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Introducing Matthew Broad

Matthew Broad recently joined the Institute for History as a lecturer in International Relations. He introduces himself.

Depending on how you view Brexit, as a Brit I moved to Leiden at the best or worst possible time. I arrived in August 2018 as a Lecturer in International Relations teaching on the BAIS and MAIR. I offer a variety of courses covering everything from diplomacy and Euroscepticism to methods training. Before I made my way to the Netherlands, I spent varying lengths of time in Oxford as a Research Associate in the Centre for International Studies, in Turku as an EU-funded Marie Curie Individual Researcher, in Pittsburgh’s European Studies Centre as Summer Scholar in Residence, at Aarhus University, Denmark, as a visiting researcher, and at various universities in the UK.

I am by training a contemporary historian of international relations focused on Western Europe, with particular interests in European integration, Anglo-Nordic relations, British foreign policy and the Cold War. I have however always had one eye directed to political science methods and approaches, and my work extends from the early post-Second World War period up until the modern day.  I try where possible to imbue into my students the benefits of combining the historian’s craft with the social scientist’s framing. Comparative contextualisation of a topic, embedded in multinational archival research, forms the core of my approach.

Previous research very much reflects this. My first book, published in 2017, examined the European policies of the British Labour Party and the Danish Social Democrats (SD) in the ‘long’ 1960s. On one level the book compared how the British and Danish centre-left responded to the European integration process amid an array of domestic and international constraints. But the more innovative aspect sought to identify the reciprocal impact of informal cross-border cooperation between the two parties as part of this policymaking process. I was able to show that Denmark, via the SD-Labour nexus, at times held great sway over British policy towards ‘Europe’. It therefore tells us much about the drivers of foreign policy, the role of small states in international diplomacy, and the importance of informal transnational networks as sites of inter-state relations.

My work now seeks to offer a historical institutional study of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). EFTA emerged in the 1950s, but we still know little about how and why EFTA developed thereafter, its institutional and policymaking structure, its contribution to the early integration process, or the lessons these aspects could carry for contemporary politics. Initial findings reveal EFTA as an economic organisation with clear political intent and its own bureaucratic momentum, keen to expand its geographic reach and promote democracy in Southern and Eastern Europe and, more generally, brand itself as a viable alternative to the EU. This work should give rise to a second, co-written book with Richard Griffiths on the economic and political division of Western Europe in the 1950s, a third monograph covering EFTA’s progress up until the modern day, and a co-edited collection under contract with Palgrave Macmillan on the different models and visions of European integration beyond the EU.


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