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Preview: History Workshop Journal - current issue

History Workshop Journal Current Issue





Published: Wed, 07 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2017 00:52:42 GMT

 



Radical Histories

2017-06-07

In 2016 it was twenty years since the death of Raphael Samuel, historian and inspiration for History Workshop. To mark his memory the Centre for History named after him, together with History Workshop Journal, devised a conference in which the project of radical history in our own times could be debated. In the same spirit, Felix Driver has brought together a special virtual issue of History Workshop Journal comprised of Samuel’s contributions to the journal for the first twenty years of its life (http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/history-workshop-journal-virtual-special-issue-raphael-samuel/). How is the radicalness of ‘radical’ history to be determined? Where, today, are radical histories located? Several hundred people gathered at Queen Mary University of London in July 2016 to discuss these questions. In the event, not for the first time, history moved faster than we did. The Brexit vote had just occurred. Indeed, as it turned out, the bulk of the editorial work for this issue of HWJ was undertaken in the period between the EU referendum, in June, and the election of Trump, in November. Each in its way can be perceived as a resurgence of a certain radical sensibility. But not in the way that we’d imagined. History looks significantly different at the end of the year than it did at the start. The crisis in the old political order, in Europe and in North America, is deepening; illiberalism in India, the world’s largest democracy, points toward right-wing, nationalist, populist sentiment. New dangers press in close. Reflection on where we are historically calls for sustained work.






Radical History Then and Now

2017-06-07

Abstract
In July 2016 the Radical Histories/Histories of Radicalism conference was held in London, commemorating twenty years since the death of Raphael Samuel and forty years since the founding of History Workshop Journal. In the opening plenary session I was one of the speakers asked to reflect upon the theme ‘Radical history then and now’. The conference came soon after the UK referendum on EU membership, preceded during the campaign by the use and misuse of immigrant histories, stories of belonging and not-belonging and charged debates about what it is to be British, and what Britain should be in the future. It was with these debates and conversations in mind that I reflected upon my past twenty years or so researching Black British Histories, particularly the lives of Black Victorian women in London. I had begun to do so because so little work was being undertaken when I began historical research as an undergraduate student, and in July 2016 it felt that despite positive, albeit limited, changes under New Labour governments were being successfully undermined by a resurgent political right. The piece below is a version of the thoughts I presented at the conference.



Abe Lazarus and the Lost World of British Communism

2017-06-07

Abstract
Researching the life of Abe Lazarus, a leading Communist Party figure in 1930s Britain, raises important wider questions about how to investigate ‘mass leaders’ in the era after the Cold War. With the availability of more archives, including ‘official’ Security Service (MI5) files and ‘unofficial’ personal memoirs, there is now the possibility of exploring past communist lives in greater depth and free from traditional orthodoxies. In the case of Lazarus, while there has been some recognition of the leading role he played in the Pressed Steel and Cutteslowe Walls disputes and anti-fascist politics in interwar Oxford, the later period of his political career has remained something of a mystery. Arthur Exell, former Morris Motors worker and Communist Party comrade of Lazarus, began a biography in the early 1980s under the supervision of Raphael Samuel, who prompted him to consider not only what Lazarus’s political activism achieved in the thirties but also more difficult times later and the ways in which Lazarus’s later life might be said to reflect the wider predicaments of the Communist Party. Exell never completed his work. This article addresses those questions with the aid of new material and, with the purpose of exploring Lazarus’s political life in its widest context, it draws on Samuel’s The Lost World of British Communism.



Race, Prostitution and the New Left: the Postwar Inner City through Janet Mendelsohn’s ‘Social Eye’

2017-06-07

Abstract
This article examines the changing dynamics of a postwar British inner-city through the photographic lens of Janet Mendelsohn, an American student at the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Between 1967 and 1969 Mendelsohn took more than 3,000 photographs and conducted scores of interviews with her subjects, although hitherto her work has remained largely unknown. Through her focus on Balsall Heath, one of the country’s largest ‘red light’ districts, Mendelsohn’s work offers a window onto the significant changes taking place there, which included the arrival and settlement of immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia, the advancement of slum clearance and growing anxieties about prostitution. Through the distinctiveness of her ‘social eye’ and emphasis on the life of a single sex-worker in Balsall Heath this article shows how Mendelsohn was able to foreground the ambiguous, contradictory nature of the social practices that took place there.



Sisterhood and Squatting in the 1970s: Feminism, Housing and Urban Change in Hackney

2017-06-07

Abstract
By the mid 1970s an estimated 20–30,000 people throughout Greater London had reclaimed, repaired and squatted thousands of empty dwellings earmarked for demolition. This historic spatial configuration of the city allowed the radical social and political movements of the 1970s to flourish, as groups of like-minded people began to live and work in close proximity. For women, it enabled experiments in collective living and shared childcare and for some feminists, active in the Women’s Liberation Movement, it provided the framework for an extensive network of women-only housing, together with social and political spaces. Squats provided the spatial infrastructure for feminist activism in 1970s London, found in women’s centres, refuges, nurseries, bookshops, art centres and workshops. This paper examines the origins of a community of women, many of them lesbians, who moved in and squatted houses in a number of streets in a Hackney neighbourhood. Through oral testimony it uncovers the historical importance of this community, which provided an opportunity for women to live autonomously, connected to wider feminist politics in London, and enabled women to take control over their immediate built environment.



History Workshop and its Legacies

2017-05-04

I first encountered History Workshop through the pages of the journal, in 1976–77, and then I met it embodied in members of its collective, at the Oral History conference at Essex in March 1979. It was an emotional conference, the first one in which many of us oral historians from various countries confronted our experiences. A crucial legacy of HW is the continuation of the convergence we discovered then in conceiving the role of history as ‘bringing the boundaries of history closer to people’s lives’, by paying attention to the daily aspects of social life, such as various forms of subjectivity (imagination included), material culture, gender differences and so on. This went together with the effort to cross the divide separating theory and empirical practice in history – which meant also to find links between history and other disciplines – as well as to present the steps taken in historical enquiry, not only its results. This legacy has been transformed through the years (actually the decades) between then and now. The subjects of history have become much more numerous, being now not only the ones we started with, such as workers and women, but people of all cultures and ages. (The journal’s subtitle used to give some indication of this: A Journal of Socialist Historians from 1976–1982 (issues 1–12), then from issue 13 till issue 38 A Journal of Socialist and Feminist Historians. With a dramatic redesign of the cover from issue 39 (spring 1995) the subtitle was dropped altogether because there was too much to include.)



Metropolitan Geographies of Debt, 1700–1900

2017-04-27

Abstract for White
Debt was one of the great drivers of geographical mobility in eighteenth and nineteenth-century London, as lodgers and tenants shifted around the city to escape the consequences of money owed to local shopkeepers and landlords. Much of this movement was random, affecting every part of the city. Some parts of London, however, were distinctively shaped by the complications of the credit nexus. From the middle ages onwards, debtors’ sanctuaries had established themselves where debtors claimed immunity from arrest by bailiffs acting on behalf of creditors. At the end of the seventeenth century these ‘pretended privileged places’ were suppressed by parliament, but their character lingered on. A number of these neighbourhoods were especially prominent and long-lived in Southwark where two of the great metropolitan debtors’ prisons, the King’s Bench and the Marshalsea, had a distorting effect on the local housing market. The peculiar notoriety of the slums of Southwark outlived for generations the passing of the old sanctuaries and the closure of the prisons. The spatial effects of debt even persisted in the suburbs of late-nineteenth-century London where several recently-built districts won a reputation for indebtedness, earning them the title of ‘Sloper’s Islands’.



Legacies of French Slave-Ownership, or the Long Decolonization of Saint-Domingue

2017-04-27

Abstract
After insurgent slaves in Saint-Domingue proclaimed the colony’s independence from France in 1804, France refused to recognize the new state of Haiti. When it finally did so in 1825, it was with gunboats outside Haitian harbors, and in exchange for favourable terms of trade and an indemnity of 150 million French francs to be paid to the former planters for the loss of their landed property. Although King Charles X and his advisors intended the indemnity to bring liquidity into the hands of a class deemed essential to restoration politics, in the event it did not achieve this goal. While the indemnity paid to British former slave-owners after the abolition of 1833 served in part as venture-capital for British industrial expansion, the Haitian indemnity and other payments to former planters cultivated a different legacy of slave-ownership: a preoccupation with lost grandeur with a politics of resentment. This legacy was fed in no small part by the protracted nature of the payments, which encouraged planters’ descendants to continue the financial claims of their forebears, investing them with emotional significance. The article explores the more than a century-long process of ‘decolonizing’ Saint-Domingue and its significance for the culture of French imperialism.



History Workshops in Egypt: an Experiment in History Telling

2017-04-27

Abstract
This project has focused on one central idea – making histories accessible, especially marginal histories of mainstream revolutionary events. I have sought to achieve this in two ways. The first is to create spaces through workshops – for groups of students, artists and activists – to re-explore revolutionary moments in history and challenge how they have been told; the second is to build a website containing archives (retrieved by my own research or donated by generous historians of Egypt) to make the sources of these narratives accessible. In this article I trace the experience of two of these history workshops – the first held on the Nubian Island of Suhail in Aswan, and the second in the city of Port Said. In each case we explored the invisible histories of the communities, silenced because of the oppositional narratives they harbour. The workshops became an attempt to create a critical consciousness of how history is written and could be read, through exploring primary sources: the archives, oral testimonies, newspapers, novels, the internet and even architectural sites. But most importantly, the workshops also explored ways to ‘re-tell’ retrieved narratives. Through reproducing these histories in non-academic forms (such as story-telling and film), we hoped to make these untapped narratives accessible both to the aspiring (non) historian, and to the communities whose histories we explored. For further information see https://historyworkshopsegypt.net.



Race, Anti-Caste and the Victorians

2017-04-20

BresseyCaroline, Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste,Bloomsbury, 2013, xi + 287pp, ISBN 978-1-78093-633-5



American Radicalism

2017-04-20

Abstract
Twenty years after his death, Raphael Samuel’s book Theatres of Memory remains essential reading for those interested in the nature of historical memory. Rarely, either among historians or journalists, does the discussion achieve the interpretive sophistication, the sympathetic understanding of how memory is constructed, or the insight into the connections between popular and official memory evident in Samuel’s book. Samuel also inspired research into the history of radicalism, a subject that, in the United States, has taken on renewed importance given the surprising success of the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. Having taught a course on the Radical Tradition in America as Sanders was seeking the Democratic nomination, I was struck by how the collapse of neoliberalism due to the financial crisis of 2008 and recent movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter have led a generation of young Americans to think in new ways about social change. Historians of radicalism, and historians who consider themselves radicals, need to follow Samuel’s lead in using history as a critical lens for understanding society and pointing the way to a better future.



Japan, Global History, and the Great Silence

2017-04-11

Abstract
A young Japanese woman called Usa Hashimoto disembarks on Thursday Island, Queensland, in September 1897. Two months later, she briefly recounts her story to a British colonial official. What does her testimony mean for the way we write global history? Who, indeed, are the ‘we’ in global history? This experimental essay, divided into ten parts, revisits the question of ‘silence’ in history in order to argue that structure, form and writing style should be key tools in the struggle to hear voices from the past. Bringing W.G. Sebald, Greg Dening, Minoru Hokari, Julie Otsuka and Virginia Woolf into dialogue with each other, I suggest that global history demands new forms of writing. To illustrate my point, I draw on literary techniques of framing, sequencing, intertextuality and juxtaposition in an attempt to trace what I call the ‘moving first person’ in Hashimoto’s testimony. Whether my particular constellation works or not is for readers to judge; but at the very least, I would be happy if this one experiment also sparked others.



Red Diaper Baby

2017-04-07

Abstract
In this memoir, Cora Kaplan reflects on the impact of McCarthyism on her left-wing American family in the post-war decades. A meditation on the intricate distinctions and overlap between memory and history ‘Red Diaper Baby’ uses those unreliable but potent referents, family photographs, as a route to understanding not only what has been forgotten, but what remains too difficult to confront. With Freud at her side she reads her own political and intellectual trajectory and its compromises through her own and her parents’ response to the ‘witch hunts’ of the 1950s, exploring the porous boundary between public and private for families who saw themselves as part of larger historical movements and forces. In search of new forms for thinking and writing about that intersection ‘Red Diaper Baby’ turns to the experimentalism of recent Graphic Memoir for inspiration.



Gender, Crime and Modernity

2017-04-06

BlandLucy, Modern Women on Trial: Sexual Transgression in the Age of the Flapper,Manchester University Press, 2013; 246 pp., ISBN 978 0 7190 8264 1,.



Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Canarian Imagination: the Missing Flag

2017-04-06

Abstract
This paper explores the under-represented political experience of Canarians in transatlantic networks of anti-authoritarian and anti-colonial resistance in the late nineteenth century. Much of the relevant historiographic literature, both in English and in Spanish, treats the Canary Islands as an integral part of mainland Spain. This obscures the colonial history of the Islands and the subaltern position of Canarians in Spanish imperial and racial hierarchies. In order to counterbalance this absence, I discuss the life and writings of Secundino Delgado (1867–1912), a Canarian who travelled across North, Central and South America and became involved in a number of interconnected struggles: labour rights, anarchism, and Cuban and Canarian independence movements. Delgado’s peculiarly in-between consciousness resonated with that of other Canarians and Canarian-descendants who had joined liberation struggles against Spanish imperialism across the Americas. As the first Canarian thinker to articulate a national consciousness which is also decidedly libertarian and anti-colonial, Delgado offers valuable insights into the singular history of the Canaries, their place in the transatlantic networks of resistance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and anti-colonial anarchism at large.



James Arthur Miller (1944–2015)

2017-03-29

Fig. 1.James Miller, during an event at George Washington University celebrating the career and work of John Vlach, 28 February 2013. Photo by William R. Ferris.



John Forrester (1949–2015): an Appreciation

2017-03-29

Fig. 1.John Forrester, Paris 2013. Photo by Lisa Appignanesi.



‘Archives of Feeling’: the AIDS Crisis in Britain 1987

2017-03-29

Abstract
This piece is an extended version of my inaugural lecture of the same title delivered on World AIDS day 2016 at Birkbeck College, University of London. It traces the emotional landscape of Britain at a key turning point in the history of AIDS in the UK. Drawing on a range of testimonial and other archives it explores the feelings at stake in the epidemic, how they related to press and politics, how they shaped everyday lives, and how they played out for those involved most directly with the escalating crisis. I argue that such ‘archives of feeling’ are fundamental to our understanding of intersecting social and intimate lives – past and present.



European History and Early Modern Globalization

2017-03-10

KwassMichael, Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground,Harvard University Press, 2014, 472 pages, ISBN 9780674726833



The Eclectic Hall, Headquarters of Soho Radicalism

2017-03-10

Abstract
A tiny meeting house, converted from a chapel, stood at the back of number 18 Denmark Street, Soho, in London, until the 1880s. The Eclectic Hall regularly hosted a range of political radicals and counter-cultural commentators, often attracting sell-out crowds. Using that venue as a prism, this article investigates some shifting currents in ‘Soho radicalism’ – a phenomenon that has had oddly little attention since Stan Shipley’s groundbreaking survey Club Life and Socialism in Mid-Victorian London (1971). The Eclectic Hall was the informal headquarters of Bronterre O’Brien’s National Reform League throughout the 1850s and into the early 1870s. John De Morgan’s National Republican Brotherhood also based itself here, and the hall additionally provided an address for the Mutual Colonisation and Co-Operative Emigration Land Company, which assisted London working-men to settle in the United States. The venue was also used by smaller, special-interest campaigning groups, such as the Lunacy Law Reform Association (founded 1873). More broadly, the hall intersected with the political pub and club culture of such meeting places as the Rose Street Club, which was the Soho headquarters of Continental political refugees; and the Bull’s Head Tavern – the founding place of The Manhood Suffrage League in 1874, which stood in Crown Street (today’s Charing Cross Road). Denmark Place led into one of the most immiserated districts of Victorian London, the St Giles rookery, and the relationship, or lack of one, between the pauper class of the slum and the Radicals who sought the raising of the labouring classes is additionally highlighted. In this article I map the various currents of political radicalism that packed into this tiny area of central London and give an idea of the audiences who came along to listen and the atmosphere of attending such meetings.



Between Private and Public: Writing a Memoir of Raphael and Myself

2017-03-08

Abstract
This article is a version of the 2016 Raphael Samuel Memorial Lecture in which I offered reflections and questions arising from a work in process: the memoir I am writing of my marriage to the historian, Raphael Samuel. Using photography, and in particular, Roland Barthes’s terms ‘studium’ and ‘punctum, coined to evoke the different intensities of experience in looking at photographs, I begin by exploring images of the lonely scholar hero, forging his way into his territory – a rhetorical creation especially inappropriate for Raphael Samuel’s life and work, and at odds, I maintain, with his political notion of a collective or ‘species’ being. More obviously personal photographs from our wedding and honeymoon album also suggest how porous and slippery ‘private’ and ‘public’ are, and how such definitions change historically. Memoir is a capacious and indistinct form – between memory and history: I also briefly consider the ways in which a number of different memoirs, literary, critical and political, represent different ways of ‘being a self in history’. Finally I touch on the fragmentary materials I might use for my own project and try to conjure the changing nature of remembrance and mourning in my own life.



History and Nature in Karl Marx: Marx’s Debt to German Idealism

2017-03-01

Abstract
This essay argues that the location of Marx and Engels within a common history of ‘Marxism’ has obscured fundamental intellectual differences between the two. In particular, while Engels’s thought is best understood as a continuation of an eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Anglo-French materialism, the most distinctive ideas of Marx derived from German Idealism. The difference between the two is particularly striking in their respective ideas about the relationship between history and nature. This led them to adopt different attitudes towards the significance of Darwin. These differences become clear once Marx's thought is separated from the ideas associated with ‘Marxism’.



What is Radical History Now?

2017-02-23

To accept one’s past – one’s history – is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.      James Baldwin, 196311



‘This is Not Charity ’: the Masculine Work of Strike Relief

2016-08-04

Abstract
On March 14 1951, the relief committee of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Waterside Workers’ union voted to exclude women from the union’s relief depot. This article examines the decisions of the Auckland relief committee during a lock-out that lasted from January to June 1951. The men organizing relief understood the relationship between class, gender and welfare perpetuated by mainstream welfare organizations and they were determined not to replicate it. Excluding women was part of their effort to reconstruct the work of welfare as masculine work. Union relief structures are very much of their time; they are created as a result of an industrial conflict and usually dismantled when it ends. Because of their transient nature, they are particularly revealing about the contours of gender, class, work and welfare in a particular time and place. There is also potential for research to inform the historiography of relief. In working-class cultures where it is a man’s role to earn money and a woman’s role to manage that money, union relief during strikes and lock-outs affects and redefines both these roles. Exploring how workers have navigated these situations deepens our understanding of working-class communities.



‘That Alien, New-fangled, Thick, Intractable Dodecagon’: The Design and Introduction of the 1937 British Threepenny Coin

2016-07-14

Abstract
This article investigates the origins of the British twelve-sided threepenny coin, which entered general circulation in 1937. Having examined the arguments for the coin’s introduction, the article outlines the factors influencing the processes which led to the design of Britain’s first non-circular coin, and considers attitudes both inside and outside the Royal Mint concerning the rival merits of tradition and modernity as they pertained to the British coinage. The article also analyses the dodecagonal threepenny’s position in relation to Edward VIII’s brief reign and George VI’s unexpected accession to the British throne. Finally, the methods used by the Royal Mint both to increase the circulation of this most unusual of coins, and to foster public affection for it, are also explored. Unpopular at the time of its introduction, the coin took several years to gain widespread popular acceptance, coming into its own only during the penny shortage of the Second World War. Whilst the paper focuses on the dodecagonal threepenny its conclusions might be used to think more widely about how people think and feel about money as a physical object, and as an aspect of material and national culture.