Prof Peter Gatrell

Emeritus Professor

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I am primarily a historian of population displacement in the modern world. This represents a change of direction, insofar as the first part of my career was mainly devoted to the economic and social history of Russia. Most of my current research activity is devoted to a monograph on the history of Europe since 1945, with a focus on migration in/to Europe. This will be published by Penguin Books and Basic Books in August 2019.

I've spent most of my academic career at the University of Manchester, with short spells teaching part-time at the University of Liverpool and at the London School of Economics. My first teaching post was at the University of East Anglia (1976). My undergraduate and PhD degrees are from the University of Cambridge. Between 1997 and 2002 I was Head of the School of History and Classics, which now forms part of the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures. I chaired Sub-panel 27 (Area Studies) for the REF (Research Excellence Framework), 2014. I was one of the founding members of the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. See

The British Academy awarded me a Research Readership in 1995-1997, enabling me to research and to write A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War 1 (Indiana University Press, 1999; paperback, 2005) as well as several related articles and conference papers. This book won the Wayne S. Vucinich Prize, 2000, awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies for 'outstanding work in Russian, East European or Eurasian studies in any branch of the humanities or social sciences', and the Alec Nove Prize, 2001, awarded by British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, for an 'outstanding monograph in Russian and East European Studies'.

My research on population displacement has included collaborative research projects on population displacement, state-building and social identity in the aftermath of the First World War and the Second World War - see publications. I also became interested in the UN and global campaigns on behalf of refugees, and I published Free World? The campaign to save the world's refugees, 1956-1963 (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Details at

My latest book is entitled The Making of the Modern Refugee (Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback 2015). In 2017 I published an edited collection of original essays by 15 international scholars on the refugee crisis during the First World War.

I participate in the new research network on refugee history, at

Social responsibility

Social engagement

I have worked with various external partners including the Society of Friends (Quakers) and the American Friends Service Committee, as well as UNHCR (Geneva). My students and I have worked with the Manchester Refugee Support Network.

I am involved in the Model UN project (Schools Linking Network) and in the Schools University Partnership Initiative on 'tomorrow's citizens'. See

Further information


My expertise is in the history of refugees and the history of humanitarianism in the modern world, and additionally in the cultural history of modern war and the history of modern Russia.

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Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Prize: Election to learned society

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