Drawing on a background in literary history and cultural discourse, Cathy Bergin's primary research interests are in the politics of 'race' and African-American and Caribbean writing, focussing on cultural formations and Communist politics during the Depression. 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.
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. She has lectured at the University of Brighton since 2005 and organises the successful research seminar series in Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics.
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.
Bergin, Catherine (2016) Key Texts in Anti-Colonial Thought: African American Anti-Colonial Texts 1917-1937 [Edited Collections]
Bergin, Catherine and Rupprecht, Anita (2016) History, agency and the representation of ‘race’ – an introduction Race & Class, 57 (3). pp. 3-17. ISSN 0306-3968
Bergin, Catherine (2016) "Unrest Among the Negroes": the African Blood Brotherhood and the politics of resistance Race & Class, 57 (3). pp. 45-58. ISSN 0306-3968
Bergin, Catherine (2015) 'Bitter with the Past but Sweet with the Dream': Communism in the African American Imaginary Historical Materialism . Brill, Netherlands. ISBN 9789004263727
Bergin, Catherine (2013) “The Rotten, Lousy, Stinking, Double Crossing Communists!”: The Communist Party and Chester Himes’ Lonely Crusade In: Moriah, Kristin, ed. Black writers and the Left. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 14-32. ISBN 9781443841252
Bergin, Catherine (2006) Race/ class politics: the Liberator, 1929-1934 Race and Class, 47 (4). pp. 86-104. ISSN 0306 3968
"Chester Himes, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright: Communism and the lived experience of 'race'" an interview with Cathy Bergin in Periode, an online journal of Marxist Theory (March 2018)
"Searching for the Truth of Vietnam" (Review of Veteran Narratives and the Collective Memory of the Vietnam War by John A. Wood ) in History Today (September 2016)
Review of Commemorating the Holocaust: The Dilemmas of Remembrance in France and Italy by Rebecca Clifford in History Today (May 2014)
Review of The Event of Literature by Terry Eagleton in Irish Marxist Review (Volume 1: 2, 2012)
“‘Race’ and African American ‘protest novel’” at The Novel: Democracy’s Form? Conference University of Sussex 2007
‘‘“Let hate gather and rumble and rise”: Race and Class in The Harlem Liberator’ Philosophy Politics Aesthetics Seminar Series, University of Brighton 2008
'On ‘Race’, Universalism and the Novel' IOTA seminar series University of Brighton 2010
‘Democracy and the Novel’ Problems of Democracy Conference Prague, Czech Republic 2010
‘September 11th and the limits of liberal humanism: The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ at The “9/11” Decade: Rethinking Reality CAPPE conference University of Brighton 2011
"Historicising the Novel" at Historical Materialism Conference, SOAS, November 2012
‘“TOWARDS SOVIET AMERICA”: The Communist Party of the United States and questions of race and colonialism’ at The Postcolonial Literatures Research Group of The Open University and The Institute of English Studies Senate House, London, May 2013
“‘Literature’, the state and sexual violence” (with Patricia McManus) at the Representation, Politics and Violence CAPPE conference, University of Brighton September 2013
"Communist Anti-Racism in the US: The Crusader 1919-1922" at the British Sociological Association Conference, University of Leeds, April 2014
"The Politicisation of Everyday life" (with Patricia McManus) at the Neoliberalism and Everyday Life CAPPE conference, University of Brighton September 2014
"'Seeking to Foment Unrest Among the Negroes': The African Blood Brotherhood and the politics of resistance" at the Reparative Histories conference, University of Brighton September 2014
"'Hatred there must be': African American agency & Communism during the Depression" at The Northern Bridge American History Colloquium, Queens University Belfast, March 2015
“Radical black politics and ‘Irish Freedom’ 1916-1922”, at Easter 1916 in Global Context, Belfast Working Class History Group, Markets Community Centre, Belfast, March 2015"
"Game On: Dystopia, Gender and Resistance in The Hunger Games" (with Patricia McManus) at the Utopias CAPPE conference, Universtity of Brighton, September 2015
"Reparative Histories: Trauma and Politics" (with Anita Rupprecht) at Repairing the Past, Imagining the Future: Reparations and Beyond conference, University of Edinburgh and Wheelock College, Boston, November 2015
"Reparative Histories: Radical Narratives of Race and Resistance" launch for special edition of Race & Class (with Antita Rupprecht) at the Institute of Race Relations, London, February, 2016
“Reparative Histories: history, agency and the representation of ‘race’” (with Anita Rupprecht) at the Philosophy, Politics, Aesthetics Seminar series, University of Brighton, March 2016
"The Twenty-First Century Novel: Securing or Securitising Space?" (with Patricia McManus) at the Bloomsbury
C21 Conference: Writing and Insecurity, March, 2016
"Internationalism and black agency in the African American radical Press (1918-1924)" at the Marxism in Culture Seminar series, Institute of Historical Research, University of London, April 2016
"'The Irish fight for liberty is the greatest Epic of Modern History’ : The Irish revolution and African American radicals" at London Socialist Historians Group Conference: 100 years since the Easter Rising , Senate House, London, April 2016
"Radical ‘race’ politics and the 1916 Easter Rising" at the CAPPE Radical Interventions conference, Universtity of Brighton, September 2016
“African American Anti-Colonial Thought: 1917-1937” (with David Johnson) Book Launch and Seminar, November 2016
"Multicultural resistance and reparative histories" (with Anita Rupprecht) at Reparative Histories II: The Making Unmaking and Remaking of 'Race' conference, University of Brighton, April 2017
"Transnational Anti-Fascisms" panel at the 'Ruptures, Empires, Revolutions ' conference, European Congress on World and Global History, Budapest, September 2017
“Anti-Fascism and African American Volunteers in the International Brigades “ at the Empire, Capital & Transnational Resistance conference (CAPPE) University of Brighton, September 2017
"Bolshevism and African American Agency in the African American Radical Press" (Keynote) The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic Conference, at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR), University of Central Lancashire, (UCLan), Preston, UK, October 2017
"Black Bolsheviks: Race, Class and the Russian Revolution", Thinking the Politics of Race: CAPPE Public Lecture Series, Brighton, October 2017.
2001 British Council Chevening Scholarship
2007 British Academy Conference Grant, "The Novel: Democracy's Form" University of Sussex
2014-15 University of Brighton Research Sabbatical Scheme