Whilst at the IHR, Emma will focus on completing her PhD thesis which draws upon oral history interviews and archival records to examine the emotional history of dock work in Liverpool from the 1960s onwards. By employing Barbara Rosenwein’s (2002) concept of ‘emotional communities’, Emma unravels the relationship between emotions, bodies and power at work during a period of significant change in the port transport industry. Decasualisation, containerisation and deindustrialisation transformed the nature of dock work. Consequently, Emma’s thesis allows conclusions to be drawn on how emotions, embedded within an emotional community, functioned as social tools that mediated and shaped structural change.
By using existing interviews conducted in the 1980s and 1990s alongside more recent interviews conducted by herself, Emma also reflects on the emphasis on the past in the present inherent in oral history. She assesses how the interview relationship, emotional silences and non-verbal emotional communication should be incorporated into historical writing as they shape the outcome of the interview.
Emma’s research interests include: the history of power and emotions, oral history, Modern British History, the history of work including occupational health and wellbeing, deindustrialisation, and public history.