Claire Wrigley

PhD Candidate

Late Modern Europe

I am a historian of modern Europe, focusing on Britain and its empire in the long twentieth century. My dissertation, "Family, Nation, Empire: An Imperial History of Public Housing in Britain, 1890-2017", looks at how public (council) housing policy was produced as part of a quest to make 'better' British citizens by managing their homes, families, and lives. I examine how this project shifted and changed as the British state itself transformed from global empire to decolonizing social democracy to a privatizing neoliberal state. I show how housing policy was created in response to larger questions of what it means to be a British citizen, who can be or become one, and the rights or duties that entailed.

My work has been supported by a number of entities, including the University of California Berkeley's Institute of International Studies, the Center for Race and Gender, and the Center for British Studies. I coordinated the Berkeley-Stanford British Studies Reading Group for two years and am a member of and sometimes guest writer for the London-based Social Housing Law Association. I am currently a visiting scholar at the University of Birmingham's Modern British Studies Centre.


Research Interests

  • state formation
  • citizenship
  • decolonization
  • political history

Select Conference Presentations

"‘Evict the Council, Not The People’: the Bengali Housing Action Group, Slum Clearance, and the Meaning of Home in 1970s Britain."

15th International Conference on Urban History, European Association for Urban History, Antwerp (forthcoming September 2021)

"Model Dwellings, Model People: Imperialism, Citizenship, and the Origins of Council Housing in Britain, 1890-1919."

Cities, Crisis and Change: Urban History Group Conference, University of Leicester virtual conference (June 2021) 

"To Sweep Away and Raise Up: Slum Clearance, Public Housing, and State Surveillance in Britain, 1919-1930."

Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies, Merced, CA (March 2019)