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Alana Harris joined the department in 2015, having spent six years in Oxford as the Darby Fellow in History at Lincoln College and before that as a British Academy Research Development Award post-doctoral researcher (and Hardie Fellow also at Lincoln College).

Dr Harris’ undergraduate training was at the University of Melbourne, where she obtained her first class honours degrees in History (majoring in Medieval and Renaissance history) and Law. She gained her Masters of Divinity (High Distinction) from the University of Divinity in Melbourne, with majors in church history and systematic theology.

Following her first careers in corporate law and the civil service, funding from the Newman College Archbishop Mannix Travelling Scholarship and the University of Melbourne Edith and Rae Bennett Travelling Scholarship allowed her to undertake her MSt and DPhil in Modern History at Wadham College, Oxford. During this doctoral research, she also held Lectureships at Hertford College and Exeter College, Oxford and was a co-investigator on the Oxford Leverhulme Diaspora Programme (2011-2016).

Dr Harris is a member of the Editorial Board of British Catholic History (CUP), and The London Journal (T&F) a Steering Committee member for the Women’s History Network, and has acted as a historical consultant for the BBC and the Young Vic.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Religion and Secularization
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Modern History of London
  • Ethnicity and Diasporic identities
  • Ritual, Material Cultures and Pilgrimage
  • Film, Visual Sources and Oral History

Dr Harris’ research interests broadly span issues related to British identity in the nineteenth and twentieth century, encompassing gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality and religiosity. She is particularly interested in the manifestation of these self-definitions and understandings, individually and collectively, through ritual and performance, pilgrimage, material and visual cultures and spatial and narrative practices. Her new research work is exploring understandings of 'modern love', romance, contraception and sexuality through the 'long 1960s'. 

For more information, please see her full research profile.

Alana Harris would particularly welcome applications from students who wish to work on:

  • contemporary Catholicism and Catholic devotional cultures;
  • modern religious identities in Britain and throughout the British empire;
  • gender history in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, spanning women’s history, masculinities and ‘modern’ sexual knowledge and contraception;
  • social and cultural aspects of the history of London in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries; and
  • the intersections between religious identities and healing, therapeutic cultures, and psychology, including the history of emotions.


Dr Harris teaches modules encompassing the history of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on the history of London and modern constructions and experiences of gender identities, ethnicity and sexuality.

She is also interested in the interdisciplinary connections between history and other branches of the humanities and social sciences, particularly anthropology, cultural geography, theology and sociology. These theoretical interests encompass the development of varied historiographical approaches to the study of the past and the diversification of source materials used for this study (especially the use of visual sources, film, material culture and life narratives). 

Expertise and public engagement

Dr Harris is member of the Steering Committee for the Women’s History Network, the Centre for Church Growth Research (St John’s College, University of Durham) and a member of the Executive Board for the AHRC-funded project ‘Pilgrimage and England’s Cathedrals, Past and Present’ (Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, University of York).

She has provided advice to television and radio production companies in the preparation of programmes on modern Catholicism, pilgrimage, queer London and historical approaches to mission and evangelisation. Her expertise also encompasses areas of contemporary religious pluralism in Britain and the intersections between religion and migration.

Dr Harris is a regular, commissioned contributor to The Tablet (an international Catholic weekly magazine) and a (lay) representative on the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Committee.

Within these areas of expertise, encompassing gender, religion and migration, Dr Harris contributes to the History and Policy network.