Patrick Joyce (3)Welcome to this website. I am a  social historian who is also interested in the social sciences. I have an established reputation in the history of class and of power in modern Britain. I am a Honorary Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh, and an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Manchester. Please please feel free to contact me by email at patrickjoyce2@gmail.com or patrick.joyce@manchester.ac.uk, especially if you wish to discuss the experience and history of peasants, my current interest.


Remaining an academic by religious conviction I have in recent years in some measure turned away from purely academic writing towards writing in forms that cross and combine genres. I aspire to write non-fiction literature. I am currently (Jan. 2020) working on a book called Remembering Peasants in which I consider how peasants in advanced western socieites are now being lost to memory after millenia of time as the dominant social group. This is a loss we all share. The writing invokes the Irish peasant past of my forberas but now sets this in the context of the end of the European peasantry, west and east, especially east where the remnants are today to be found. Why should we remember when all else seems to be about forgetting? And how are peasants now curated, for they have been transported from the field to the musuem? Remembering peasants is about the need to remember; what is valuable to remember as we now slide to planetary destuction; and how remembering is now done in European societies. The means of remembering I consider extendbeyond museums to words and images considered generically (in poetry, photography, painting, objects, oral testimony,and so on).


In recent writing I have combined history, memoir,  and photography in my new book called  Going to my Father’s House: A History of My Times. It will be published by Verso, Spring 2021. Parts of this have appeared in Field Day Review as “The Journey West”, in Field Day Review, 10, 2014 and “Time Thickens, Takes on Flesh: The Other West” in  Field Day Review 11, 2015. See on the right for a download of both essays.

In recent years I have been a Moore Fellow at the National University Galway, a Long Room Hub Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow,  and a Fernand Braudel Fellow at the European Research Institute in Florence. Previously I was a Visiting Professor in both sociology and history at the LSE and the Univ. of California Berkeley. The principle areas of academic work I am interested in are: freedom and liberalism; the nature of the state; power and materiality, and class. I  write about the history of power and social relations in Britain and elsewhere from the 18th century onwards.

In 2015-7  with Colin Gordon I organized a study group called “Foucault, political life and history”. The group considered neoliberal and postcolonial governmentalities as well as the history and current state of the political. The group met  at the LSE and the Institute of Historical Research.

Two interviews about my work as an historian, conducted by the Universities of Padua and Bologna Cultural History Centre, 2009, are available on video, “Patrick Joyce. The Politics of History and History of the Political” and “Cultural History and the Necessity of the Social”.

A printed interview 2015, in English, conducted by the Portuguese journal Práticas da História may be had here http://www.praticasdahistoria.pt/en.


“For over thirty years Patrick Joyce has challenged orthodoxies in history and the social sciences. Through his engagements with cultural Marxism, the linguistic turn, Foucault’s work on governmentality, and material culture, his has been a consistently radical voice in the successive debates over the future and politics of social and cultural history since the later 1970s. While his research has ranged widely from the politics of class in Victorian England to the formation of the modern self, it has always shown a preoccupation with liberalism, modernity and the discipline of history. Although his work has concentrated on Britain, its influence has registered widely, not only in Britain and North America, but across much of the world.”

From the conference in honour of Patrick Joyce, Manchester, March 2008 (see the Festschrift, The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Britain Book on the Publications page)

Photo credits: Top: Roger Mayne, Footballer Jumping, Sunny Brindley Road, Harrow Road 1957

Above: Josef Koudelka Ireland 1972:

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The State of Freedom

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Field Day Review

Essays 2014, 2015.

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Material Powers

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Update April 2018 IY e-Solutions