Professor David Nash

BA (East Anglia) Phd. (York)

Emeritus Professor of History

School of Education, Humanities and Languages

David Nash


David Nash was previously at the Universities of Leicester and York where he taught primarily 19th and twentieth century British History. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an officer of the Social History Society of Great Britain.

David is a Director of the SOLON project which links a number of University Departments in studying the interdisciplinary dimensions of crime and bad behaviour from both contemporary and historical perspectives. 


Radicalism in Britain, blasphemy, the history of religion, the history of atheism, the history of shame and the cultural history of law and crime.

Research interests

Blasphemy, history of shame, blame and culpability, links between religion and crime, history of secularisation, history of atheism, history of radicalism and the affinities all these have with cultural history.

Research grants and awards

  • 2012 Marie Curie Fellowship grant of 309,000 Euro.
  • 2018 Co-Investigator on Humanism in Britain Project (with Callum Brown) awarded £68,000 for Humanism in Britain volume.

Research projects

Immediate research projects

  • Completing monograph (with C.Brown, and C. Lynch), The Humanist Movement 1896-2021: Ethicists, Humanists and Rationalists in Modern Britain. Bloomsbury, 2022. In press.
  • Completing edited book (with E.Bouwers) eds. Blasphemy and Violence (De Gruyter) 2022. In press. Contributing a chapter to this volume
  • Completing edited book with J. Wettlaufer and J. Frode Hatlen) Shame and Honor in Europe (Routledge) 2022. In press. Contributing two chapters to this volume.

Forthcoming projects

  • Also researching for a project on 'blackmail' and an extension of the 'Stories of Belief' project to now include secular stories of unbelief.

Research impact

Impact Statement submitted with 2014 REF ‘Seeking Blasphemy Repeal in Ireland’ (rated 4*). Impact statement continued as ‘Achieving Blasphemy Repeal in Ireland’ to be submitted for REF 2020. This outlines my direct involvement in the repeal of the 2009 Blasphemy law in Ireland which was removed after a referendum vote in October 2018. Again this has been internally audited as 4* top rated Impact Statement.

Have commenced Impact statement for 2026 ‘Engaging Public Awareness of Humanist and Secular History’ currently writing popular anniversary history of the movement and working with the Humanist Heritage Project on their committee. Planning a series  of events around archive holdings and the eventual launch of the book 2022 onwards.


Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Exploring Atheism in Pre Nineteenth Century England (01/02/2023 - 30/06/2024), funded by: Queens Univ Belfast, funding amount received by Brookes: £29,205


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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
  • Editor of European top ranked journal Cultural and Social History
  • General Editor of international book series Histories of the Sacred and Secular for Palgrave
  • Macmillan
  • General Editor of international book series SOLON Explorations in Crime and Criminal
  • Justice History for Routledge.
  • Member Editorial Board of journal Secularism and Nonreligion
  • Member Editorial Board of international book series History of Crime, Deviance and
  • Punishment for Bloomsbury.
  • Founding member and editorial board member of electronic journal Crimes and
  • Misdemeanours: Deviance and Law in Historical Perspective. Now renamed in
  • January 2011 as Law, Crime and History Open access journal.
  • Member of Editorial Board of open access journal Palgrave Communications
  • Member of Editorial Board of open access Journal Heliyon
  • Conference paper external referee for The Religion and Media Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (USA) Annual Conference 2002-2007.
  • Elected to Council of Social History Society (2002)
  • Joint Chair of annual Social History Society conference strand ‘Deviance, Inclusion and Exclusion’ (2002 - 2008)
  • Modern Book Review Editor for H-Albion 2000 – 2005, the largest and most significant publisher of electronic reviews pertinent to British history.
  • Academic referee for Journal of Religious History, Journal of Victorian Culture, Historical Journal, Ashgate Publishing, Macmillan Publishing, OUP, CUP, University of Ohio Press, University of Chicago Press, Palgrave, Willen Publishing, Bloomsbury and Peter Lang Publishing.
  • Book Reviews for Urban History Yearbook, Economic History Review, English Historical Review, Social History, History Reviews Online, H-Albion, the Journal of Religious History, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, History Today, Historical Journal.


Conference papers given since 2003

  • ‘Blasphemy: legislating then, legislating now’ to Centre for the Study of Hate Crime/SOLON Conference. Hate Crime in Perspective, February 2003.
  • Featured Round Table participant in ‘Future of Hate Crime Studies’ panel at this same conference.
  • ‘Republicanism in England: A middle class cultural triumph?. To Midlands Victorian Studies Seminar, Birmingham University, May 2003.
  • ‘Religious Citizenship or Religious Identity? Historical Perspectives on a Conundrum’. To Law Seminar Oxford Brookes University, June 2003.
  • 'Secular geographies of London'. To Conference London Politics 1815-1914. Institute of Historical Research, June 2003.
  • ‘Blasphemy and Golobalisation’ to Conference. Citoyennete, empires, mondialisation, Universite Blaise Pascal, Clermont Ferrand, September 2003.
  • ‘Punishing the Profaners. The place of Order and Retribution in Punishing blasphemous Crimes. Social History Society Conference, Rouen, France, January 2004.
  • ‘Profane paradigms; Blasphemy in early modern Europe. To ESSH conference, Berlin, March 2004.
  • ‘Blasphemous evils and evil Blasphemies’ To Conference The nature of evil, Mansfield College, Oxford, July 2004.
  • ‘Blasphemy, violence and the anti-Civilising process. Social History Society Conference, Dublin, Ireland, January 2005.
  • March 2005 ‘Blasphemy the helpmate of evil’ to conference ‘Religion and Evil’ Freij University Amsterdam/TroppenMuseum.
  • November 2005 Opening Featured Keynote Speech (funded) at ‘Blasphemy and the Sacrilegous’ Centre for Humanities Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
  • April 2006 ‘Blasphemy and the emergence of the modern State’ Social History Society Annual Conference, Reading.
  • In 2006 I gave the Paine Memorial Lecture to the Thomas Paine Society. The previous year’s lecture was given by Tony Benn
  • March 2007 ‘Models of ‘passive’ and ‘active’ blasphemy’. Social History Society Annual Conference, Exeter
  • July 2007 ‘The ‘children of the brain’ face the ‘Herod of authority’ Blasphemy’s past and its shadow over our present and our future. Featured Keynote speech to ‘Theory, Faith, Culture – an interdisciplinary international conference, University of Cardiff
  • September 2007 Opening Featured Keynote Speech Law Religion and Culture Conference, University of Lancaster
  • Seminar Series ‘Law and Crime: Past into Present’ in conjunction with the Centre for Legal Research and Policy Studies (Oxford Brookes) 2003 onwards.
  • Keynote lecture as Inaugral event of the Religion and Philosophy Conference at the Catholic Institute of Sydney (October 2008).Subsequently broadcast on Australian National Radio. For a podcast and online recording see
  • Keynote Lecturer to the Conference of Sweden's National Church in Stockholm (December 2009).
  • June 2010, Keynote speaker at the Humanist University (Utrecht) and the University of Utrecht. This seminar was reported and summarised in two Dutch Newspapers (Netherlands Dagblad and Trouw).
  • Keynote speaker at ‘Censorship and Literature’ Conference (Edge Hill University, April 2011)
  • Addressed atheist Congress Dublin (June 2011).
  • Conference Organiser and speaker at ‘Crime violence and the Modern State Conference III’ Lyon, France (September 2011).
  • Invited to Brief Member of the Irish Parliament on the issue of blasphemy (February 2012).
  • Addressed the Irish Constitutional Convention about blasphemy law repeal (November 2013).
  • Asked By LIBERAS archive (Ghent) to organise conference and deliver edited volume on Blasphemy and Violence 2019.
  • Invited to give and deliver blasphemy masterclass at Central European University (Vienna) June 2021.
  • Other international papers given since 2007 in Oxford, Utrecht, St Petersburg, Lyon, Amsterdam, Warwick, Lisbon, Trinity College Dublin, London, Keele, Helsinki, Tampere and Bordeaux, Vienna, Umea, Clermont-Ferrand, Frankfurt, Erfurt, Brussels, Ghent, Warsaw, Berlin, Crete, Waco (Texas), Canberra, Bielefeld.


Consultancy to the National Secular Society regarding repeal of the blasphemy laws in Britain. Also consultancy with the National Secualr Society regarding the administration of religious oaths in parliamentary democracies. In 2003 gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences.

Further details

Other experience

  • Visiting Professor Humanist University Utrecht (October 2005)
  • Visiting Professor Department of History, SUNY (Buffalo) (May-June 2006)
  • Visiting Professor Jan Van Praag Institute, Utrecht (June 2010, November 2015)
  • Invited as inaugural lecturer to speak at Launch of Center for Inquiry (Low Countries), Utrecht, Netherlands 2008
  • Installed as Director of Center For Inquiry, London, 2008
  • Made a Visiting Fellow of the Center for Inquiry, Amherst, New York
  • Made Permanent Visiting Fellow of the Center for Inquiry, Amherst, New York (2006)
  • Invited to showcase Blasphemy in the Christian World at the prestigious International Hay Literary Festival. I was also asked to undertake a book signing and a Radio Four interview. (2008)
  • Furnishing verbal and written evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences (2003). Both subsequently published in full in the final report. ( and
  • Gave Advice on the Common Law of Blasphemous Libel to a number of back bench Labour MPs
  • Reviewer of document and consultant ‘Responding to the Islamic Human rights Movement: A defense of Universalism at the United Nations’. Submitted to the United Nations Council September 2008.