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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483703
Dr James Cooper is a Fulbright Scholar and a Fellow of both the Royal Historical Society and the Higher Education Academy. He completed his PhD at Aberystwyth University in 2010 and then became Lecturer in Modern History at the same institution. In August 2012 Dr Cooper was appointed Senior Lecturer in History at Oxford Brookes University before spending the 2012-13 academic year as the Fulbright-Robertson Visiting Professor of British History at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, USA. In May 2016, Dr Cooper was a Visiting Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
Dr Cooper's first monograph, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: A Very Political Special Relationship (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012), is the first major examination of the Reagan-Thatcher relationship with regards to domestic policy. It has been well received in academic journals. The English Historical Review (2014) describes is at 'an engaging and informed analysis ... with many new insights'. Similarly, the American Historical Review (2014) notes that the monograph's 'analysis is well-developed and persuasive' and 'provides an original and interesting contribution to the literature of the Anglo-American relationship'. A review in the Journal of Contemporary History (2014) states that the monograph's importance and impact is 'considerable'. Dr Cooper's expertise is increasingly recognised beyond the academy. For instance, Dr Cooper was interviewed live on the BBC news channel about the Reagan-Thatcher relationship following the release of an audio recording of their conversation about the American intervention in Grenada in 1983 (10 November 2014).
Dr Cooper in primarily interested in contemporary American history within a global context. He is a co-founder and director of the International History and Grand Strategy Research Group in the Department. One of the principle activities of the research group is the organisation of special events for students and the general public. Events have included a public lecture by Lord Powell of Bayswater (18 March 2014), Professor Sir David Omand (17 October 2014), Dr Luke Nichter of Texas A&M (23 February 2015), and Sean Donlon, former Irish ambassador to the United States (November 2015). The group is also responsible for hosting the annual 'Congress to Campus' event, whereby former members of the U.S. Congress interact with students and the wider community (6 March 2015; 4 March 2016).
Dr Cooper is keen to receive undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation proposals on modern and contemporary American and British political history, broadly defined.
Dr Cooper’s first major research project focused on the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. In addition to the articles that came of this research, the project led to a monograph. It explored the Reagan-Thatcher relationship in a transnational context, with specific reference to domestic policy, testing the strengths and weaknesses of their political bonds. Over thirty interviews with key protagonists and the most recently available documentary material in British and American archives were used. While a connection between Thatcherite and Reaganite domestic policy is often assumed by commentators, this study revealed the complexity of the Reagan-Thatcher relationship. Although Reagan and Thatcher are commonly viewed in the same ‘New Right’ context, it was the rhetoric rather than reality of their policies that was used to offer a crucial mutual validation as they sought to “roll back the state”.
He is currently developing two projects which will lead to further research outcomes. The first focuses on the response of US presidents to the Northern Ireland conflict during the ‘Troubles’. It will contribute to the relatively marginalised historiography of the American dimension of the Anglo-Irish process. The second is an examination of Anglo-American summitry in the Reagan-Thatcher era.
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan gained power after promising similar solutions to the economic decline of the 1970s and are commonly viewed in the same ‘New Right’ context. Having met twice before in 1975 and 1978, the first meeting in February 1981, following their respective ascents to power, was popularly viewed as a diplomatic ‘love-in’ and a reaffirmation of the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ in the context of an emerging New Right hegemony. However, this article demonstrates that even at this early stage, it was clear that the Reagan-Thatcher dynamic would be as much ‘political’ as would be ‘special’. While Thatcher used her visit to the United States to establish herself as Reagan’s principle ally and to endorse his economic programme, she had also hoped that it would offer some political cover from Britain’s troubled economy. However, Thatcher was undermined by the same administration that she was determined to support. Thus, this article offers fresh and renewed insight about the emergence of New Right policies in the 1980s and revisits the Reagan-Thatcher relationship, highlighting its contradictions and complexities.
The collaboration and exchange of ideas and tactics between American and British political parties is a well-established and accepted fact of political life. This article examines a previously marginalised aspect of the transatlantic relationship in the Margaret Thatcher–Ronald Reagan epoch, namely the extent to which the Conservative Party's electioneering in 1979 and 1983 influenced the presidential campaigns to elect Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. Just as Thatcher and Reagan shared a ‘special relationship’ in foreign affairs, their respective campaigns also had much in common as each sought to secure power in similar circumstances. Whereas previous work has focused on the extent of the ‘Americanisation’ of British political campaigns, the extent of British influence, particularly that of Thatcher and of the Conservative Party's innovations, has been a relatively neglected issue. Thus, this article contributes to the ‘Americanisation’ debate by proposing that Republican electioneering in the 1980s was ‘Thatcherised’.