetinoglu, with Eleanor Davey, ‘The history and practices of humanitarian Programming’ (viva 5 December 2018). HCRI funded. Talita is now lecturer in Groningen.

  27.  2016-2019 Louise Tomkow, with Rubina Jasani, ‘Frailty among refugees in the UK.’ MRC funded. Louise is now NIHR clinical lecturer in HCRI.

  28.    2015-2019 Jennifer Chapman, with Eleanor Davey ‘The British Foreign Medical Teams in Humanitarian interventions, 1988-2015’. 

  29.   2016-2019 Becky Viney-Wood, with Peter Gatrell, ‘The shaping of Humanitarian Identity: Humanitarian practices of identification since 1918’.  Becky is Policy Officer at Shared Lives  



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 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Areas of expertise

  • DC France

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute
  • Creative Manchester


  • Humanitarian
  • History of Medicine
  • French History


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