Dr Jim MacPherson

Biography content


Senior Lecturer in History - Programme Leader for MLitt British Studies - Postgraduate Research Co-Ordinator

 Dr Jim MacPherson

I am a collaborative cultural historian of modern Britain and my research focuses in particular on migration, empire, the Highlands and sport.

I arrived at UHI's Centre for History in 2011, following academic posts at University College Dublin, the University of Bristol, Leeds Trinity and All Saints College and the University of Sunderland. I completed my PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London in 2004 (supervised by Professor Joanna Bourke), where I researched women’s contribution to debate about Irish identity at the beginning of the twentieth century through print and associational culture

I'm increasingly interested in the modern history of the Highlands and I work closely with heritage bodies and local communities through our research network, The Hub for the Study of British Identities and through supervising collaborative postgraduate research studentships with Historic Environment Scotland and High Life Highland.

My latest research project involves working on a book-length study of James Macpherson (1736-1796) and his history writing, especially how his work connects the Highlands to Empire in a relationship that continues to shape identities in the present. You can read more about my interest in legacies of Empire at my blog, Empire at Home.

Research content



My current research focuses on the history writing of James Macpherson (1736-1796) and how he wrote as an historian in all his major works. In particular, this research is interested in how we can understand Macpherson as an Enlightenment historian, whose work was shaped profoundly by the relationship of the Highlands to the British Empire.

Related to this, much of my research is concerned with how the Empire influenced the Highlands and how this connection continues to have legacies and consequences in the present. I am particularly interested in how we can use elements of the Black Radical Tradition and postcolonial thought to help understand the nature of the Highlands and its position within the British Imperial state.

I welcome research proposals from students interested in any aspect of modern British, Irish, Scottish and Highland social and cultural history, including gender, migration, diaspora, empire, postcolonialism, associational culture, cricket, and British identities.

Completed PhD Students

Clive Abbott, 'The Irish Boundary Commission Episode: Northern Nationalist Narratives and Political Culture, 1924-1939' (University of Bristol, 2013).

Deborah Butcher, 'Ladies of the Lodge: A History of Scottish Orangewomen, c. 1909-2013' (London Metropolitan University, 2014).

Mel Manwaring-McKay, 'Curating the Highlands: Charles Fraser Mackintosh and Victorian Book Collecting' (MLitt by Research, UHI, 2018)

Linda Ross, ' "Nuclear fission and social fusion": the impact of the Dounreay Experimental Research Establishmen on Caithness, 1953-1966' (PhD, UHI, 2019) - AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentship, with Historic Environment Scotland.

Mary Souter, 'A Peculiar Diversity: Public Health in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, 1845-1912' (PhD, UHI, 2019).

Current Research Students

Maureen Hammond, 'Badenoch Textiles: Economy, Innovation and Identity in the Eighteenth Century' (PhD) - AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, with High Life Highland and the Highland Folk Museum.

Annie Gilfillan, 'Archiving the Nuclear Past: exploring the nuclear energy industry and its community impact in Britain' (PhD) - ESF PhD Studentship, in collaboration with High Life Highland and Nucleus.

John Macdonald, 'Gallanan Buidhe Fodhairis: Imperial Jacobite Gaels, 1746–1763. Local, National and Imperial Networks in the Mid-Eighteenth Century Gàidhealtachd' (PhD)

Alex Dold, 'The Outlander Series: A Nostalgic Kind of Public History' (PhD)

Aila Schaefer, 'Landscape’s Constitutive Role in Transforming the Highlander in the Ossianic Collections: James Macpherson’s Highland Tours 1760-1761' (MRes)

Vicki Jagger, 'Landed elite evangelical networks in the north of Scotland during the first half of the nineteenth century' (PhD)

Charlotte Evans, 'Eighteenth-Century Women & Their Clothes: Understanding Emotional, Personal and Physical Connections in Female Sartorial Choices' (PhD)

Publications content




(co-authored with Mairi MacPherson), Macpherson the Historian: Historiography, Nation-building and Identity in James Macpherson's Historical Works (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).

(co-edited with Rebecca Langworthy and Kristin Lindfield-Ott, Defying Genre: Critical Essays on Michel Faber (Gylphi, 2020).

Women and the Orange Order: Female Activism, Diaspora and Empire in the British World, 1850-1940 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016).

(co-edited with Mary J. Hickman) Women and Irish Diaspora Identities: Theories, Concepts and New Perspectives (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014).

Women and the Irish Nation: Gender, Culture and Irish Identity, 1890-1914 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).


'History Writing and Agency in the Scottish Highlands: Postcolonial Thought, the Work of James Macpherson (1736–1796) and Researching the Region's Past with Local Communities', Northern Scotland, 11:2 (2020), pp. 123-138.

'The Scots Abroad: Recent Approaches to Migration, Diaspora and Identity', Northern Scotland, 8 (2017), pp. 87-95.

‘The Emergence of Women’s Orange Lodges in Scotland: Gender, Ethnicity and Women’s Activism, 1909-1940’, Women’s History Review, 22:1 (2013), pp. 51-74.

‘Migration and the Female Orange Order: Irish Protestant Identity, Diaspora and Empire in Scotland, 1909-1940’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 40:4 (2012), pp. 619-42.

‘Personal narratives of family and ethnic identity: Orangewomen in Scotland and England, c. 1940-2010’, Immigrants and Minorities, 32:1 (2014, online early 2013), pp. 90-114.

‘The myriad-minded woman: public and private worlds in the journalism of Susan L. Mitchell’, The Irish Review, 42 (2010), pp. 15-26.

(with Donald M. MacRaild) ‘Sisters of the brotherhood: female Orangeism on Tyneside in the late 19th and early 20th centuries’, Irish Historical Studies, 137 (2006), pp. 40-60.

‘"Ireland begins in the home": women, Irish national identity and the domestic sphere in the Irish Homestead 1896-1912’, Éire-Ireland, 36, 3-4 (2001), pp. 131-52.

Essays in Edited Collections

'Irish Protestant Masculinities and Orangewomen in Scotland, Canada and England, 1890-1918', in Rebecca Barr, Sean Brady and Jane McGaughey (eds), Ireland and Masculinities in History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

'Cultural Transmission, Irish Associational Culture and the "Marching' Tradition", in Eugenio Biagini and Mary Daly (eds), The Cambridge Social History of Modern Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 551-65.

‘Irish Protestant women and diaspora: Orangewomen in Canada during the twentieth century’, in D. A. J. MacPherson and Mary J. Hickman (eds), Women and Irish Diaspora Identities: Theories, Concepts and New Perspectives (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014).

‘The Fifteen Streets: representations of Irish identity in Catherine Cookson’s novels’, in Julie Taddeo (ed.), Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction, and History (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 158-74.

‘“Exploited with fury on a thousand platforms”: women, unionism and the Ne Temere decree in Ireland, 1908-1913’, in Joan Allen and Richard Allen (eds), Faith of our Fathers. Six Centuries of Popular Belief in England, Ireland and Wales (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009), pp. 157-75.

'Domesticity and Irishness abroad: Irish women’s associational life in the north east, 1880-1914', in Shane Alcobia-Murphy (ed.), What rough beasts? Irish and Scottish Studies in the new millennium (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008), pp. 102-20.

(with David Renton), ‘Immigrant politics and north-east identity, 1907-1973’, in Adrian Green and A.F. Pollard (eds), Regional identities in north-east England, 1300-2000 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007), pp. 161-79.

'Mary Butler, domesticity, housewifery and identity in Ireland, 1899-1912', in C. J. Litzenberger and Eileen Groth Lyon (eds), The Human Tradition in Modern Britain (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006), pp. 171-86.

'The United Irishwomen and the advanced nationalist press', in R. Gillespie (ed.), The Remaking of Modern Ireland, 1750-1950 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003), pp. 201-22.

Teaching content



I am Module Leader for the following courses, many of which have been developed from my research interests:

  • People, Protest and Power: Themes in Modern British History (1st year)
  • Historians and History (2nd year)
  • Public History (3rd year)
  • Queer Britannia: Gender, Sexuality and Performative Identities in Britain, 1800-1950 (3rd year)
  • This Sporting Life: Identities, Culture and Sport in Britain and the Empire, 1850-2000 (3rd year)
  • Wagner To Pulp: Music and Identities in Britain and Europe (3rd year)
  • Scots in the Empire: How Scotland Shaped the British Empire (4th year)
  • The Empire Strikes Back: How the British Empire Shaped Scotland (4th year)
  • Fight the Power: Music and the Politics of Black America (4th year)
  • Global Scots: Places, Spaces and Peoples of the Scottish and Highland Diasporas (Masters)
  • The British Empire (Masters)
  • Britishness and Sport (Masters)
  • British Identities (Masters)
Additional activities content

Additional activities

Additional activities

  • Programme Leader for the MLitt in British Studies.
  • Director of the research network, The Hub for the Study of British Identities.
  • Unit of Assessment co-ordinator for our REF2014 submission.
  • Editor of the peer-reviewed journals Northern Scotland and the Journal of British Identities.
  • Board member of the Clan Macpherson Association Museum in Newtonmore.
  • Public Talks in 2014: Timespan in Helmsdale as part of their Diefenbaker's North project; Highland Family History Society on Hector Macdonald and Empire.
  • Public Talks in 2015: United Nations' 'Women and Diaspora' event; School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University; Irish Ambassador's Residence in Ottawa.
  • Public Talks in 2016: 'Meet the Books' workshop on the Napier Commission, Inverness Library; Annual Lecture at the Clan Macpherson Gathering on the MacPhersons of Skye and Land Reform.
  • Public Talks in 2017: 'Highland Homecomings: Twentieth-Century Highland Imperial Connections', Highland Family History Society
  • Public Talks in 2018: 'The Empire Strikes Back: Highland Homecomings, Culloden and competing visions of "British civilisation"', Culloden Visitor Centre, BBC Civilisations Festival.