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Professor O’Connell works on the social history of modern Britain and Ireland (particularly Belfast). He has been active in developing oral history at Queen’s and is an editor of Oral History. Research interests include working-class communities, gender, and consumption. His is currently working on two projects: a history of ‘joyriding’, for publication by Palgrave Pivot and an oral history of Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland. The latter has been commissioned by the Department of Health.

O’Connell has published four monographs to date: The car in British society: class, gender and motoring 1896-1939 (Manchester University Press, 1998); Mail order retailing in Britain: a business and social history, (OUP, 2005: with D. Porter and R. Coopey); Credit and community: working-class debt in the UK since 1880 (OUP, 2009); The politics of consumer credit in the UK, 1938-1992 (OUP, 2008: with S.Aveyard and P. Corthorn)

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Professor O'Connell is open to PhD applications in the fields of (with a British or Irish focus); 

  • Oral history
  • Working class community (including deindustrialisation)
  • Gender history
  • Social history of Belfast since Partition
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  • Founder of Quote Hub (collective of Queen’s based oral historians) with a remit for public
    outreach and engagement. For me see -
  • Involved in a variety of public history partnerships. These include membership of academic
    advisory panels that revamped the Ulster Museum’s History Gallery and its Troubles Gallery.


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics




Research students

PhD Title: Queer Belfast

Name: Nadine Gilmore
Years of Study: 2017- present

PhD Title: Ethnic minority communities in twentieth century Belfast

Name: Jack Crangle
Years of Study: 2015 -present


PhD Title: Memory, conflict and class: the experience and legacy of deindustrialisation in Belfast and North East England

Name: Peter Hodson
Years of Study: 2015 -present

Research at Queen's

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