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Postgraduate History student, Ben Edwards, successfully defends PhD

Press clipping: Research

Publication date16/06/10

It gives the Department of History great pleasure to be able to announce another PhD success in the department.

Ben Edwards's thesis "With God on Our Side: British Christian Responses to the Spanish Civil War" was passed 'forthwith' by the examiners on 3rd June. The external examiner was Professor Mark Connelly (University of Kent) and the internal was Dr James Taylor. Ben began his PhD in 2006 under the supervision of Chris Ealham and Stephen Constantine. He was an AHRC-funded student, and congratulations are especially in order because the thesis was completed within the specified four years.

The thesis analyses the social, cultural and political importance of Christianity in Britain in the late 1930s by investigating British Christian responses to the Spanish Civil War. The war in Spain was chosen as the proxy through which to discuss the significance of Christianity in Britain because the Nationalists claimed to be fighting a Christian Crusade against atheistic communism. As a result of this representation, this conflict presented members of the Christian community in Britain with an opportunity and sometimes what they felt was an obligation to voice their broader anxieties. Principally, they used the Spanish Civil War to articulate their belief that Christianity in Britain was being assailed by communism, and to criticise the conduct of rival denominations. The thesis uses the vehement and significant Christian reactions to the conflict in Spain to indicate that Christianity was still an important aspect of British society in the late 1930s. In so doing, it questions traditional secularisation theory.