Department of History

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Kate Law

Assistant Professor of History, Faculty of Arts



I am an Africanist and feminist historian who specialises in modern South African and Zimbabwean history. To date, my research has examined the relationship between transnational networks, settler colonialism and women's colonial histories, principally focusing on white women and the ambiguities of race and gender in the Southern African region. My first monograph, Gendering the Settler State: White Women, Race, Liberalism and Empire in Rhodesia c.1950-1980 (Routledge, New York, 2016, paperback 2017) began the long overdue task of "gendering" the history of British decolonisation, through examining how "liberal" women responded to UDI, guerrilla insurgency and the coming of independence in colonial Zimbabwe.

I was awarded my PhD from the University of Sheffield in 2012, following which I became a Vice-Chancellor's postdoctoral fellow, and latterly lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Prior to joining Nottingham in October 2018, I was senior lecturer at the University of Chichester where I taught widely on the Modern History programme. I have successfully supervised three PhD theses and welcome enquiries from those interested in modern Southern African history; women's history; and aspects of "new" imperial history.

I'm currently a member of the editorial collective of The South African Historical Journal, and prior to that I was the reviews editor for Itinerario: Journal of Imperial and Global Interactions. If you have an idea for a special issue of SAHJ, then please do get in touch.

Teaching Summary

I currently teach the second year optional module, HIST2051: Villains or Victims? White Women and the British Empire, c.1840-1980.

Research Summary

I am currently working on three projects. The first is a book project which is currently entitled: 'Fighting Fertility: The Politics of Race and Contraception in Apartheid South Africa, c.1980-1994'.… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

I am currently working on three projects. The first is a book project which is currently entitled: 'Fighting Fertility: The Politics of Race and Contraception in Apartheid South Africa, c.1980-1994'. Fighting Fertility grows out of my interest in the histories of female activism and liberal networks in Southern Africa, and has received funding from the Wellcome Trust, the British Academy and the South African National Research Foundation. Transnational in focus, it concentrates on the efforts of the women's wing of the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) to have apartheid South Africa banned from the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) due to its use of the controversial contraceptive injection Depo-Provera, whilst also interrogating the shifting meaning of "Family Planning" during the lifespan of the apartheid regime.

The second is a public engagement project that aims to uncover the history of anti-apartheid activity in Nottinghamshire. 2020 marks 30 years since Nelson Mandela was freed from Victor Verster Prison. A defining moment for the liberation struggle in South Africa and its international supporters, by 1994 Mandela became the country's first democratically elected president. In the decades preceding Mandela's release, the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) played a prominent role in the fight against Apartheid. Although the British AAM was headquartered in London, it had vital networks of regional groups in the UK who co-ordinated action locally. This project uncovers and narrates this history in Nottinghamshire, using a combination of archival research and oral histories. For more information about the project, including details of how you can take part, please click here.

Finally, I am the PI on 'Social History From the Global South: New Voices From Southern Africa' which has received generous funding from the British Academy under the auspices of their 'Writing Workshop' scheme. Despite accounting for 13.5% of the global population, Sub-Saharan Africa produces less than 1% of global research output. This statistic becomes even more alarming considering a 2014 report by the African Humanities Program which detailed the 'de-prioritization' of the humanities in Southern Africa by policymakers and officials. Social History from the Global South: New Voices from Southern Africa, responds to this crisis in humanities research, bringing together twenty-five of the most promising early career historians from across the region. Working with established scholars - all of whom have significant publishing experience, both as writers and editors - this intensive and timely workshop will support and develop the scholarship of academics located in the Global South. In doing so, it will help to address the enduring marginalisation of research originating from the African continent in an effort to make tangible the education goals articulated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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