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Faculty Advanced Institute for Research (FAIR)

Last updated: 16/09/09

Professor Mary Davis


Photo of Mary DavisPosition

Professor of Labour History

formerly Deputy-Director Working Lives Research Institute

formerly Head of Centre for Trade Union Studies

formerly Course Director, MA Labour & Trade Union Studies


BA(Hons.) FRSA

Mary Davis-CV.pdf

Research interests and expertise

My research is centred on the historical development of the British Labour Movement at an institutional and ideological level. Within this my chief area of concern is the problematic exclusion/inclusion of black and women workers in the labour movement and the extent to which the ideologies sustaining oppression have permeated the socialist/labourist tradition.

Thus I attempt not just to rescue those groups hitherto 'hidden from history' as separate subjects, but to integrate our growing knowledge of the dispossessed and powerless into an overall analysis of the non-linear development of the labour movement historically and currently. Most histories of the movement are based on the presumption that the working class was white and male. My research attempts to rectify this gender and colour blind approach.

My current research is on the development of the TUC’s colonial policy and its attitude to colonial independence and black immigration will throw new light on an under-researched subject from an historical perspective. This is related to current work on trade union responses to racism and xenophobia today.

I am frequently invited to broadcast on radio, television, and give specialist interviews for newspapers and magazines. In addition my research is disseminated through shorter, non-academic articles and through invited public lectures, conferences and seminars. My work on women’s history and in particular on Sylvia Pankhurst has resulted in frequent invitations to speak at public meetings and on radio. The campaign (of which I was one of the founders) to erect a memorial statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on College Green, Westminster, has attracted extensive sponsorship and aroused widespread interest.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am actively involved in the Labour movement. I am an executive committee member of my own union and an elected member of the TUC Women’s Committee. I was a founder and initiator of the newly established Charter for Women campaign.


My main teaching is in the field of Labour History.

As an educator, I was involved from the start of my career, to secure high quality educational provision for trade unionists. This has entailed the development of innovative and germane course content and teaching methods. In addition the Centre for Trade Union Studies aims to provide a ladder of opportunity for trade unionists to proceed from pre-degree courses to postgraduate study at masters and doctoral level. We now have an MA Labour and Trade Union Studies and have signed educational ‘partnerships’ with the Communication Workers’ Union & the Transport & General Workers’ Union to begin a new degree in Labour & Trade Union Studies.

I supervise PhD students within the sphere of my research interests.

I have also been involved in devising, writing and teaching courses for individual unions, especially for women members. Thus at a national level, I developed women’s courses in addition to courses for many unions on Equal Pay for work of Equal Value, Equal Opportunities, Job Evaluation (and much else) at regional, national and workplace level. I continue to develop and teach courses for individual unions, in particular for the Fire Brigades Union for which I have developed and led courses on equality, ‘the politics of change’ and have written and taught new courses on labour and women’s history for various unions

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Contact details

Mary Davis officially retired from London Met Uni in August 2009, so her email address at londonmet.ac.uk was deleted. But you can still contact her by post:

Mary Davis
c/o Working Lives Research Institute
London Metropolitan University
31 Jewry Street
London EC3N 2EY

Email: mary.gillian.davis1@googlemail.com


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Books and chapters in books


Other publications


Invited & other academic conference papers 2010

RMT Charles Watkins Memorial Lecture: ‘Why the Labour Movement  must study and learn from its own history








Professional Activities

Television, Film & Radio (interviews and broadcasts)

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