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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Madeleine Davis, BA, MA, PhD, (London)


Reader in Politics

Telephone: 020 7882 8596
Room Number: ArtsOne, 2.29A
Office Hours: Tuesday 11:30-12:30 and Wednesday 11:00-12:00 (in person, or email for online appointment).


Madeleine’s main research interest is in the history of the left in Britain, with a focus on the development of socialist political thought in the mid to late twentieth century. She has a particular interest in the work of intellectuals and activists associated with the post-1956 British New Left, as well as some aspects of communist and labour history. Madeleine completed both her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of London. She joined Queen Mary as a lecturer in 2000, shortly after completing her PhD.

Madeleine is a member of the editorial collective of Socialist Register, and of the advisory board of Soundings.  She is an associate of the Raphael Samuel History Centre (RSHC) and is a member of two specialist groups of the UK Political Studies Association, the Labour Movements Specialist Group, and Left Radicalism Specialist Group.  

Undergraduate Teaching

POL368 Socialist Political Thought (Level 6)

POL110 Thinking Politically (Level 4)

On research leave Semester B.


Research Interests:

My major research interest is in the history of the radical and socialist left in Britain. I have focused especially on the post-1956 British New Left, an activist and intellectual current whose best-known thinkers included E.P. Thompson, John Saville, Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams, Ralph Miliband, Perry Anderson and Tom Nairn. Following my PhD, a study of the ‘Nairn-Anderson theses’ developed within the journal New Left Review from the early 1960s, I pursued work examining the specificity of New Left ideas within the British ideological context, and its role in ‘brokering’ new developments in Marxist thought within Britain, as well as the contribution of its thought to a wider critical reworking of Marxist theory. I have written on the New Left’s relationship to pre-existing British communism; on the relationship between the New Left and the Labour Party; on its location within the broader international New Left of the 1960s, and on the somewhat neglected contribution New Left thinkers have made to broader developments in British political thought, for example their challenge to Croslandite revisionism. I have published several pieces on the ideas and activism of Edward Thompson.

Current projects:

Activist histories of the British New Left: a project that reconsiders the New Left’s involvement in activist and grassroots political mobilisation and agitation. I staged an exhibition on this theme at the Radical Histories festival in 2016, and have worked with the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust to expand their online archive of left periodicals. Recent publications have also been related to this strand of work.

Examples of research funding:

2016-18: awarded £5000 from the Amiel-Melburn Trust to run a project to digitise two radical newspapers, Black Dwarf (1968-70) and 7 Days (1971-2)  for online archive of radical periodicals.

2015-16: awarded £1500 from the Amiel-Melburn Trust to stage exhibition ‘Activist Intellectuals: the British New Left as a social movement’, at Radical Histories Festival, July 2016, QMUL.



Journal articles:

‘Leo Panitch on British Labourism and the prospects for a ‘”Labour New Left”, forthcoming in Socialist Register, 2023

”Among the ordinary people”: New Left involvement in working class political mobilisation 1956-1968,  History Workshop Journal, Vol. 86, Autumn 2018.  DOI: 10.1093/hwj/dby018

‘Edward Thompson, MI5 and the Reasoner controversy: negotiating “Communist principle” in the crisis of 1956, Key Words: A Journal of Cultural Materialism, Issue 16, 2018.

‘Los principios comunistas’ y los historiadores en el 1956 británico’ Nuestra Historia, 2 (2016) ISSN 2529-9808 pp.123-30.

‘Edward Thompson’s ethics and activism 1956-1963: reflections on the political formation of The Making of the English Working Class’, Contemporary British History, 2014.

‘”Causes that were lost”? Fifty years of E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class as contemporary history’ (co-authored with Kevin Morgan): editors’ introduction to special issue of Contemporary British History, 2014.

‘Rethinking class: the lineage of the Socialist Register’ Socialist Register 2014, pp.287-304. Abstract here:

‘New Left anti-communism’: contribution to ‘A century of anti-communisms, a roundtable discussion’, with Gavin Bowd, Madeleine Davis, Paulo Drinot, Dianne Kirby, Carl Levy, and Matthew Worley, Twentieth Century Communism Issue 6 ‘A century of anti-communisms’, March 2014

 ‘Reappraising British socialist humanism’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 2013, 18 (1) pp. 1-25.

‘Can one nation Labour learn from the British New Left?’ guest editorial, Renewal, Vol. 21 No 1, 2013

 ‘Arguing affluence: New Left contributions to the socialist debate 1957-1963Twentieth Century British History, 23, 4 (2012) 496-528.

‘The Marxism of the British New Left’, Journal of Political Ideologies (Vol. 11, No.3 (2006) 335-358.

‘Externalized justice and democratization: lessons from the Pinochet case’ Political Studies Vol.54 No.2 June 2006.

‘Is Spain recovering its memory? Breaking the pacto del olvido’ Human Rights Quarterly 27 (2005).

‘The indictment of Pinochet: pursuing justice in Chile 1973-2003’ Hispanic Research Journal, 5/3, October 2004.

‘Dictators and democrats in Latin America; but can the poor tell the difference?’ Radical Philosophy, 104, November 2000, pp.2-6.

Edited book:  

The Pinochet Case: Origins, Progress and Implications (edited book), London, ILAS, 2003, 266pp, ISBN 1900039524

Book chapters:

‘The New Reasoner and the early New Left’ in David Howell, Dianne Kirby and Kevin Morgan (eds.) John Saville: commitment and history. Themes from the life and work of a socialist historian (Lawrence and Wishart, 2010) pp.30-50.

‘The Marxism of the British New Left’ in Zhang Liang (ed.) British New Left thinkers (Nanjing, Jiangsu Renmin Press, 2010), pp. 1-32.

‘The origins of the British New Left’ in ’ in M. Klimke and J. Scharloth (eds.) 1968 in Europe: a history of protest and activism 1956-1977, (Palgrave, 2008) pp.45-56.

‘Labourism and the New Left’ in Fielding, S., Ludlam, S., and Callaghan (eds.) Interpreting the Labour Party: Approaches to Labour Politics and History, Manchester, MUP, 2003, pp.39-56

‘The Politics of the Pinochet Case in the UK’ in Davis, M., (ed.) The Pinochet Case, pp.125-144

‘Law and politics in the Pinochet Case’ in Davis, M., (ed.) The Pinochet Case, pp.1-21


Introducing 7 Days: a revolutionary weekly newspaper in the Anthony Barnett archive’, 27 October, 2021. British library social sciences blog

‘Rebirth of a small dark stranger: the Black Dwarf, the British New Left, and 1968’, openDemocracyUK, 18 May 2018. (with Ross Speer)

'The New Left' in Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (Sage, 2009)

The Pinochet Case, Institute of Latin American Studies Research Paper, No. 53, November 2000, 76pp ISBN 1900039354


I very much welcome applications from prospective PhD students. I would especially like to hear from students interested in pursuing doctoral study on:

  • the history of socialist thought, especially in Britain;
  • the history, thought and political practice of individuals and movements of the British left, whether Communist, New Left or ‘far left’; 
  • aspects of Marxist political thought, especially but not exclusively in Britain.

I have supervised doctoral work on topics including: ‘Labour’s ethos and political change’; ‘Poststructuralist readings of Marx’; ‘Dialectics and critical social theory’.

Current students:

 Marzia Maccaferri: Intellectual and political discourse of Marxism Today (1977-1991). A transnational perspective

Public Engagement

Outreach and external collaborations

I am an associate of the Raphael Samuel History Centre a research and educational centre hosted by QMUL and Birkbeck, devoted to encouraging the widest possible participation in historical research and debate. I serve on the management board of the centre and was a member of the organising team for Radical Histories/Histories of Radicalism, a major public history festival at QMUL in July 2016.  An exhibition based on my research on activist histories of the British New Left was shown at the festival, produced in collaboration with Mike Berlin (Birkbeck) and with funding from the Barry Amiel and Normal Melburn Trust (BANMT).

I have collaborated with the British Library and the Amiel Melburn Trust on archival acquisitions related to my research. In 2021 I edited a series for the British Library social sciences blog on the history of the 1970s revolutionary newspaper 7 Days, material relating to which forms part of the Anthony Barnett archive. I have also collaborated with BANMT on the acquisition and digitisation of left periodicals including Black Dwarf (1968-70) and 7 Days (1971-2) for their online archive

I serve on the advisory board of Soundings and on the editorial collective of Socialist Register. 

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