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Mara Oliva

Mara Oliva

Areas of interest

I am a political historian and a digital humanist. I work at the intersection of history and digital technologies. My research focuses on twentieth-century US foreign policy history, particularly the US presidency, Soft Power, Climate Change Diplomacy and US-China relations. I am also the University’s Digital Humanities Academic Champion. In my role, I promote an understanding of Digital Humanities as a discipline within the University, and the integration of cultures and principles from Digital Humanities into wider research practice. I lead the Community of Practice and provide mentoring and subject-specific advice for digital research projects.

Postgraduate supervision

I am supervising PhD research on:

  • Aid, Oil and Human Rights: Re-evaluating U.S.-Guatemalan Relations, 1981-1986 (Richard Bolzano)
  • The Relationship between the United States and the Italian right-wing during the Nixon Administration (David Cardillo)


Previous PhD Supervision

  • Spies, Civil Liberties, and the Senate: The 1975 Church Committee (Dr Dafydd Townley, funded GTA studentship 2015-2018)
  • Cultural diplomacy and the Anglo-American 'Special Relationship' in the Middle East (Dr Darius Wainwright, 2016-2019)

Postgraduate research teaching/skills

Digital History

Digital Archives



  • Year 1: Journeys Through History: People, Power and Revolution
  • Year 2: The American Century
  • Year 3: The US and the Cold War
  • Year 3: The US and China in the Historical Context, 1882-1989
  • Year 3: Dissertation Supervision

Postgraduate MA (postgraduate taught)

  • Option: The US and China in the Cold War
  • Theory and Themes: Diplomatic History
  • Historical Skills and Resources: Digital History
  • Dissertation Supervision

Research centres and groups

Awards and honours

External Funding

  • 2021, British Academy, Co-I for Project: Researching the felt and lived experiences of in/security: a methodological exchange.
  • 2021, British Academy, Co-I for Project: The Vulnerability Studies Network.
  • 2020, British Academy UK-Canada Knowledge Transfer grant. Project: US Environmental Security.
  • 2020, British Association of American Studies/US Embassy Small Grants. Project: Women and BAME Women in US Foreign Policy.
  • 2020, AHRC/UKRI Engaging with Government Programme 2020.
  • 2020, Institute for Economic and Social Research and Policy, Columbia University, New York City, Digital History Fellowship.
  • 2017, British Association of American Studies Research Grant.
  • 2014, Scouloudi Historical Award, Institute of Historical Research.
  • 2014, European Association for American Studies Small Research Grant.
  • 2010, Fulbright Award.
  • 2009, Royal Historical Society Individual Research Grant.

Research Awards

  • 2020, Society of Historians of US Foreign Policy Global Scholar award for paper: “A Public Diplomacy Failure: Eisenhower and the US press in China”
  • 2019, ECR Research Output Prize (second prize) for Heritage & Creativity Research Division, University of Reading, for monograph: Eisenhower and American Public Opinion on China (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018)
  • 2017, UROP Supervisor of the Year Award, University of Reading
  • 2017, UROP Project Award for Heritage & Creativity Research Division, University of Reading (student: Beth Snyder)

Teaching Awards

  • 2021, Winner of the RUSU Excellence Award, Academic Tutor, University of Reading.
  • 2019, Nominated for the RUSU Teaching Excellence Award, University of Reading.
  • 2018, Nominated for the RUSU Teaching Excellence Award, University of Reading.
  • 2017, Nominated for the RUSU Teaching Excellence Award, University of Reading.
  • 2015, Nominated for the RUSU Personal Tutor Award, University of Reading.
  • 2015, Winner of the RUSU Research-led Teaching Award, University of Reading.


Twitter: @maraolivaPhD

Impact and public engagement

 Appearances on BBC Radio 4, BBC5Live, BBC Radio Ulster, TRT

Articles for the Conversation, the Geopolitics, Corriere della Sera and Alem-Mar

 Contribution to 2021, House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, “A climate for ambition: Diplomatic preparations for COP26” report.

External Roles


  • Oliva, M. (2020) Nixon in China. In: Morgan, I. and White, M. , (eds.) The Presidential Image: A History from Theodore Roosevelt to Donald Trump. I.B. Tauris , London. ISBN: 97811788313599