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Professor Kendrick Oliver PhD

Professor of American History, Director, Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies,Head of Research (and Impact Champion)

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Professor Kendrick Oliver is a Professor of American History at the University of Southampton.

I specialise in the history of the United States from 1945 to 1980.  In particular, I am interested in exploring modern American political, social and cultural responses to some of the larger questions of human existence.  This theme links my doctoral work on nuclear diplomacy with subsequent studies of memory and catastrophe, wartime atrocities, crime and punishment, religion and space exploration, and with my current research into the cultural history of the 'big bang' theory.

I co-convene the Institute of Historical Research US History Seminar in London.  I currently serve as Director of the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies.





Research interests

My third book, To Touch the Face of God: the Sacred, the Profane and the American Space Program, 1957-75, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in January 2013. Research for the book was facilitated by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship (2007-8).

I am now developing a project exploring the cultural history of the ‘big bang' theory of the universe's origins. This project has received generous financial support from the American Philosophical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the Dibner History of Science Program at the Huntington Library.

I also have a strong interest in the history of American evangelicalism, with particular emphasis upon evangelicals and prison ministry at home and abroad. The Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies hosted a conference - 'Towards the Ends of the Earth: Exploring the Global History of American Evangelicalism 1840-2010' - in April 2014.  A selection of articles drawn from that conference will be published in a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of American Studies, which I will co-edit with Professor Axel Schäfer (Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany), Dt. Uta Balbier (King's College London) and Dr. Hans Krabbendam (Roosevelt Study Centre, Middelburg, Netherlands).



Book Section(s)


Areas where I can offer postgraduate supervision:
Modern U.S. history, particularly the Vietnam War, the history of the American space programme, the history of cosmology, and post-war religion.

Past PhD projects supervised:

James Morgan, 'Radical Critiques of US Imperialism'. Published as Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014) (

Christopher Fuller, 'The Eagle Comes Home to Roost: The Historical Origins of the CIA's Lethal Drone Programme'.  for an initial journal article emerging from the project, see Christopher J. Fuller, 'The Eagle Comes Home to Roost: The Historical Origins of the CIA's Lethal Drone Programme,' Intelligence and National Security (2014) (

Current PhD projects supervised:

Alex Ferguson, 'The US Embassy in Saigon, 1950-1957'.

Thomas Ellis, 'Reds in Space: American perceptions of the Soviet space programme from Apollo to Mir 1967-1991'.



Professor Kendrick Oliver
Building 65 Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number:65/2061

Telephone:(023) 8059 2243

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