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Personal profile

Research interests

Rebecca Searle is a historian whose work focuses on the ways in which the study of the past can be used to make critical interventions in the politics of the present. She established and co-ordinates the Housing Forum, an initiative to bring together academics, community organisations and policy makers to develop local solutions to the housing crisis. Her research interests include the history of the housing crisis; the global history of contemporary capitalism; the history of twentieth century Britain; and war and conflict in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She is the Course leader for BA (Hons) War, Conflict and Modernity degree within the Humanities programme.

Scholarly biography

Dr Rebecca Searle is a contemporary historian with particular research specialisms in the histories of housing, capitalism, twentieth century Britain, terrorism and warfare. She is Course leader for BA (Hons) War, Conflict and Modernity degree within the Humanities programme.  She is committed to interdisciplinary research and is excited by the potential of different disciplinary approaches to enrich historical practice. She is a member of the Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories, and of the research cluster Understanding Conflict: Forms and Legacies of Violence.

Rebecca completed her BA and MA in Contemporary History at the University of Sussex. In 2006, she was awarded an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award and worked in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum and the University of Sussex in preparation of her DPhil entitled “Art, Propaganda and the Experience of Aerial Warfare in Britain, 1939-1945”. In 2013 she was awarded a Paul Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship with Yale University to develop her thesis into a monograph.

Subsequently Rebecca worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Economic History at the University of Sussex. She was first employed on the ESRC project The Living Standards of Working Households in Britain, 1904-1960She was then part of a team who were awarded a £1.15m ESRC Grant for The Global Income Inequality Project.

In her research Rebecca seeks to reintegrate economic perspectives into social, cultural and political history in order to critically interrogate the contemporary world. She is currently writing a history of the housing crisis with particular focus on the history of the private rented sector.

Supervisory Interests

Rebecca supervises students researching contemporary British History. She has particular expertise in the history of housing, the politics of property and the impact of war on society. She works with students across social, political, cultural and economic history and with students specialising in politics or philosophy who want to incorporate historical analysis into their research. 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Sussex

Master, University of Sussex

Bachelor, University of Sussex


  • D204 Modern History
  • Britain
  • Political history
  • economic history
  • social history
  • housing
  • capitalism
  • D731 World War II
  • D839 Post-war History, 1945 on

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Research Output

  • 3 Article
  • 1 Book - authored
  • 1 Book Review
  • 1 Other contribution

Art, Propaganda and Aerial Warfare in Britain during the Second World War

Searle, R., 31 Jul 2019, (Accepted/In press) Bloomsbury Academic. (New Directions in Social and Cultural History)

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored

The poor and the poorest, 50 years on: evidence from British Household Expenditure Surveys of the 1950s and 1960s

Gazeley, I., Gutierrez Rufrancos, H., Newell, A., Reynolds, K. & Searle, R., 9 Apr 2016, In : Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A. 180, 2, p. 455-474 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • Is there anything real about real wages? A history of the official British cost of living index, 1914–62

    Searle, R., 13 Jun 2014, In : Economic History Review. 68, 1, p. 145-166 22 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • The War Artists' Advisory Committee and the Bombing of Germany

    Searle, R., 1 Jan 2014, Sri Lanka : Making History, Colombo Art Biennale.

    Research output: Other contribution

  • Activities

    • 3 Invited talk

    The History of the Housing Crisis

    Rebecca Searle (Presenter)
    25 Jun 2018

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk

    The History of the Housing Crisis

    Rebecca Searle (Presenter)
    11 Apr 2018

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk

    Why are we paying so much rent?

    Rebecca Searle (Presenter)
    26 Oct 2017

    Activity: External talk or presentationInvited talk