Department of American and Canadian Studies

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Elliot Newbold

Research Student, Faculty of Arts


Research Summary

Current Status

PhD (part-time) - currently registered

Research Topic

Imagining Independence: The United States and the Decolonization of the Philippines, 1933-1947 (working title)

Research Summary

My research explores the intellectual debates surrounding America's decolonization of the Philippines (1933-1947). It poses three critical questions: how did American actors influence the Philippine independence debates, what were the Filipino responses from elite and popular perspectives, and how did these responses influence the intellectual development of nationalism in the decolonizing world?

The project historicises America's decolonization of the Philippines through a transnational cast of historical actors, including US colonialists like Frank Murphy, public intellectuals and journalists like Joseph Hayden and Russel Brines, elite and popular Filipino figures like Manuel Roxas and Luis Taruc, as well as international actors in Britain and across the globe. It analyses how these characters constructed and contested Philippine independence, and probes the ways intellectual assumptions around race, religion, empire and exceptionalism collided to inform America's imperial enterprise. The research sheds new light on the history of US nation-building, offering a transnational account of Philippine independence that moves away from US-centric analyses. It utilises the islands' international significance as a forerunner for post-war Asian decolonization, and examines the underexplored dimensions of local resistance to US imperial policy and its reception in the wider world.

Research Interests

  • US Diplomatic History
  • Imperial/ Colonial History
  • History of Decolonization
  • US-Philippine Relations
  • Southeast Asian History

Research Supervisors

  • Professor Paul McGarr
  • Professor Bevan Sewell

Research Institutes and Clusters

  • British Association for American Studies (BAAS)
  • Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS)
  • Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies, University of Nottingham
  • Department of American & Canadian Studies Politics & Foreign Policy Cluster, University of Nottingham

Primary Funding Source

  • School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies (University of Nottingham) Doctoral Studentship, 2018-2024
  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Midlands 3Cities Doctoral Scholarship, 2018-2021

Research Activities

  • Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies funded research trip to Washington DC to visit the US National Archives, Library of Congress, and papers of Millard E. Tydings (University of Maryland), February 2018.
  • School of Cultures, Languages, and Area Studies funded research trip to the United States to visit Bentley and Lilly libraries (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Indiana University, Bloomington respectively), August-September, 2016.
  • Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies funded research trip to Manila, Philippines to undertake archival work in the National Library of the Philippines, Main Library (University of the Philippines, Diliman), and American Historical Collection (Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University), October 2016.

Conference Papers

  • Philippine Freedom and the Global Cold War, 1945-1947. Presented at the annual conference of the 'Historians of the Twentieth Century United States' at Madingley Hall, Cambridge in June, 2018.
  • Imagining Independence: American Visions of Philippine Freedom in the Global Cold War, 1945-1947. Presented at the annual 'International History and Diplomacy' conference at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, in May, 2018.
  • Solving the "Philippine Problem": Frank Murphy, the Great Depression, and the Creation of the Philippine Commonwealth, 1933-36. Presented at the 'America in the Asian Century' symposium at the University of Nottingham in March, 2017. Also served as co-organiser. Presented again at the University of Bristol's postgraduate conference, 'Empires and Nations: Beyond the British Case' in April, 2017.
  • The Perfect Place to "Win Friends and Influence People": Paul V. McNutt, the Cold War, and the Fledgling Philippine State, 1945-1947. Presented at the second 'International History and Diplomacy' conference at Liverpool John Moores University in May, 2017.

Professional Activities

  • Two-time winner of the Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies MA Tomlinson Dissertation Prize, 2015-2016 & 2016-2017.
  • Winner of 2014/15 University of Hull Departmental Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Dissertation.
  • Contributing author for the School of Politics & International Relations (University of Nottingham) Ballots & Bullets blog.
  • Editor at the Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies Dialogue blog, 2017 to present.
  • Winner of AHRC Midlands 3Cities Masters Scholarship, 2016-2017.
  • Invited to contribute commentaries for the Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, 2018-present.

Department of American and Canadian Studies

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