Karine Varley

Dr

  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am a historian of modern Europe and have published widely on modern French history and war in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am a graduate of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, the University of Leeds, and Royal Holloway, University of London. Prior to my appointment at Strathclyde, I was Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Durham and then Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Edinburgh. Before moving into an academic career, I worked in financial services in London, specialising in Corporate Tax.

My latest book, Vichy's Double Bind: French Collaboration between Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2023. It advances a significant new interpretation of French collaboration during the Second World War, offering a fresh perspective on debates about Vichy France and collaboration with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. I also co-edited A Fascist Decade of War: 1935-45 in International Perspective, published by Routledge in 2020.

I am currently working on a new project, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, entitled ‘Moralising Violence: The Franco-British Bombing of France in World War Two’. This builds on my earlier project on Franco-British relations, which involved collaborations with the British Embassy in Paris and the French Embassy in London.

I also work on the memory and impact of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. My book, Under the Shadow of Defeat: The War of 1870-71 in French Memory (Palgrave, 2008), is the first wide-ranging analysis of how memories of the Franco-Prussian War impacted upon French political culture and identities. My forthcoming edited volume, The Franco-Prussian War: Turning-Points in European Experiences and Perceptions of Military Conflict, will be published by Routledge in 2024.

I regularly engage with the media. I have appeared in several international television documentaries, including productions for Netflix, StudioCanal and Arte (France and Germany). I have also been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am currently the Treasurer of the Society for the Study of French History.

Research Interests

My research interests lie primarily in the following areas:

  • Vichy France
  • The Franco-Prussian War 
  • French-Italian relations in the Second World War
  • Memory and commemoration of war
  • Relations between Britain and France in the Second World War
  • Corsican nationalism, history and politics

My second book, Vichy's Double Bind: French Collaboration between Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2023) advances a significant new interpretation of French collaboration during the Second World War. Arguing that the path to collaboration involved not merely Nazi Germany but Fascist Italy, it suggests that the Vichy French government was caught in a double bind. On the one hand, many of the threats to France's territory, colonial empire and power came from Rome as well as Berlin. On the other, Vichy was caught between the irreconcilable yet inescapable positions of the two Axis governments. Unable to resolve the conflict, Vichy sought to play the two Axis powers against each other. By exploring French dealings with Italy at diplomatic, military and local levels in France and its colonial empire, this book reveals the multi-dimensional and multi-directional nature of Vichy's policy. It therefore challenges many enduring conceptions of collaboration with reference to Franco-German relations and offers a fresh perspective on debates about Vichy France and collaboration with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. This research was supported by grants from the British Academy and Carnegie Trust.

My new project, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is a case study designed to support a broader historical investigation of Franco-British violence towards ‘friendly populations’ during the Second World War in Europe and the French colonies. 

Teaching Interests

I teach the following undergraduate and postgraduate classes:

V1217 Modern Europe

V1303/V1440 France at War, 1870-1962

V1399/1706 Identity War and Revolution in Europe, 1789-1918

R1107/8 French Language 1a/1b

R1203/4 French Language 2a/2b

R1215 French Culture and History 2

R1315 French Culture and History 3

R1408 France since 1945

R1502 French Language (Interpreting)

R1506 French Studies 4 (Core Class)

History and French Dissertations

 

Postgraduate teaching:

V1977 War, Sacrifice and the Nation in Europe, 1789-1918

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Nineteenth and twentieth century French History
  • Second World War, especially Vichy France, French-Italian relations and relations between Britain and France
  • Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871
  • Corsican nationalism and identity

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Keywords

  • French History
  • French-Italian relations
  • Nationalism
  • Corsica
  • World War Two

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