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School of Geography

Dr Claudia Soares


British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2777
Room Number: Geography Building, Room 202


I am a social and cultural historian and historical geographer working on nineteenth and twentieth century histories of Britain. I have a particular interest in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of: the histories and geographies of childhood, youth and the family; the study of home and identity across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; migration, race and empire; health, disability, and wellbeing; poverty, inequality and welfare; material culture; and histories of the emotions.

I joined Queen Mary University of London as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in October 2017, working on a new project entitled 'In care and after care: emotions, institutions, and child welfare in Britain, Australia, and Canada, 1850-1914'. My new project brings a history of emotions perspective to understand children's care experiences, to address the performance of emotion and affect in care provision, and children's individual and collective responses to institutional life. As a transnational project, that draws on 'new' imperial history approaches too, this research will contribute to a growing body of new research that considers the two-way dialogues, circulation, and development of child welfare practices on a global scale.

Academic Background

  • BA in Art History and Visual Culture (University of Manchester);
  • MA in Victorian History (University of Manchester);
  • PhD in History (University of Manchester, supervised by Professor Julie-Marie Strange, Dr Michael Sanders, and Dr Charlotte Wildman)

Since Autumn 2018, I have been a co-convenor of the Life Cycles Seminar that takes place at the Institute of Historical Research at Senate House, London.

Twitter: @claudiajsoares



Research Interests:

Current and past research

My British Academy project (‘In care and after care: emotions, institutions, and child welfare in Britain, Australia and Canada, 1850-1930’) builds on my past work on children's care in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but takes a broader, more global focus. This research draws on ‘new’ imperial history approaches, to explore the transnational circulation of childcare practices during a time when children’s rights and welfare were subjects of rigorous policy development across Britain, Australia and Canada. The project also takes history of emotions approaches to examine children's care experiences, which remains a gap in scholarship to date. A number of peer-reviewed articles, and a monograph are being prepared from this research project.

Previously, I was based at The University of Manchester, where I completed my PhD in the History Department. My thesis focused on ideas of home, family, and belonging for children who spent part of their childhood in a Victorian children's institution. My research used the Waifs and Strays Society as a case study, and drew on social history and material culture approaches to challenge orthodoxies of institutional childhood. I am currently preparing a monograph based on my PhD and on further research undertaken. My research here also concerned the experiences and treatment of female inebriates in institutional spaces in the late nineteenth century. Having previously worked in the third sector for a number of years, I am particularly interested in the long history of the development of children's care and welfare provision more broadly, and present day social work and welfare practices experienced by a number of vulnerable and marginalised groups.

Research grants and prizes

I have a track record of securing grant income to fund the research I undertake. This includes:

  • British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2020). Awarded £239,186.
  • Wellcome Trust Research Bursary (2016) ' Children's wellbeing in the Victorian children's welfare institution'. Awarded £10,000.
  • AHRC full doctoral funding (2010-2013) 'Neither Waif nor Stray: Home, Family, and Belonging in the Victorian Children's Institution'. Awarded £51,796.
  • Royal Historical Society conference grant (2012) to present at the North American Conference on British Studies, Canada. Awarded £450.
  • The Centre for Giving and Philanthropy, Cass University, 'New Researcher Prize' (2013) - conference award for paper presented at Voluntary Action History Society's fifth international conference. Awarded £200.


Peer reviewed journal articles

  • Soares, Claudia, '"What is to be done with him?" Aftercare, friendship and post-institutional experiences in a Victorian children's institution', History Workshop Journal (forthcoming, Spring 2019).
  • Soares, Claudia, 'A "Permanent Environment of Brightness, Warmth, and Homeliness": Domesticity and Authority in a Victorian Children's Institution', Journal of Victorian Culture, (forthcoming, 2018)
  • Soares, Claudia, 'Care and trauma: exhibiting histories of philanthropic childcare practices', Journal of Historical Geography 52, 2 (2016), pp. 100-107
  • Soares, Claudia, 'The Path to Reform? Problematic treatments and patient experience in nineteenth- century female inebriate institutions', Cultural and Social History 12, 3 (2015), pp. 411-429.

Book reviews

  • Soares, Claudia, 'Review of Sibling Relations and the Transformations of European Kinship, 1300-1900', Christopher Johnson and David Warren Sabean (eds.) in Women's History Review 22, 5 (2012), pp. 847-849.

Public Engagement

I am committed to ensuring that my research extends beyond the academic community, through engagement with practitioners and the public. I am dedicated to ensuring that my work is accessible and meaningful for and involves members of these groups more widely.

During my British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, public engagement activities will include a conference/workshop that will bring together academics, practitioners, and the public on themes and issues related to this project, and the design of materials for an exhibition and new learning materials that can be used by children and schools.

Past public engagement events:

  • 2018: 'A fragile grip on life? Loss, hope, and Victorian Childhoods', Panel discussion on child poverty and philanthropy in Victorian London, followed by chamber music performance at the Ragged School Museum - an event open to the public and part of the Being Human Festival, November 2018.
  • 2013: ‘The Domesticity of Children’s Institutional Homes’, Voluntary Action History Society Blog.
  • 2012: ‘Christmas in The Waifs and Strays Society’, Voluntary Action History Society Blog.