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Preview: History Workshop Journal - current issue

History Workshop Journal - current issue



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The Dorchester Labourers and Swings Aftermath in Dorset, 1830-8

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

The case of the Dorchester Labourers, the six agricultural labourers arrested and transported in 1834 for establishing a trade union among farmworkers in the vicinity of Tolpuddle in Dorset, remains one of the best remembered aspects of labour history. Nevertheless, study of the Labourers and their union, the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers (FSAL), has overlooked their role within a longer context of labour unrest and political activism within the region. This article argues that the FSAL was rooted in the Swing Riots of 1830, when labourers across the south of England protested against low wages and mechanisation, and was perceived by its leadership as being a means of both continuing the objectives of Swing and overcoming its failed methods. It was resurrected upon the Labourers’ return to Dorset in 1838, and illustrates a series of agitations in the region initiated by Swing and culminating in Chartism. This case study therefore suggests that the current emphasis on the Swing protests as a series of parochial and isolated disputes should be aware of a longer context in which these isolated protests led to a movement organised inter-parochially along class lines, and in response to national events.




Moral Ecologies: Conservation in Conflict in Rural England

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

The collision between ‘official’, elite and state-sanctioned conservation schemes and those reliant on the use of the land and its resources for their livelihood has long been a touchstone of North American environmental history. In the still emergent environmental-history movement in the UK, however, such concerns remain obscure. This paper offers a departure. Drawing on Karl Jacoby’s concept of ‘moral ecology’ developed in the context of dispossessions enacted in the making of US national parks, the paper examines three ‘moments’ when, in the name of ‘conservation’, elites attempted to delimit and restrict customary ways of being in rural Gloucestershire. In so doing, the paper not only shows that such schemes were resisted and were a critical way in which demotic-elite and local-central relations were shaped, but also that externally imposed conservation schemes placed nature-culture relations as a critical wellspring of protest and politics in the countryside. Moral ecology therefore allows for a close attention to the importance of the material – and discursive framings of the material – in the study of conflict and protest past and present, and forces historians of the countryside to take seriously the ways in which vernacular environmental ethics shaped both past landscapes and social relations.




Threatening Letters: E. E. Dodd, E. P. Thompson, and the Making of 'The Crime of Anonymity

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

Ernest Dodd was E. P. Thompson's research assistant during the 1960s and 1970s. Their correspondence, about the archives of eighteenth-century threatening letters and other forms of popular protest, is used to discuss letter-writing as a social practice, and the making and writing of social history.




Jack Lindsays Alienation

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

Posterity has not been kind to the Australian-born polymath Jack Lindsay (1900–1990), a self-confessed ‘odd man out’ who published over one hundred and seventy books across a range of genres. This article asks what Lindsay wrote, why it has been forgotten and why we should care. It restores to view Lindsay’s politico-cultural trajectory from his conversion to Marxism in 1936. It argues that Lindsay’s searching and sceptical Marxism was a source of his prolific creativity and that he evolved a distinct and sometimes eccentric Marxist theoretical framework – a system with the concept of alienation at its core – within which his individual works are most legible. It argues that Lindsay’s theoretical Marxism is not reducible to that of ‘British Communism’ or the ‘Old Left’, but exceeded and was mostly in tension with the Marxism of his party and its Soviet models, despite his political affiliation. It explains that Lindsay’s oeuvre sank gradually from mainstream cultural visibility through the Cold War and that his conflicted but ongoing CP and Soviet-facing alignment alienated him from an emerging New Left with which he actually shared much theoretical ground. Estranged from his own party and largely dismissed by the New Left, his project disappeared through the cracks that opened during the traumatic realignments of the British Left in the post-1956 decade and remains largely absent from accounts of Marxist thought in Britain today. But though in many ways flawed, Lindsay’s central project – tracing the processes of alienation through social formations, sifting human history for moments of resistance to that alienation, and attempting to prefigure a society in which values of creative production and communication are generalized across society as a whole – speaks loudly to ever-sharpening problems and deserves revisiting now.




Thinking Black: Peter Fryers Staying Power and the Politics of Writing Black British History in the 1980s

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

Now entering its fourth decade, Peter Fryer’s Staying Power: the History of Black People in Britain remains a centrally important text for British historians studying the metropolitan dimensions of race and empire. However, as a milestone in British, black British and radical historiography it is frequently acknowledged but far less often critically engaged. While other foundational texts and figures in radical and left historiography have received growing attention in recent years, and while the epistemologies of their practices have been constantly debated, Fryer’s contributions are largely undiscussed and his assumptions about what constitutes black British history unexplored. Narrating the genesis of Fryer’s text within a wider black radical formation, this article emphasizes the alternative routes for radical historiography in Britain which constituted black British history as a radical field, and asks where, when and why this field emerged. Through this, the article also proposes that paying attention to how Fryer framed his understanding of black history is important for how we understand the field today. By looking closer at Fryer’s text we can see both how different is the field of black British and postcolonial history today, and which questions remain, often unresolved.




Au Revoir les Enfants: Wartime Evacuation and the Politics of Childhood in France and Britain, 1939-45

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

Few people in France today remember the wartime evacuation of children from Paris. But in 1938–40, the evacuation of urban schoolchildren and other ‘useless mouths’ from likely targets of bombing was central to French plans for the ‘passive defence’ of the civilian population. Moreover, the size and duration of such large-scale child migration schemes increased after the defeat and Occupation, as (allied) bombing raids over industrial cities like Ivry-sur-Seine or Boulogne-Billancourt put their children at risk once again. Why did an event so important in British memories of the Second World War leave so little trace in public memories of the war in France? This article explores the public debates around wartime evacuation respectively in Britain and in France and the convictions about relationships between families, children and the state that underpinned them’ For these debates suggest two very different ways of understanding the nature and needs of children in mid twentieth-century Europe and the relationship of those needs to understandings of children’s present or future citizenship.




Children Left Behind: Family, Refugees and Immigration in Postwar Europe

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

In 1950, a welfare report by the IRO (International Refugee Organisation) in Austria recorded the particulars of Julia Alexenko, a displaced person, and her six-year-old daughter. Julia had been doing forced labour when her daughter was born, and the father had disappeared under the Soviets and not been heard from since. Now facing the imminent closure of the DP camps, she desperately sought asylum and resettlement in the West. But as the IRO medical report noted, her daughter, born prematurely, had severe physical and mental handicaps. Her file, and others like it, record the tragic dilemma faced by many families with disabled children whose applications for resettlement out of the DP camps in Occupied Europe between 1947 and 1952 were rejected by Western countries. Some, such as Julia Alexenko, refused to separate from their children, and were forced into an uncertain future in the local economy. But others, often under considerable pressure from the IRO, accepted offers of placement for their sick children in institutions in Belgium and Norway before leaving for countries like Australia. This article considers this hitherto hidden history in the light of new ideas about child welfare, humanitarianism and the family in the postwar era, which mostly assumed that keeping the family together was a priority at all costs; of older ideas about the segregation of the disabled; and of postwar immigration policies by western nations that sought to enforce ideas of population purity and health at the cost of the abandonment of disabled children by their families.







Fallen Women and Foundlings: Rethinking Victorian Sexuality

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

The publication in the late 1970s and early 1980s of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality had an enormous impact on the shaping of research in the humanities and social sciences. For those working on the cultural history of the Victorian period, Foucault’s writing opened up new ways of understanding the formation of gender and sexual identities and of working with a wide range of archival and primary material. The sexual politics of the nineteenth century were filtered through the sexual politics of the late twentieth century and methodologies were developed that allowed these connections to be explored as fully as possible. In recent years there has been a return to the history of sexuality in relation to the expanding field of gender and sexual history, but certain questions remain as pressing as they were in the 1970s and 1980s. Using archival material drawn upon for a recent exhibition called ‘The Fallen Woman’ at the Foundling Museum, London, this piece returns to the core questions of identity and agency, sexuality, gender and class to explore how women narrated their sexual lives in the nineteenth century and negotiated the power of philanthropic institutions in this period.




The Politics of Prostitution and Sexual Labour

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

‘Politics of Prostitution and Sexual Labour’ summons up the intellectual/political landscape of feminist historical thinking on prostitution in the early 1970s, when I began work on Victorian feminists and prostitutes. It assesses the key features of agreement among a generation of feminists working on this topic, and suggests how their interpretive framework has been refined and revised. It also expresses the need to imagine the prostitute as a more complex subject than feminist historians have previously made her. Finally, it relates this feminist historical work to the present political conjuncture.










Textbook Controversies and the Demand for a Past: Public Lives of Indian History

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00

This article has arisen out of a growing sense of disquiet about the relatively unexamined gulf between the practice of academic history – in universities, journals and conferences, scholarly publications, and largely in English – and the thriving production of histories which arise out of a demand for a past in community, regional, or caste forums, usually in several Indian languages. Although this gulf is as old as the development and institutionalization of history itself, the academic historian has cherished the hope, we now know in vain, that the protocols of her evidentiary practice will eventually triumph over heterogeneous, multiple historical productions. Yet the thriving public life of history in India is in inverse proportion to the dwindling interest in and development of academic history across India today. Recent debates and discussions about school textbooks allow us to return to the troubled relationship between these worlds of history writing, which will be critical to a meaningful response to the challenges faced by academic history in India over the years.




Political Trust in Early Modern Britain

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00




The Imperial and the Global

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00







Rubbed Out Rosa

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00




The History of a PhD

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00




Emigres and Art Publishing

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00







Lisa Jardine (1944-2015)

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00




John Gurney (1960-2014)

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00




Patrick Wolfe (1949-2016)

2016-11-11T05:30:30-08:00