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 Robert Pike

Robert Pike

Research student, School of Modern Languages

Overview

I am working towards a PhD in the School of Modern Languages. My research area is occupied France during World War 2 and my current project is looking at rural areas, and the choices ordinary people were forced to make in order to get by in life. It will consider what it meant to resist, to collaborate or to simply do what was necessary to get by under very difficult daily circumstances. My work is supervised by Professor Hanna Diamond of the School of Modern Languages and Dr Victoria Basham of the School of Law and Politics. It is funded by ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership.


I have come back to academia having graduated from the University of Exeter in 1998 with a BA Joint Hons in History and French. Last year I gained an MSc in Social Science Research Methods at Cardiff. I have a PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages from University of Wales Institute, Cardiff and taught French for some years at secondary level, before moving into teacher training. I also worked in educational publishing and co-authored Oxford University Press' A level French course books.


More recently I have written two books about the occupation in France. Defying Vichy: Blood, Fear and French Resistance was published by The History Press in 2018. Silent Village: Life and Death in Occupied France was published in 2021, also by The History Press. I have had articles about Oradour-sur-Glane publishd in History Today and France Magazine.

Research

Research interests

My reseach, as part of the ESRC Global Language Based Area Studies, concerns itself with the history of the occupation of France. Having already spent time interviewing former members of the Resistance, as well as trawling through archives in South-West France I am eqully interested in the banal, everyday existence.


I am inspired by the work of Rod Keward, Hanna Diamond, Robert Gildea and others who have looked at history as told 'from below', or using alternative voices. The 'unrecognised resistance', that is those who carried out their daily lives while doing things that put themselves and their families at risk, is an area that intrigues me. Motivation, choice, and 'resistance' as a term to be defined are key areas to which I believe I can make a contribution.

Teaching

I currently do some teaching on ML6187: National and Global Perspectives on France. I have presented my own books at various festivals and events including Gloucester History Festival and the Imperial War Museum.

Thesis

'Resistance Villages': an Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Rural Resistance in Nazi-Occupied France.

This project aims to contribute substantially to current debates on the occupation period in French history. It will provide a high-quality analysis of the nature of Resistance and how it can be conceptualised. It will seek to engage with questions of motivation and intentionality, while seeking to explore the cases of several safe-haven villages. These have long been reputed to have been centres of activity in support of armed Resistance (maquis) as well as important hubs for Allied agents. Such villages and their reputations have been, to date, largely ignored by academics. A forensic analysis of the villages, in comparison with others where behavioural patterns were very different, will help in understanding the nature of collective and normative behaviours and the nature of resistance itself.

Funding source

ESRC

Supervisors

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Professor Hanna Diamond

Professor of French History

Victoria Basham

Professor Victoria Basham

Professor of International Relations