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Professor Ross Wilson

Professor of Modern History & Public Heritage | 01243 812191

Ross Wilson is Professor of Modern History and Public Heritage. He holds a BA (Hons) in Archaeology, an MA by Research in Archaeology and History (York, 2004) and a PhD in Archaeology and History (York, 2008). His doctoral thesis examined the experience of British soldiers on the Western Front and the representation of this experience within contemporary politics, media and culture.


I am a member of the Royal Historical Society, the International Society for First World War Studies and a member of the editorial board for the International Journal of Heritage Studies.



2011 L. Smith, G. Cubitt, R. Wilson and K. Fouseki (eds.), Representing enslavement and abolition in museums: ambiguous engagements, London and New York: Routledge.

2011 Landscapes of the Western Front: the materiality of the Great War, London and New York: Routledge.

2013 Cultural Heritage of the Great War in Britain, Farnham: Ashgate.

2014 New York and the First World War: shaping an American city, Farnham: Ashgate

​2016 The Language of the Past. London: Bloomsbury

Articles and chapters

2007 Archaeology on the Western Front: The Archaeology of Popular Myths, Public Archaeology 6(4) (227-241).

2008a Strange Hells: A new approach on the Western Front, Historical Research 80(211) (150- 166).

2008b Representing the Diaspora: Performances of Origin and Becoming in Museums, African Diaspora Archaeological Newsletter, March 2008.

2008c The Trenches in British Popular Memory, InterCulture 5(2) (109-118).

2008d The BBC Abolition Season and the media memory of the transatlantic slave trade, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 28(3) (391-403).

2008e The mystical character of commodities: the consumer society in eighteenth century England, Post-Medieval Archaeology 42(1) (144-156).

2008f British soldiers and “the monster” on the Western Front, in S. Ni Fhlainn (ed.) Dark Reflections, Monstrous Reflections: Essays on the Monster in Culture. Oxford: The Interdisciplinary Press, pp. 285-298.

2009a E. Waterton and R. Wilson, Talking the talk: responses to the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in government documents, media responses and public forums, Discourse and Society 20(2) (381-399).

2009b Memory and Trauma: Narrating the Western Front, 1914-1918, Rethinking History 13(2) (251-268).

2009c Writing the Bicentenary – Reconciling in the Museum through the Written Word, in S.Bojkovic and Ana Stolic (eds.) Museums as places of reconciliation: Proceedings of the 8th Colloquium of the International Association of Museums of History. Belgrade: Historical Museum of Serbia, pp. 150-163.

2009d Archaeology Quiet on the Western Front, in L. Smith and E. Waterton (eds.) Taking Archaeology out of Heritage. Cambridge: The Cambridge Scholars Press, pp. 72-90.

2009e Review: History, memory, heritage, International Journal of Heritage Studies 15(4) (374-378).

2010a The Popular Memory of the Western Front: Archaeology and European Heritage, in E.Waterton and S. Watson (eds.) Cultural Heritage and Representation: Perspectives on visuality and the past. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 75-90.

2010b Cultivating the City: York’s allotment gardens 1905-1914, York Historian 26 (65-78).

2010c E. Waterton, L. Smith, R. Wilson and K. Fouseki, Forgetting to Heal: remembering the abolition act of 1807, The European Journal of English Studies 14(1) (23-36).

2010d Cultivating the City and its Citizens: The Creation of Corporation Allotments in York, The International Journal of Regional and Local Studies 6(1) (38-57)

2010e Rethinking 1807: governmentality and the bicentenary, Museum and Society 8(3) (165-179).

2011a L. Smith, G. Cubitt and R. Wilson Introduction: anxiety and ambiguity in the representation of dissonant history, in L. Smith, G. Cubitt, R. Wilson and K. Fouseki (eds.) Representing enslavement and abolition in museums. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1-19.

2011b The Curatorial Complex: marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, in L. Smith, G. Cubitt, R. Wilson and K. Fouseki (eds.) Representing enslavement and abolition in museums. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 131-146.

2011c Archaeology on the battlefields: an ethnography of the Western Front, Assemblage 11 (1-14).

2011d Behind the Scenes of the Museum Website, Museum Management and Curatorship 26(4) (373-389).

2011e Tommifying the Western Front, Historical Geography 37(3) (338-347).

2011f Remembering and Forgetting Sites of Terrorism in New York, 1900-2001, Journal of Conflict Archaeology 6(3) (200-221).

2012 ‘Social and Political Reform in York’s Allotment Gardens’, Journal of Urban History 38(4) (731-752).

2012b The Burial of the Dead: the British Army on the Western Front, 1914-1918, War & Society 31(1)(22-41).

2012c Remembering and Forgetting the Great War in New York City, Journal of First World War Studies 3(1) (87-106).

 2013 Volunteering for Service: Digital Co-curation and the First World War, International Journal of Digital Heritage Studies, Wilson, R.1(4), 519-534.

2014a ‘Seeing and Witnessing: Women and the Great War in Britain’, in G. Clarke (ed.) From Fields to Factories: Women’s Work on the Home Front in the First World War. Chichester: University of Chichester, pp.7-18.

2014b ‘It still goes on: football and the heritage of the Great War in Britain’, Journal of Heritage Tourism 9(3) (197-211).

2014c ‘It still goes on: trauma and the memory of the First World War’, in M. Sokolowska-Paryz and M. Löeschnigg (eds.) Great War in Post-Memory Literature, Drama and Film. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, pp. pp.43-58.

2014d Sad shires and no man’s land: First World War frames of reference in the British media representation of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Media, War & Conflict 7(3) (291-308).

2015a 'Framing the Great War in Britain: Mediated Memories', in B. Ziino (ed.) Remembering the First World War. London and New York: Routledge, pp.59-73.

2015b 'It still goes on: football and the heritage of the Great War in Britain', in G. Ramshaw (ed.) Sport Heritage. London and New York: Routledge, pp.10-25.

2015c 'Playful Heritage: excavating Ancient Greece in New York City', International Journal of Heritage Studies 21(5) (476-492).

2015d 'Remembering and Forgetting Sites of Reform in New York', International Journal of Heritage Studies 21(6) (545-560).

2015e ‘Still fighting in the trenches: ‘war discourse’ and the memory of the First World War in Britain’, Memory Studies 8(4) 454-469.

2015f ‘Surveying New Sites: Landscapes and Archaeologies of the Internet’, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 2(1) 72-78.

2015g ‘The past and present war: political cartoons and the memory of the First World War in Britain’, European Comic Art 8(3) 83-102.

2016a ‘War Discourse: still talking about the First World War in Britain, 1914-2014’, in J. Walker and C. Declercq (eds.) Languages and the First World War: Representation and Memory, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.237-248.

2016b ‘Witnessing and affect: making new spaces to remember the Great War in Britain’, in D. Drozdzewski, S. De Nardi and Emma Waterton (eds.) Memory, Place and Identity: commemoration and remembrance of war and conflict, London: Routledge, pp.221-235.


2007 Putting down roots – York’s Allotment Gardens, Exhibition at the Bedern Hall, York. September 2007.


2010 with T. Cardow and J. Ward, Putting Down Roots: The History of York’s Allotments. York: Sessions Publishers.


2007: Author and Editor, 1807 Commemorated Project:

2007: Author and Editor, 1807 Commemorated Toolkit:


2007 The History and Contemporary Usage of York’s Public Gardens, Report held by the City of York Council, United Kingdom.

2009a 1807 Commemorated - Report to the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, United Kingdom.

2009b 1807 Commemorated – Report to the International Slavery Museum, United Kingdom.

2009c 1807 Commemorated – Report to the Museum in Docklands, United Kingdom.

2009d 1807 Commemorated – Report to the National Maritime Museum, United Kingdom.

2009e 1807 Commemorated – Report to the British Museum, United Kingdom

2009f 1807 Commemorated – Report to Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, United Kingdom



My research background is varied, taking approaches from archaeology, anthropology, literature and sociology to examine aspects of modern history and its representation in the present. I have research interests in modern British history and the history of the United States and I have written widely on issues of conflict, consumerism, identity, enslavement, literature, museums, heritage, urbanism, landscapes and material culture.

In 2012, Routledge published my first book, Landscapes of the Western Front: Materiality during the Great War, which provided an anthropologically-informed examination of the British soldiers on the battlefields of France and Flanders during the First World War.

This work then developed into an assessment of how the Great War (1914-1918) is valued and used across contemporary British society. This analysis of cultural history and heritage assesses how individuals and communities use the memory of the conflict to understand current political and social contexts. This work, Cultural Heritage of the Great War in Britain, was published by Ashgate in July 2013.

I continued my examination of the experience of the First World War with the 2014 publication with Ashgate, New York and the First World War: shaping an American city. This work examined how the conflict of 1914-1918 had a dramatic effect on the citizens of New York, ensuring that a city of immigrants, which was perceived as a potential threat within the wider United States, was reformed during the war as a metropolis which was dedicated to the principles of the nation.

In conjunction with this research, I have also been involved with the 1807 Commemorated project at the University of York which provided one of the major assessments of the marking of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in British museums in 2007. This work was published by Routledge in 2011 as Representing Enslavement and Abolition in Museums: Ambiguous Engagements.

My current research examines the history and heritage of health and safety in Britain and the United States, the representation of the First World War in British culture, the history of New York, digital heritage, memory studies and the role of museums and heritage sites as a mode of social and political reform. 

PHD Supervision

MPhil and PhD Study

I would be pleased to supervise students in any aspect of the history and memory of the First World War, modern British history, New York history, media history, popular culture, heritage studies, museum studies, tourism studies and landscape studies.  

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