Abstract This article centres on an archery match played in August 1478 by wool merchants living in Calais, at that time an English-occupied town. I analyse how the invitation to play a competitive but friendly game between fellow freemen of the wool Staple reiterated masculine social norms and strengthened corporate bonds in a fraternity setting. Set in the wider context of the Calais wool merchant community, the archery match provides the perfect example of homosocial enculturation. In earlier scholarship, sports have typically been seen as a location for a stereotypical hegemonic masculinity based on divisive competition, where the struggle for dominance requires a victor. What happened in Calais in 1478 was more complex, but no less reinforcing of hegemonic social norms: an elite masculine culture, the company of the Staple, was celebrated through a complex blending of competition, collaboration and ultimately reintegration into a corporate whole.
Abstract This article explores the concept of soldiers as professional authors, confronting the enduring myth of ‘accidental’ military autobiography. To do so it concentrates on case studies of British veterans from the Peninsular War (1808–14), who wrote and published military memoirs in their hundreds, contributing to the creation of an influential and commercially successful genre. In their prefaces, these old soldiers frequently confessed their astonishment at having produced long narrative accounts, professing not to have the slightest literary talent nor education, nor the least authorial ambition – claims which have largely been taken at face value by historians. Drawing upon evidence from publishers’ archives, however, this article reveals the immense and sometimes frenzied editing, publishing and marketing activity which in fact usually underlay the facade of the simple soldier’s tale. Considering these memoir-writers as authors in their own right, the article showcases veterans from a wide variety of backgrounds who were actively involved in the publication of their books, knowledgeable about the industry, and eager for success in the literary rather than military world. More broadly, it challenges ideas about how the memory of war was constructed in practice, and to what extent soldiers themselves participated in this process.
Abstract The article examines radical cultural politics by focusing on the West German initiative of Rock gegen Rechts (‘Rock Against the Right’). This campaign involved concerts, publications and demonstrations, most notably the staging of two large-scale festivals in Frankfurt/Main in 1979 and 1980. Rock Against Racism – launched in Britain in 1976 – served as a model for the activists. Yet Rock gegen Rechts differed from its British counterpart in significant ways, both in terms of the political and musical currents that sustained the campaign and with regard to the object of protest. Through the prism of Rock gegen Rechts, the article shows how campaigners debated the nature of ‘the right’ – an important subject in a country whose fascist past figured prominently in public debate. The campaign occurred at a critical juncture of the German left, as it underwent seemingly contradictory processes of fragmentation and coalition-building during the late 1970s. The article explores a left-wing milieu that was associated with music and alternative lifestyles, but also with a nascent green movement. Moreover, the example of Rock gegen Rechts sheds fresh light on the interaction between music and politics on the one side, and between music, commerce and consumption on the other.
Abstract The thatched farmhouse in which the Murray family lived dated from at least the middle of the nineteenth century when James Fee, a grandfather of Mrs Murray, returned to Ireland from America with enough money to marry and settle down. Originally a public house it stood directly on the dividing line between County Fermanagh and County Cavan. The Government of Ireland Act, 1920 and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 elevated this unimportant boundary into a border between states. With one part in Northern Ireland (and, therefore, the United Kingdom) and another part in the Irish Free State, the Murrays could sit on a chair ‘in the Six Counties’ while eating off ‘the table in the Twenty-six’, or pass the salt back and forward from North to South. These humorous features of partition stood in contrast both to the family’s modest circumstances and to the conflict, road closures and restrictions that shaped border life. In time, the house attracted the attention of propagandists, journalists and travel writers, and brought the Murrays into contact or, in the last instance, correspondence with politicians, foreign visitors, and the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. This paper concerns the remarkable story of this otherwise unremarkable family and their home.
Abstract In the early twentieth century a large network of organizations, co-ordinated by the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene (AMSH), campaigned for changes to the law on sexual offences. In particular, they sought to strengthen age-of-consent law for the protection of young girls. Their efforts resulted in a Criminal Law Amendment Bill in 1921 which would have raised the age of consent for indecent assault and removed significant weaknesses in the existing legislation which made prosecutions difficult. However, there was active opposition to the Bill, often anti-feminist in tone. An amendment creating an offence of ‘gross indecency between females’ was introduced by these opponents. If enacted, it would have made all sexual activity between women criminal. The amendment, designed to directly attack the Bill and its feminist supporters, not only led to the Bill’s failure but also posed difficulties for the AMSH and others in formulating a response. Above all, lesbianism was considered publicly unspeakable, as the parliamentary debates themselves made clear. What answer could respectable women therefore make? This article explores the responses of the Bill’s supporters, particularly the AMSH.
Abstract These two rare documents – one previously unpublished, the other published almost a century ago, never republished and still almost completely unknown – capture some key dimensions of the revolutionary thought of Claude McKay in the pregnant years after the Russian Revolution and the Great War. A committed revolutionary socialist and early advocate of Bolshevism, McKay urged Marcus Garvey, the founder and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the largest black organization the world has ever seen, to forge alliances with progressive whites in the common struggle against capitalism and imperialism while maintaining the autonomy and independence of the black movement. The second document, written for Garvey’s newspaper, Negro World, tells the poignant story of black (Caribbean, African and African American) and other non-white colonial veterans of the war living in London. McKay, residing in London at the time (he lived there for more than a year – 1919–21) highlighted the transformation in their political consciousness as a consequence of the racism they experienced while serving in the war and while living in London. The radicalization of these soldiers portended an upsurge in the anti-colonial struggle, McKay reckoned. And he was right. The import of these documents extends beyond the person of Claude McKay. They capture the pain as well as the yearning and optimism of millions around the world in the global turmoil that emerged out of the blood-soaked debris of the Great War and the aftermath of the October Revolution a century ago.
This essay considers the frequent and varied uses of 'denial' in modern political discourse, suggests the specific psychoanalytic meanings the term has acquired and asks how useful this Freudian concept may be for historians. It notes the debates among historians over the uses of psychoanalysis, but argues that concepts such as 'denial', 'disavowal', 'splitting' and 'negation' can help us to understand both individual and group behaviour. The authors dwell, especially, on 'disavowal' and argue it can provide a particularly useful basis for exploring how and why states of knowing and not knowing co-exist. Historical examples are utilized to explore these states of mind: most briefly, a fragment from a report about the war criminals, produced by an American psychiatrist at the Nuremberg Trial; at greater length, the political arguments and historical writings of an eighteenth-century slave-owner; and finally, a case in a borough of London in the late-twentieth-century, where the neglect, abuse and murder of a child was shockingly 'missed' by a succession of social agencies and individuals, who had evidence of the violence available to them.
Abstract This articles uses the reception and resettlement programme of Ugandan Asians in 1972–3 as a lens through which to explore the intersection of post-colonialism and ideas of good citizenship, individual political engagement and voluntarism. Specifically, using a detailed exploration of the dynamics within Greenham Common Resettlement Camp, the article shows how relationships between (ex-colonial) government officials and the WRVS who ran the official side of the resettlement programme came into conflict with younger, more left-wing volunteers and expellees. As well as revealing the significance of (post) colonial attitudes and background among camp administrators and the associated attitudes to hierarchy and race, it also shows how a newer generation of anti-racist activists were beginning to challenge such attitudes. Through integrating its discussion of generational conflict among the expellees themselves alongside conflicts between the official camp administration, volunteers and wider voluntary services this article seeks to reveal some of the key social changes in early 1970s Britain.
Abstract This article offers a methodological framework for a purposeful interrogation of ‘emotional objects’ – material objects that fostered, shaped and sustained an assortment of emotional practices that, in turn, had dramatic historical consequences. It examines the production, use and meanings of an ordinary household object: a single English bed-sheet dating to the early eighteenth century. The locations, hands and regimes of value through which the sheet travelled are a core focus, alongside the practical and emotional dimensions of the sheet’s creation in the early eighteenth century; its perception and use as a politicized holy relic; its commercialization among nineteenth-century antiquarians; and its adoption as a commemorative political object in a twenty-first-century museum collection. The bed-sheet’s history uncovers a hidden chapter of Jacobite resistance and reveals the vital activism of women and household objects in sustaining the political and religious sensibilities of early modern English Catholicism.
Abstract This article takes the story of the New Village, a Japanese intentional community founded in 1918 by novelist Mushanokōji Saneatsu, as a starting point for exploring non-state visions of politics in twentieth-century East Asia. Modern East Asian political thought is often seen as highly state-centred, but the history of the New Village (which still exists today), and of similar experiments in community living, highlights the diversity and influence of alternative political ideas in the region. Placing this history in context of recent debates about spaces of autonomy and everyday utopias, the article examines the influence of the New Village idea and its resonances with similar movements in other parts of the world. These resonances complicate the distinction between ‘indigenous’ and ‘foreign’ and subvert the chronological dichotomy between ‘modernizers’ and ‘traditionalists’, since the dreams of a better world explored in the article drew elements of past and future together in ways that challenged both tradition and modernity. Placing these dreams in their cross-border context, I argue that they contain ideas that are worth re-examining in the context of the contemporary crisis of democracy, not just in Asia but worldwide.
Abstract In 1921 the English iron and steel manufacturer, John Lysaght Ltd, opened mills in East Mayfield, Newcastle, Australia. The company built a housing estate adjacent to the works to accommodate the seventy-five men (and their families) brought from Bristol and Newport to operate the new works. The focus of this essay is on the myths, memories and lived experiences of the residents of the former estate, who were poorly received, not least because they arrived at a time of acute job and housing shortage. Thus, the estate was dubbed ‘Pommy Town’, a negative label denoting it as English despite the fact that more than half the residents were Welsh, and the speech and habits of the newcomers were regarded as suspiciously ‘foreign’. The essay offers a portrait of the social dynamics of an Australian industrial city in the first half of the twentieth century. It seeks to recall the lives of industrial workers and their families, figures increasingly not given their due in a post-industrial age.
Abstract This article addresses the social, cultural and gendered meanings of men’s work in early modern Britain. As has long been accepted for women, men’s work should be seen as multiple rather than single-occupational focused. Drawing on the diaries of three middle-rank tradesmen from the eighteenth century, the article considers the different forms that work took, and how words denoting labour such as ‘employment’, ‘work’ and ‘business’ were actually understood. Men had a broad definition of work that challenges distinctions between labour and leisure. These various forms of work had diverse benefits, challenging narrower economic understandings of ‘value’. Work was about more than making a living: it was a source of fulfilment, status and social identity. Work’s value and contribution to identity and status changed over the course of the lifecycle. It was carried out and understood in relation to others, especially men’s wives, rather than merely supporting notions of power and independence. By applying the insights drawn from studies of female work to men’s productive activities, the article reformulates historians’ understandings of the place of work in early modern men’s lives.
Abstract Over the course of the early modern period, a remarkable number of people below the ranks of the gentry and clergy produced manuscript chronicles, registers and historical miscellanies. This article examines several of these ‘lay’ historians, particularly Joseph Bufton (1651–1718), a tradesman from Coggeshall in Essex who filled more than twenty volumes of notebooks. It shows that these relatively lowly writers created a ‘usable past’ by anchoring their texts in the social and economic realities of their own local communities. They recorded both the ‘merry England’ of seasonal festivity and the perennial struggle to earn a living in often difficult circumstances. Alongside this, some drew on the widening circulation of printed and oral news to chronicle national political and religious events, usually from a distinctly local perspective. The histories and archives that they preserved for posterity often served a practical purpose by providing evidence of parochial affairs, extraordinary weather or local customs. Yet they also helped to reinforce the social bonds that tied together their communities – whether based on neighbourhood, denomination or occupation – by recording a shared past for their members.
Abstract Although Michel Foucault never mentions the objects explicitly, his work on ancient Greek sexuality depends in critical aspects on evidence from sex scenes on ancient Greek pottery. The significance of the images comes to the fore in his argument concerning the radical difference of the gender-blind ethics of desire in Greek antiquity from the gender-based norms of modernity. In the overarching narrative of his multi-volume genealogy of modern sexuality, the alterity of Greece underlines his broader contention about the discursive basis of sexual experience. This article confronts the historiographical biases that led Foucault to disregard the material nature of his sources and explores the implications this silence spelled for his successors. Its argument evolves around the disciplinary instruments which scholars employ to contain three-dimensional objects within the bounds of verbal explanation. Two-dimensional copies, in particular, enable historians to isolate vase images from their contexts of consumption and redeploy them strategically to support unrelated arguments. The discussion first takes a critical look at the archives of vase images that made possible, or responded to, Foucault’s synthesis, and then turns to the possibilities of interpretation which the sex scenes hold out when reunited with their ceramic bodies. Of special interest are the manual operations involved in experiencing the artefacts in convivial settings and the interdependencies of painted and potted forms that mark the objects as intentionally subversive and open-ended. Despite its criticism, this essay is itself Foucauldian in its effort to cultivate critical historiography. Its goal is to perform a ‘genealogy’ of Foucault’s genealogy, with a focus on the objects and practices which sustained the debate on Greek homosexuality as one of scholarship’s foremost contributions to the liberationist projects of the twentieth century.