Focusing on the concept of 'subjectivity' in gender history, this article offers a critical review of some developments within cultural history over the past two decades. Although the term 'subjectivity' is often used within historical research broadly informed by the cultural turn, such work often possesses an abstract quality. Concentrating on matters of cultural form, it fails to acknowledge the basis of subjectivity within real human relationships and emotional states. Such approaches can tell us little about the emotional experience of historical actors. In response to these limitations, and informed by my current attempts to write a history of mother-son relationships in the First World War, the article offers some suggestions about how research on subjectivity might proceed. It demonstrates - via examples from my research - the kinds of topics and concerns that come to light when relationships, and the emotional processes that they entail, are placed at the centre of historical study.
This article looks at the role of gender in the creation of a capitalist economy in England in the early modern period. Most capital in this period was both accumulated and transferred by means of marriage and inheritance, so it stands to reason that the laws governing marriage and inheritance played a role in structuring the economy. English property law was distinctive in two respects: first, married women under coverture were even more restricted than in the rest of Europe; second, single women enjoyed a position unique in Europe as legal individuals in their own right, with no requirement for a male guardian. I suggest these peculiarities had two consequences for the development of capitalism. First, the draconian nature of coverture necessitated the early development of complex private contracts and financial arrangements, accustoming people to complicated legal and financial concepts and establishing a climate in which the concept of legal security for notional concepts of property (the bedrock of capitalism) became commonplace. Second, without the inhibiting effect of legal guardianship, England had up to fifty per cent more people able to move capital purely because that market included the unmarried half of the female population in addition to the male population. This area needs a great deal more research and three comparative European approaches to single women's financial activity are offered: public investment records; court records of debt litigation; and individual biography of single female entrepreneurs. The connections proposed between marital property law and economic development are suggestive and deserve further consideration.
This essay explores the conceptual terrain of memory's mediation and articulation across and within the public sphere. After defining the key terms of mediation and articulation, it proposes that a dominant trend in memory research today is the extension and application of terms associated with personal memory to domains beyond the personal - a trend which has the effects of hardening into literality what might better be regarded as a series of compelling metaphors - the 'traumatization' of a nation, for instance, or the 'healing' of a culture - while drawing attention away from the processes of articulation through which past happenings and the meanings and affects associated with them are discursively produced, transmitted and mediated. This trend might be resisted without reaffirming binary divisions between the personal and the public, by attending more closely to the various and particular articulations of memory by the diverse institutions of the public sphere. From particular studies of memory that have engaged with the sufferings of individuals and groups, the essay draws out some thoughts about what the 'personalization' of the conceptual terrain of memory research may screen as well as some suggestions for future research. If the personalization of memory studies hinders a focus on questions of power and structural inequalities, this essay proposes countering that tendency, in particular, by an attention to processes of the recognition of memory and the relations between recognizing authorities - processes that are at once cognitive, affective and political.
On 30 January 1972, British soldiers shot dead thirteen unarmed Irish nationalist civilians and seriously wounded fifteen others (one of whom subsequently died), on the occasion of a civil rights demonstration held in the city of Derry. This event, known as 'Bloody Sunday', is the most important single case of the abuse of state power perpetrated by the British Army in the course of its long counter-insurgency campaign in Northern Ireland. It is also a 'contested past', since the soldiers were exonerated of any wrong-doing at the Public Inquiry led by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, set up by the British Government to investigate the killings in their immediate aftermath. In the years since 1972, Irish nationalists and Republicans developed and sustained an annual Bloody Sunday commemoration in Derry as a public arena from which to challenge this official memory, through the articulation of an oppositional narrative, or counter-memory, that asserts the innocence of the victims and denounces both the violence and injustice inherent in the British military occupation of the north-eastern corner of Ireland. This essay examines the politics of memory established by these competing narratives about Bloody Sunday. It draws on theories of war memory, trauma and cultural landscape to investigate the identities, meanings and memories of Derry nationalists that have become attached to, and invested in, the material sites where fatal and near-fatal shootings 'took place', and the related formation of psychic 'sites of trauma' within the internal landscape of survivors and the bereaved.
Hendrik Verwoerd, Apartheid's founder, imposed what he called the 'Bewysburostelsel' - a term that is best translated as the 'bureau of proof regime' - on South Africa during the 1950s. This paper is a narrative of the administrative catastrophe that followed from the grand project of building a central biometric population register for all Africans, the issuing of identity cards and classification of the huge body of fingerprints that poured in from the countryside. The story examines internally-generated crises and some of the ways those subjected to the Bewysburo sought to defeat it. It offers a new explanation of the origins of Verwoerd's Bantustan policy, for the pervasiveness of violence in the 1960s, and for the Apartheid state's paradoxically blind strength in the decades that followed. The paper thus addresses some of the key questions in the history of the Apartheid state, but it may also offer several important lessons for the contemporary American, and British, effort to build centralised national security databases, like John Poindexter's recently-closed office of Total Information Awareness, or David Blunkett's biometric identity card.
Did a sexual revolution take place in the 1960s and, if so, what if anything did the Pill have to do with it? Feminists and historians of women, of sexuality, and of the pill have rejected the idea that the pill was a causal factor in what has been called the 'permissive moment'. This article argues that the existing historiography has over-emphasized the importance of structural forces, and overlooked the impact of new technology as well as underestimating the importance of women's agency. It focuses on showing how interactions between the innovative technology of the Pill and existing social and commercial structures made substantial change possible in a very short time.
This article concentrates on the way ordinary people in English communities in East Anglia and New England represented male witches and male witchcraft when they accused men of criminal magic. I begin by examining the data from the indictments of male witches in early modern Essex courts in order to demonstrate some of the ways English male witchcraft was distinct from the larger prosecution of female witches. The remainder of the paper is devoted to four case histories of individual men and demonstrates how early modern ideas of manhood shaped the witchcraft beliefs of accusers. I argue that, because they were men, these witches had had very different relationships to the legal, cultural, social and economic institutions of their day, and that this must be considered in any analysis. Throughout, I am concerned with how application of masculinity as a category of analysis reconfigures historiographical ideas of early modern witchcraft
This article is on the role of collective memory in the construction of a nationalist narrative in Turkey. Through an analysis of how the Great Fire of Izmir that took place at the end of the Anatolian war in 1922 is remembered and/or forgotten, it attempts to understand the spatial and temporal rupture between what belonged to the Empire and what is imagined to be belonging to the nation. It is argued that this fire was not an accidental calamity, but a symbolic act of punishment, an act of chastising the 'infidel Izmir'. The destruction of the city through fire is presented as an act of creative destruction, an attempt to build places of (counter)memory, to open up a hollow landscape upon which the new nation's imprint, its Muslim and Turkish identity, could be carved. This analysis aims to fill a significant gap in terms of understanding the social and cultural consequences of this neglected event in Turkey's history.
This essay explores the ways in which local history is presented, practiced and promoted in relation to the politics of culture, history and identity in Northern Ireland. Though the politicization of history inevitably frames the practice of local history in Northern Ireland, the level of interest in local history does not support the common argument that Northern Irish society is marked by a uniquely obsessive focus on the past. Instead it suggests a more complex picture of historical knowledge, interest and practice than that contained within the image of two violently destructive, intense and permanently irreconcilable historical perspectives. This essay discusses the ways in which ideas of history and the local are imagined and mobilised, conflicting arguments about approaches to the past and the practical ways in which local historical societies and other organisations engage with the past, and in doing so, rework the meaning of the local. It highlights innovative attempts to explore a shared history of conflict, shared histories of common experience, and the distinctive experiences of those patterns of commonality and division for specific localities in Northern Ireland and for Northern Ireland as a whole.
Kenneth Mdala was born in Nyasaland (now Malawi) at the end of the nineteenth century and became a 'native clerk' working for the British colonial administration in neighbouring Tanganyika. He was a prolific writer and historian who attempted, through his writings, to influence colonial policy in Nyasaland. Loyal to the colonial regime, he was nevertheless regarded by them with suspicion. This paper recounts my encounter with Kenneth Mdala in the archival record and also with his family in Malawi.
There is an important scene missing from the film, The Battle of Algiers. In July and August 1957, Yacef Saâdi, the nationalist leader in Algiers and a motivating force behind Gillo Pontecorvo's film, met secretly with the French ethnologist and Resistance heroine Germaine Tillion. This essay explores the relation established between the Gaullist Tillion and Yacef. They recognized the resister in one another and during the Battle of Algiers sought to create the conditions for a new relationship between Algeria and France. The essay concludes by looking at the ways this event is interpreted in different memory traditions in contemporary Algeria, and what resonance it has for the Euro-American left today.
This article explores a criminal case in late-nineteenth-century Upper Burma, in which a British police officer named Chisholm was accused of forcibly tattooing the face of his Burmese mistress, Mah Gnee. The case is discussed with regard to the histories of punitive and decorative tattooing in pre-colonial and colonial South Asia, as well as British anxieties about the occupation of Burma. The article then analyzes the links between the body politics of tattooed women in Britain and Burma in the aftermath of the Chisholm case. From the 1880s to the 1920s, a period of severe economic and political strain for the British aristocracy, upper-class women of the metropole began to adopt the tattoo. This fad greatly disturbed continental scholars such as Cesare Lombroso, who associated tattoos with savage or criminal populations. Late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century British interpretations focused instead on the tattoo as a gendered marker of aristocratic crisis, a material sign of whether British aristocrats were fundamentally 'primitive' or 'modern'. The 'problem' of tattooed women, articulated both in the unstable territories of Upper Burma and in London's fashionable circles, underscored the complex (and uniquely British) historical connection between the downward spirals of aristocracy and empire.
Best known for his post-war work in theatre, radio, folk music and song writing, Ewan MacColl was born in 1915; the 1930s was a key decade in terms of his political and cultural development. It was in the 1930s that he cut his teeth as a Young Communist League activist, as an actor, and as a writer for both radio and theatre. His lifelong passion for rambling also took root in that decade. In the 1930s rambling was a mass sport of working class youth and the organized left played a decisive role in campaigning against the draconian laws which restricted public access to the British countryside. The flashpoint in the campaign was the Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout of April 1932. This article sketches in the institutions that coordinated that struggle, and picks out the part played by MacColl. It also foregrounds the degree to which music and singing were integral to the day's rambling culture and explores how this politicised social setting provided an audience for the young MacColl's singing and an impetus for his songwriting. It concludes by looking at three songssome of the earliest MacColl compositions to have survived-that he wrote for and about rambling.
The flight of two sisters from Minsk before the invading German army has become a story of great importance to a Russian Jewish family in Berlin. I interpret it as a family myth, and relate its telling down three generations to the ways in which members of the family talk about themselves and their lives. I also relate their self-representations to a number of crucial historical contexts: the breakdown of the Soviet Union, German reparation for and commemoration of the Holocaust, the revitalizing of Jewish Community in Berlin, and the centrality of Israel for Jewish self-definition. To do this I employ an idea of before/after caesuras, employed in acts of commemoration, in the writing of history and in the telling of stories. Interviews with members of the family show how they hold in reserve from all these contexts their own Jewish self-definition. At the same time it is evident that their self-definition is actively dependent on these contexts of policy change, historiography, public commemoration and a television documentary of the Minsk ghetto. My argument is that this reserve from the contexts on which it depends has the potential to define a subject for a history of Diasporic Jews not yet written or commemorated.
With the exception of Henry Pelling, labour historians have found little positive in the role played by Henry Hyde Champion (18597-1928) in the early socialist movement, and have generally represented his motives as suspect. Tracing his political career from his 'conversion' to socialism in 1882 to his departure for Australia in 1894, this article shows how Champion's personal and class characteristics exacerbated the distrust that has always been felt in the labour movement towards would-be leaders with no roots in the working class. Although he was a hard-working publisher and journalist, he represented himself as 'one of the idle classes'; in his speech, dress, manners, and tastes, he was the epitome of the officer and gentleman; and he saw himself as leading people inferior to himself. He did establish a degree of rapport with some leaders of working-class origin, notably John Burns, Tom Mann and Keir Hardie, who did not doubt his sincerity even when they were critical of his actions, but he was always an outsider in the socialist movement, his isolation being further increased by his compulsive desire for action, and his willingness to act alone. As a young officer on sick leave from India, Champion first encountered the 'problem of poverty' in the East End of London. Shocked by what he observed, he looked for solutions, arriving at socialism by way of Henry George, to whose call for a 'new crusade' he responded by resigning his army commission. He sought to translate his idealism into action, joining various radical organizations, the most important being Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation, of which he became the first secretary in 1883. It was while holding this position that he became friendly with Maltman Barry and was involved in the 'Tory Gold' controversy. Suspicion about the source of funds that were available to him and about the motives of Barry (despite his having been Marx's 'factotum') dogged Champion for the rest of his political life. His reticence about his relationship with his benefactor, the soap manufacturer R.W. Hudson, and his insensitivity to the traditional working-class political attitudes, especially the attachment to the Liberal Party, increased his vulnerability to charges of working for the Tories. As well as challenging the generally accepted interpretation of Champion's political behaviour as being a misrepresentation of both his motivation and his specific intentions, this article claims that he was far-sighted in aiming 'to manufacture for the working classes a political machine of enormous power' (The Future of Socialism in England'). Implicit in the article is the argument that his political actions are not always wholly explicable in political terms. In line with this view, the strange fact of Champion's first marriage and Margaret Harkness's novelistic version of it, and Champion's hitherto unknown liaison with a married woman whom he followed to Melbourne in 1894 are included in this account of his political career.
The centenary of Mrs Pankhurst's founding of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) on 10 October 1903 prompted commemorative celebrations in Manchester, London and elsewhere in October 2003. Drawing upon Pierre Nora's Realms of Memory: discussion of 'the era of commemoration, this article asks who exactly initiates and stage-manages such centennial events and what is their significance. It is particularly challenging to interrogate the celebrations of suffrage history one hundred years on: precisely whose memories are being drawn upon and whose history is being honoured?
"First published at Edinburgh in 1773, and reprinted at Philadelphia in 1774, William Russell's Essay on Women, a translation of Antoine-Léonard's Essai sur les femmes (Paris, 1772), is now most frequently encountered in the form of a brief excerpt, the "Essay on the Female Sex" that was printed in the Pennsylvania Magazine in 1775 and that has often been misattributed to Thomas Paine and misinterpreted as a revolutionary statement of women's right to political equality. This article revisits the Essai/Essay/"Essay" from the perspective of an Enlightenment debate over the role of women in the progress of society. Of particular interest is the intermediary role played by Russell, the Scottish printer turned historian of women who sought to anglicize Thomas for the benefit of an English female readership. In his "translation" and "improvement" of Thomas' text, Russell relied upon a distinctively Scottish Enlightenment account of women and civil society to offer a much more positive evaluation of women's social role than is found in the original French essay. As a case study in the international dimensions of eighteenth-century publication for and about women, the travels of this text from Paris to Edinburgh to Philadelphia exemplify a transatlatnic traffic in ideas where the French Enlightenment entered America via Scotland."
This article reflects on a recent ESRC Seminar Series on 'Gender, Crime and Culture in the Twentieth Century', outlining key debates. Whilst discussion centred on the relevance of gender as a heuristic category, debates also emerged around the complex relationships between past and present and about the ability of historical inquiry to develop understandings of crime, welfare and criminal justice that are relevant to policy makers or practitioners as well as to academics across the social sciences. Not only did the papers and discussion reveal something of the texture of continuities, reinventions and discontinuities in policy and practice; they also showed how critical historical research could be used to test and evaluate current and proposed measures. Discussion addressed the uses of history as well as models of periodization that have been dominant in criminological and other social-science studies of the twentieth century. A new but increasing body of focused historical research is questioning over-arching meta-narratives, such as the growth of penal-welfarism and the 'Freudian century'. Dialogue between academics and professionals also led to revealing exchanges, when positions deriving from an ethics of service were juxtaposed with those using the language of social control; these issues were particularly relevant for seminar participants who allied themselves to feminist politics.