Current/Future research activity

Current research interests:

My new work Going to My Father’s House: A History of My Times draws on the two Field Day Review essays mentioned on the Home page. These are “The Journey West” (2014) and “Time Thickens: the Other West” (2015). This new venture involves a very different kind of writing than my previous work, one that is reflective, part-memoir, more concerned with literary values than before. It is about the spaces of time and memory, about the immigrant, about London and Ireland, and about home and its physical manifestations in the house. It is in part an elegy to an older and now almost vanished rural Ireland and London. It also gives an account of the death of industrial Britain, the geographical north/south axis complementing west/east one. The first essay begins with an account of Koudelka’s photograph on the Home page, which is an image of my west of Ireland kin.

However I am also very much at work on my interests in social and political history (and theory). My current work involve historical approaches to neoliberalism, new readings of state history and state theory, and the development of new forms of political history.


My recent book on the liberal state centres upon Britain, but ranges over other examples, and includes colonial dimensions in the case of India. The book is titled The State of Freedom: A Social History of the British State since 1800, and was published by Cambridge University Press, 2013.  The book draws on a number of disciplinary fields as well as history, and the approach is a fusion of the new materialism and governmentality approaches. It amounts to a new kind of political history. The book concerns the material forms of state formation in the shape of communication systems, in the shape of the history of the British Post Office It also involves consideration of the material and ethical fashioning of bureaucracy, centred upon a major government department, the India Office. This study of bureaucracy extends into work on elite pedagogy in general. This focuses on the content and material forms of education in the public school and the Oxbridge College. The book concludes with a study of the legacies of the liberal state in the 20th century.

My new work involves a collaboration with Chandra Mukerji, UC San Diego, and we are publishing a jointly-authored article in Theory and Society in 2015 or 6 called “The State of Things: Reconfiguring State History and Theory”. This puts forward a materialist reading of the state and of political history in general. It complements the collaboration I had with Tony Bennett in Tony Bennett and Patrick Joyce (eds.), Material Powers: Cultural Studies, History and the Material Turn (Routledge, 2010).


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A lecture by Patrick Joyce, Cultural history and the necessity of the social, University of Padua, 2009 is available on video.

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Update April 2018 IY e-Solutions