Abstract The pamphlet Seven Months in the Kingston Lunatic Asylum, and What I Saw There detailed the experiences of Ann Pratt, a mixed-race Jamaican woman, during her months-long commitment to the facility. Seven Months portrayed the asylum as an institution failing its mission to care for some of the island’s most vulnerable inhabitants. A text produced in colonial Jamaica by a woman most likely born in enslavement, the pamphlet had an unusual career, moving from local island circuits to limited circulation within London’s political and philanthropic elite. There, in the metropole, it transformed Colonial Office bureaucrats’ understanding of a local scandal that had been brewing in Jamaica for two years over conditions in the asylum and adjoining hospital. Once they had read it, metropolitan officials demanded investigations into asylum conditions in Jamaica and, more broadly, across the empire. That Seven Months transformed imperial opinion to this degree was testament both to its fusion of life-writing genres and to the bureaucratic practices that elevated a specific version of this text to the attention of the Colonial Office. Seven Months was thus a bureaucratic artifact as much as a literary text. Drawing on historical and anthropological studies of paperwork, especially ‘the file’, and on literary analyses of nineteenth-century life-writing, this essay argues that the bureaucratic practices of collating and filing that colonial governors used produced a more powerful edition of the pamphlet, one that primed the Colonial Office for a positive reception of Ann Pratt’s claims.
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.
Abstract Over the course of the 1970s, feminists in Britain and elsewhere in the West came together to expose the hidden labour involved in caring for men, for the home, and for dependents. This paper explores how the activists of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain forged a multifaceted politics of care. While highlighting the drudgery of and exploitation underlying women’s caring work, activists also appealed to a positive notion of caring as the basis for a new feminist sisterhood. By the late 1970s, the reconfiguration of the labour market and state services in Britain had lent questions of women’s work a new resonance. Tracing how feminists sought to capture and communicate the conditions of women’s caring work sheds light on both the transformation of Britain’s political economy in this period and a neglected area of second-wave feminism.
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 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.
In this article I assume that denial is particularly marked in settler societies since their very foundations lie in the dispossession, destruction and displacement of aboriginal peoples and they have never experienced any event like those that have forced other nations to repudiate the oppressive discourses that lie at their heart. Examining the case of Australia I argue that there are intriguing connections between historical denial and contemporary denial and suggest that the former has been especially marked in this case because of the nature of the latter. I contend that the nature of remembering and forgetting depended a great deal on the nature of the cultures of memory, historical discourses, and the disciplines or genres that story-tellers chose to relate their stories about the past, paying particular attention to the peculiar manner in which these conceived of the relationship between the past and the present in such a way as to render Aboriginal people as though they were out of time and so out of place in Australia. Finally, I trace a revolutionary change in the nation's culture of memory in recent decades, which has seen Aboriginal people and culture assume a central place in the nation's history-making.