Dr Kevin O'Sullivan

BA Ph.D

Contact Details

Lecturer
History
Room 413, Tower 1
Arts/Science Building
Central Campus

E: KEVIN.K.OSULLIVAN@nuigalway.ie
 
researcher

Biography

I completed my PhD at Trinity College, Dublin, in 2008, before moving to University College Dublin as an Irish Research Council post-doctoral fellow (2009-2011). Following this, I spent a year at the University of Birmingham as a Marie Curie Fellow, before taking up a permanent post at NUI Galway in 2012. Since then, I have been a visiting fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, and Carleton University, Ottawa (on two occasions) and also hold an honorary fellowship at the University of Birmingham. 

My main research and teaching interests are in international history, especially the areas of globalisation, humanitarianism, and NGOs. My first book, Ireland, Africa and the End of Empire: Small State Identity in the Cold War, 1955-75, was published by Manchester University Press in 2012, and re-issued in paperback in 2014. I am currently working on a new project, titled ‘The NGO Moment: The Globalisation of Humanitarianism, 1968-85’, which examines how and why (and with what consequences) NGOs became the primary conduits for Western compassion towards the Global South. As part of that research, I have published several articles and essays and co-edited special issues of European Review of History (with Matthew Hilton, 2016) and Moving the Social: Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements (with Enrico Dal Lago, 2017) on the history of humanitarianism.

My research has been funded by grants from the Irish Research Council (IRC), the European Commission, and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), including the AHRC-funded ‘Non-State Humanitarianism: From Colonialism to Human Rights’ research network, and (in 2017) an IRC-supported project titled ‘Humanitarian History: Past Practice into Future Policy’, in collaboration with Trócaire. I am a founding member of the Canadian Network on Humanitarian History and the Transnational Ireland research network, and sit on the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences.

Research Interests

Core research interests:
International history; the history of decolonisation; humanitarianism, aid and development; NGOs; globalisation; contemporary Irish history in a global context.

Current research:
The NGO Moment: The Globalisation of Humanitarianism, 1968-85.
This project examines the social, cultural & political phenomena that shaped the rapid expansion of the global NGO community, drawing on case studies from Britain, Canada and Ireland, as well as archives of governments and international organisations (EU, OECD, World Bank). Why did this period provide such fertile ground for the emergence of the humanitarian sector? What factors drove its expansion? And what can the NGO experience tell us about the history of globalisation and how the West encountered the post-colonial world?

Research Projects

  Project Start Date End Date
Conference: A Peculiar society 01-MAR-15 28-FEB-17
NON STATE HUMANITARIANISM FROM COLONIALISM TO HUMAN RIGHTS KEVIN O SULLIVAN 01-NOV-12 31-JUL-14
Kevin O'Sullivan MF Project 01-OCT-14 31-MAY-18

Books

  Year Publication
(2012) Ireland, Africa and the end of empire: Small state identity in the Cold War, 1955-75.
Kevin O'Sullivan (2012) Ireland, Africa and the end of empire: Small state identity in the Cold War, 1955-75. Manchester: Manchester University Press. [Details]

Edited Books

  Year Publication
(2017) Transnational Humanitarian Action: Atlantic and Global Voluntary Activities from Abolitionism to the NGOs, 1800-2000 – special issue of Moving the Social: Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements.
O'Sullivan, K; Dal Lago, E (Ed.). (2017) Transnational Humanitarian Action: Atlantic and Global Voluntary Activities from Abolitionism to the NGOs, 1800-2000 – special issue of Moving the Social: Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements. Bochum: Ruhr Universitat Bochum. [Details]
(2016) Humanitarianisms in Context: Histories of Non-State Actors, from the Local to the Global - special issue of European Review of History.
O'Sullivan, K; Hilton, M (Ed.). (2016) Humanitarianisms in Context: Histories of Non-State Actors, from the Local to the Global - special issue of European Review of History. Basingstoke: Taylor & Francis. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
(2015) 'The Search for Justice: NGOs in Britain and Ireland and the New International Economic Order, 1968-82'
O'Sullivan, K (2015) 'The Search for Justice: NGOs in Britain and Ireland and the New International Economic Order, 1968-82'. Humanity-An International Journal Of Human Rights Humanitarianism And Development, 6 :173-187 [DOI] [Details]
(2017) 'Towards a new history of humanitarianism'
O'Sullivan, K; Dal Lago, E (2017) 'Towards a new history of humanitarianism'. Moving the Social: Journal of Social History and the History of Social Movements, 57 :5-20 [DOI] [Details]
(2016) 'Humanitarianisms in context'
O'Sullivan, K,Hilton, M,Fiori, J (2016) 'Humanitarianisms in context'. European Review Of History-Revue Europeenne D Histoire, 23 :1-15 [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
(2015) 'Between Internationalism and Empire: Ireland, the 'Like-Minded' Group, and the Search for a New International Order, 1974-82'
O'Sullivan, K (2015) 'Between Internationalism and Empire: Ireland, the 'Like-Minded' Group, and the Search for a New International Order, 1974-82'. International History Review, 37 :1083-1101 [DOI] [ARAN Link] [Details]
(2014) 'Humanitarian encounters: Biafra, NGOs and imaginings of the Third World in Britain and Ireland, 1967-70'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2014) 'Humanitarian encounters: Biafra, NGOs and imaginings of the Third World in Britain and Ireland, 1967-70'. Journal Of Genocide Research, 16 (2-3):299-315 [ARAN Link] [Details]
(2013) ''Ah, Ireland, the caring nation': foreign aid and Irish state identity in the long 1970s'
O'Sullivan, K (2013) ''Ah, Ireland, the caring nation': foreign aid and Irish state identity in the long 1970s'. Irish Historical Studies, 38 :476-491 [ARAN Link] [Details]
(2011) 'History and the development aid debate in the Republic of Ireland'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2011) 'History and the development aid debate in the Republic of Ireland'. Policy And Practice: A Development Education Review, 12 :110-123 [Details]
(2007) 'Biafra to Lomé: The evolution of Irish government policy on official development assistance, 1969-75'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2007) 'Biafra to Lomé: The evolution of Irish government policy on official development assistance, 1969-75'. Irish Studies In International Affairs, 18 :91-107 [Details]

Book Chapters

  Year Publication
(2018) 'Humanitarian Encounters: Biafra, NGOs and Imaginings of the Third World in Britain and IReland, 1967-1970'
O'Sullivan, K. (2018) 'Humanitarian Encounters: Biafra, NGOs and Imaginings of the Third World in Britain and IReland, 1967-1970' In: Postcolonial Conflict and the Question of Genocide: The Nigeria-Biafra War, 1967-1970. Abingdon: Routledge. [Details]
(2016) 'Biafra's legacy: NGO humanitarianism and the Nigerian civil war'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2016) 'Biafra's legacy: NGO humanitarianism and the Nigerian civil war' In: Learning from the Past to Shape the Future: Lessons from the History of Humanitarian Action in Africa. London: Overseas Development Institute. [ARAN Link] [Details]
(2014) 'A global nervous system: The rise and rise of European humanitarian NGOs'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2014) 'A global nervous system: The rise and rise of European humanitarian NGOs' In: International organizations and development, 1945-1990. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. [ARAN Link] [Details]
(2013) 'EC membership, development aid and Irish foreign policy'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2013) 'EC membership, development aid and Irish foreign policy' In: Saints and sinners: official development aid and its dynamics in a historical and comparative perspective. Oslo: Oslo University Press. [Details]
(2005) 'The cause of nationality is sacred in ... Africa as in Ireland: Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa at the United Nations, 1960-75'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2005) 'The cause of nationality is sacred in ... Africa as in Ireland: Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa at the United Nations, 1960-75' In: Obligations and responsibilities: Ireland at the United Nations, 1955-2005. Dublin: IPA. [Details]

Other Journals

  Year Publication
(2017) 'Back to Biafra'
O'Sullivan, K (2017) 'Back to Biafra' History Ireland, 25 (3) :16-17. [Details]
(2010) 'Across the gaping earth blasted by hatred: Concern in Bangladesh'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2010) 'Across the gaping earth blasted by hatred: Concern in Bangladesh' History Ireland, 18 (4) :46-49. [Details]
(2006) 'The wind of change: Decolonisation in British West Africa'
Kevin O'Sullivan (2006) 'The wind of change: Decolonisation in British West Africa' History Ireland, 14 (4) :40-45. [Details]

Book Review

  Year Publication
(2017) Humanitarian Imperialism: The Politics of Anti-Slavery Activism, 1880-1940.
O'Sullivan, K (2017) Humanitarian Imperialism: The Politics of Anti-Slavery Activism, 1880-1940. Book Review [Details]
(2017) Britannia's Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief.
O'Sullivan, K (2017) Britannia's Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief. Book Review [DOI] [Details]
(2016) Calculating Compassion: Humanity and Relief in War, Britain 1870-1914.
O'Sullivan, K (2016) Calculating Compassion: Humanity and Relief in War, Britain 1870-1914. Book Review [DOI] [Details]
(2013) Review of Daniel P. L. Chong, Freedom from poverty: NGOs and human rights praxis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).
Kevin O'Sullivan (2013) Review of Daniel P. L. Chong, Freedom from poverty: NGOs and human rights praxis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). Book Review [DOI] [Details]

Review Articles

  Year Publication
(2017) Prosopographies, transnational lives, and multiple identities in global humanitarianism.
O'Sullivan, K; Dal Lago, E (2017) Prosopographies, transnational lives, and multiple identities in global humanitarianism. Review Articles [DOI] [Details]

Conference Contributions

  Year Publication
(2018) European Social Science History Conference,
O'Sullivan, K. (2018) Los Salvadores? Humanitarian NGOs and Solidarity with Latin America, 1979-84. [Oral Presentation], European Social Science History Conference, Queen's University, Belfast , 07-APR-18 - 07-APR-18. [Details]
(2018) Carleton University History Research Seminar,
O'Sullivan, K. (2018) Populist Humanitarianism: Responding to Famine in Africa, 1984-86. [Invited Oral Presentation], Carleton University History Research Seminar, Carleton University, Ottawa , 06-MAR-18 - 06-MAR-18. [Details]
(2018) TCD Contemporary Irish History Seminar,
O'Sullivan, K. (2018) Band Aid/Live Aid and the World that Bob Geldof Made. [Invited Oral Presentation], TCD Contemporary Irish History Seminar, Trinity College Dublin , 07-FEB-18 - 07-FEB-18. [Details]
(2017) EUI History Colloquium,
O'Sullivan, K. (2017) Charity or Justice? NGOs, Humanitarianism and the Search for a New World Order, 1968-82. [Invited Oral Presentation], EUI History Colloquium, European University Institute, Florence , 26-OCT-17 - 26-OCT-17. [Details]
(2017) Workshop on the Study of 'Humanitarianism',
O'Sullivan, K. (2017) The NGO Moment: Globalising Humanitarianism, 1968-85. [Invited Oral Presentation], Workshop on the Study of 'Humanitarianism', European University Institute, Florence , 20-OCT-17 - 20-OCT-17. [Details]
(2017) Humanitarianism and Charity: Expressions of or Alternatives to Socioeconomic Rights?,
O'Sullivan, K. (2017) Charity or Justice? NGOs and the Future of Humanitarian Aid, 1968-73. [Invited Oral Presentation], Humanitarianism and Charity: Expressions of or Alternatives to Socioeconomic Rights?, IEG Mainz , 28-SEP-17 - 29-SEP-17. [Details]

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2014 Visiting Research Fellowship, Carleton University (Ottawa) Carleton University, Ottawa
2013 PI, 'Sources and Uses of Humanitarian History' Irish Research Council, 'New Foundations' Programme
2013 Co-investigator, International Research Network: 'Non-State Humanitarianism: From Colonialism to Human Rights' British Arts and Humanities Research Council
2011 IRCHSS CARA Postdoctoral Mobility Fellowship Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
2011 Honorary Research Fellowship, University of Birmingham University of Birmingham
2005 IRCHSS Postgraduate scholarship Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
2009 IRCHSS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Professional Associations

  Association Function From / To
Voluntary Action History Society Member 01-JUN-12 /
Irish Association of Professional Historians Member 01-JUN-14 /
Voluntary Action History Society Member 01-DEC-11 /
Irish Historical Society Member /
Development Studies Association of Ireland Member /
Development Studies Association Member /

Committees

  Committee Function From / To
Irish Committee for Historical Sciences Member 01-SEP-15 /
School of Humanities Research Committee Member 01-SEP-13 /
Irish Association for Professional Historians Committee Member (NUI Galway representative) 01-SEP-14 /
International reference group for www.humanitarianhistory.org Member of reference group 20-NOV-12 /

Teaching Interests

Areas of specialisation
Global history; international history; history of decolonisation; humanitarianism, aid and development; Ireland and the wider world; history of NGOs.

Areas of interest
Africa since 1870; twentieth century Ireland; globalisation; human rights; Britain since 1945; France since 1945.

Modules Currently Taught (2018-19):
Undergraduate:
  • HI3100: Brave New World: Globalisation Since 1945 (lectures; final year).
  • HI3101: Of Rice and Men: Aid and Humanitarianism since 1945 (seminars; final year).
  • HI2100: Ireland in a Global Context, 1922-2002 (lectures; second year).
  • HI2125: Global History, 1780-1945 (lectures; second year - with Enrico Dal Lago).

Taught Postgraduate:
  • HI6100: NGOs and the Making of the Twentieth Century World

Current Postgraduate Students (Research)

  Student Degree Type Type
David Kilgannon Doctorate - Ph.D.(Arts) Co-supervisor (1)
Bernadette O Connell Doctorate - Structured Ph.D. in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Supervisor

Internal Collaborators

  Name Description of Collaboration
Internal Collaborators
Member, Geopolitics and Justice research cluster. Member, Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security research cluster. Co-organiser, Centre for the Investigation of Transnational Encounters, Moore Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

External Collaborators

  Name Organisation / Institute Country Description of Collaboration
External Collaborators
Dr Enda Delaney (University of Edinburgh), Dr Sarah Roddy (University of Manchester), Dr Ciarán O'Neill (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Niall Whelehan (Strathclyde University), Dr Jonathan Wright (Maynooth University) - co-founding members of the 'Transnational Ireland' research network.