Tom Packer's research focuses on American conservatism in the second half of the 20th century. His doctorate at Oxford provided a revisionist account of Senator Jesse Helms, the leading ultra-conservative senator, and of the political culture of his native North Carolina. He is currently turning his thesis into a book, provisionally entitled 'Jesse Helms, the Rise of Southern Republicanism and the End of the Old South', which extends the chronological focus of the doctorate into the period between the 1986 congressional elections and Helms’s retirement in 2002.
He is also editing a volume entitled 'Rethinking the US Right', a collection of papers from a June 2013 conference on 'American Conservatism: Rethinking the US Right' and including topics such as the divisions in 1950s conservatism and the links between contemporary US conservatism and UK conservatism.
Dr Packer's next project, with the working title 'Southern Republicans: The Rise of the Southern Right', will broaden his analysis of Jesse Helms and North Carolina conservatism into a history of post-war Southern politics. It will assess both the rise of the Republican Party and the ‘Second Reconstruction’ and the limits of these phenomena.