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Personal profile

Research interests

Drawing on a background in literary history and cultural discourse, Cathy Bergin's primary research interests are in the politics of 'race' and colonialism in  African-American and Caribbean writing, focussing on cultural formations and Communist politics in the 20th Century. She is particularly interested in the concept of 'rage' as the expression of black historical consciousness and agency.

Cathy has lectured in historical and critical studies at the university since 2005 and organises the long-standing Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics research seminar series.



Supervisory Interests

Bergin has supervised MA theses in the field of African American culture, Caribbean literature and Holocaust Representation. She is currenly supervising Phd theses in Belizean women's writing, post-modern memorialisation, nazi persecution of homosexual men,  country music and change in the American South  and post-war stream of conciousness fiction. She is interested in supporting research in the following areas: African American Writing; Slavery and Representation; Caribbean culture and Identity; Marxist literary history; post-colonialism; Holocaust memorialisation; novel studies.

Scholarly biography

Cathy Bergin works primarily on the politics of 'race' and African-American and Caribbean writing, focussing on African-American cultural formations and Communist politics during the Depression. Her interests cover the historical discourses of black Communist radicalism and their relationship to literary and cultural representations of black political identity. She is particularly interested in the concept of 'rage' as the expression of black historical consciousness and agency.

Studying the relationship between Caribbean migrant radicals in the US and Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, Cathy Bergin demonstrates how former subjects of the British colonialism, living in a highly segregated new society, forged politicised identities across the boundaries of 'race'. In focusing on the concrete historical and political identities of US Caribbean radicals and their complex location within British colonial and American racial discourses, she is interested in tracing those moments of transnational  political identification which confound  tired configurations of black identity which proliferate within many strands of post-colonial and African American theoretical models. In collaboration with Anita Rupprecht she has broadened this area of study to inaugurate the concept of 'Reparative Histories' which traces the complex articulations of black agency in the archive that have challenged liberal paradigms of  'freedom'. This project is centrally concerned with the way in which claims on the past are determined by contemporary politics of 'race' and the particular ways in which those claims occlude the centrality of the black radical tradition to the making of the the modern world. 

Cathy Bergin completed her first degree in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin and was awarded a British Council Chevening Scholarship in 1997 to pursue her Masters degree in Literary History and Cultural Discourse at the University of Sussex. Her DPhil, which concentrated on African-American literary representations of the Communist Party, was awarded by the University of Sussex in 2004.  

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racism Social Sciences
October Revolution (1917) Social Sciences
politics Social Sciences
national border Social Sciences
radicalism Social Sciences
colonial age Social Sciences
trauma Social Sciences
modernity Social Sciences

Research Output 2006 2018

Reparative histories: tracing narratives of black resistance and white entitlement

Bergin, C. & Rupprecht, A. 21 May 2018 60, 1, p. 22-37 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Narrative History
White Supremacy

The Russian Revolution and Black Radicalism in the United States

Bergin, C. 6 Apr 2018 68

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
October Revolution (1917)
capitalist society
socialist movement

History, agency and the representation of ‘race’ – an introduction

Bergin, C. & Rupprecht, A. 18 Jan 2016 57, 3, p. 3-17 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
national border

Key Texts in Anti-Colonial Thought: African American Anti-Colonial Texts 1917-1937

Bergin, C. (ed.) 1 Jul 2016 Edinburgh. 274 p. (Key Texts in Anti Colonial Thought:)

Research output: Book/ReportBook - edited

colonial age

Activities 2008 2017

  • 18 Oral presentation
  • 8 Invited talk
  • 1 Editorial work