The HIB (Homosexuelle Interessengemeinschaft Berlin, or Homosexual Interest Group Berlin), a gay and lesbian rights group, was active in East Berlin in the 1970s. As well as organizing events for up to 200 people, its activists lobbied the East German authorities for official state recognition. The HIB's roots lay not only in the 1968 decriminalization of homosexuality in the East, but also in the after-effects of the Western '1968', not least the burgeoning gay liberation movement. The HIB's founders not only had access to Western gay media and films, but also met activists such as Peter Tatchell, who travelled to the GDR in 1973. As a result, the group's tactics blended Western ideologies and methods (such as film-making and the appropriation of public space) with tried and tested ways of dealing with state socialist authorities (petitioning and the use of socialist rhetoric). This article argues that the 1970s in Eastern Europe saw significant countercultural activity and activism, which should be set against the trend towards privatization often stressed in recent literature. Efforts to politicize the personal and create alternative forms of living were not confined to Western Europe. However, would-be activists in the East faced considerable barriers, not least state intransigence and surveillance.
The inaugural lecture which underlies this article examines the past and future of Imperial history as a subject and its relationship to both imperial power and projects of human emancipation. It explores the origins and history of the Rhodes Chair of Imperial History at Kings College London, and locates its new incumbent as both opponent and heir to different aspects of its tradition. It examines how British imperialism, as a regime for extracting extraordinary benefits from the wider world, was entangled with the history of the humanities in the British isles, shaping both their material possibility and their global view. In particular, it shows how an 'Imperial Studies' movement emerged in early twentieth-century London, which had a profound impact on the University of London, with the Rhodes Chair being only one of its consequences. It asks how, today, might we learn from that foundational period, as we think futures for world history in London? It argues that two important lessons are the need for a commitment to interdisciplinarity and to co-operation across all the scholarly institutions of London. It proposes that there should be a post and anti-imperial emancipatory purpose to this enterprise of research and teaching. We must, in each generation, rescue the dream of a shared economic and cultural commonwealth from those who would use it as the mask behind which they hide oligarchical power, tyranny and exploitation.
This article tracks the relatively unexamined ways in which ethnographic, travel and medical knowledge interrelated in the construction of fat stereotypes in the nineteenth century, often plotted along a temporal curve from 'primitive' corpulence to 'civilized' moderation. By showing how the complementary insights of medicine and ethnography circulated in beauty manuals, weight-loss guides and popular ethnographic books - all of which were aimed at middle-class readers and thus crystallize certain bourgeois attitudes of the time - it argues that the pronounced denigration of fat that emerged in Britain and France by the early twentieth century acquired some of its edge through this ongoing tendency to depict desire for and acceptance of fat as fundamentally 'savage' or 'uncivilized' traits. This tension between fat and 'civilization' was by no means univocal or stable. Rather, this analysis shows, a complex and wide-ranging series of similarities and differences, identifications and refusals can be traced between British and French perceptions of their own bodies and desires and the shortcomings they saw in foreign cultures. It sheds light as well on those aspects of their own societies that seemed 'primitive' in ways that bore an uncomfortable similarity to the colonial peoples they governed, demonstrating how a gendered, yet ultimately unstable, double standard was sustained for much of the nineteenth century. Finally it reveals a subtle and persistent racial subtext to the anti-fat discourses that would become more aggressive in the twentieth century and which are ubiquitous today.
This article considers the rise and decline of South Africa's lucrative and controversial skin-lighteners market through examination of the business history of the largest manufacturers, Abraham and Solomon Krok, and their evolving personas as millionaires and philanthropists. Such examination reveals how the country's skin-lighteners trade emerged as part of the broader growth of a black consumer market after the Second World War and how elements of that market became the target of anti-apartheid protests in subsequent decades. It also demonstrates how the Kroks' experiences as second-generation Jewish immigrants shaped their involvement in the trade and how, later, their self-identification as Jewish philanthropists informed their efforts to rehabilitate their reputations following South Africa's 1990 ban on all skin lighteners. Such efforts include the building of Johannesburg's highly acclaimed Apartheid Museum, modelled after the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This article explores the profound ironies that some South Africans see in the fact that a museum dedicated to commemorating those who suffered under and, ultimately, triumphed against state racism was financed by a family fortune generated through the sale of skin lighteners to black consumers.
Derided by British intellectuals as 'propaganda of inanity unparalleled in the world's history' and as an 'impertinence' toward educated Indians, the 'smiling tours' of the Prince of Wales to India and then West and South Africa in the early 1920s offer a unique lens through which to explore the largely unwritten history of African and Indian empire loyalism in a comparative frame. Whereas the loyalism of the 'Black Englishmen' and their faith in the civilizing mission is generally assumed to have become obsolete after the First World War, the vigorous engagement of western educated African and Indian elites with the symbolism and politics of these royal tours reveals that, however compromised and contested, loyalism retained saliency for many nationalist leaders and intellectuals well into the 1920s and that the idea of imperial monarchy continued to serve as a moral reference point and the embodiment of the freedoms and rights implicit in a liberal empire. Loyalism, expressed as fidelity to the monarch, moreover, is explored in its many guises and aspects, ranging from an expression of deep affective ties to scorching criticisms of administrations that had betrayed the imperial faith and notions of equality of all subjects of the crown. Laying claim to 'true' loyalty', many Indian and African writers compared theirs with what they claimed was the self-serving, narrow loyalty of white settlers and colonial bureaucracies.
This paper discusses the working experiences of employees of foreign military forces in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina, with reference to oral-history interviews with fourteen people who were employed as language intermediaries by British forces in the Banja Luka area. Banja Luka, the capital of Republika Srpska (one of the political entities established under the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995), was also the site of the British-led divisional headquarters, which was one of the largest bases of the multi-national NATO force. The accounts of locally-employed interpreters point to the production of a semi-British cultural space within the Banja Luka area that has carried over into interpreters' homes and friendship networks. However, they also show factors impeding affinity between interpreters and the force, in the perceived unfairness of local employees' contracts and an upsetting lack of cultural knowledge that interpreters observed in many soldiers. The paper traces the history of British forces and their interpreters in and around Banja Luka from the opening of the Banja Luka Metal Factory base in December 1995 to its closure in 2007.
Portraits of scientists use attributes of discovery to construct identities; portraits that include esoteric accessories may fashion identities for these too. A striking example is a marble bust of the anatomist Wilhelm His by the Leipzig sculptor Carl Seffner. Made in 1900, it depicts the founder of modern human embryology looking down at a model embryo in his right hand. This essay reconstructs the design and viewing of this remarkable portrait in order to shed light on private and public relations between scientists, research objects and audiences. The bust came out of a collaboration to model the face of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach and embodies a shared commitment to anatomical exactitude in three dimensions. His's research agendas and public character explain the contemplative pose and unprecedented embryo model, which he had laboriously constructed from material a midwife supplied. The early contexts of display in the His home and art exhibitions suggest interpretive resources for viewers and hence likely meanings. Seffner's work remains exceptional, but has affinities to portraits of human embryologists and embryos produced since 1960. Embryo images have acquired such controversial prominence that the model may engage us more strongly now than it did exhibition visitors around 1900.
In 1937 Theodor Adorno, in a letter to Erich Fromm, described women as exemplars of commodity fetishism, 'agents of the commodity in society'. Adorno wanted Fromm to join him in a study of the invidious psycho-social effects of this phenomenon. Fromm did not respond to this invitation, possibly because his own views on women were diametrically opposed to Adorno's. To Fromm, women were not agents of capitalist corruption but avatars of altruism, their nurturing qualities providing models for socialist morality. These polarized images of women have their roots in Enlightenment gender theory. This essay outlines the myths of Woman promulgated by Enlightenment intellectuals, in particular the Janus-faced doctrine of 'female influence' that dominated eighteenth-century writings on women, which portrayed them simultaneously as acquisitive hedonists and as paragons of self-sacrificial benevolence.
It focuses on the way in which psychical researcher Harry Price persevered in trying to establish ghost-hunting as a legitimate science while at the same time playing to its popular appeal. Price's efforts allow historians to trace some preliminary connections between the ideas and practices of the 'occult' in the period and broader themes such as the relation between heritage and modernization and the public perception of science and the supernatural.
In both cases, public memory manipulates the events into contrasting morality tales about guilt, responsibility, and innocence, and into political apologues on the meaning and morality of Resistance and the foundation of the Republic. Indeed, one story is openly pitted against the other: myths do not live in isolation but combine in systems and structures. The most contested episode in the history of Italian Resistance to Nazi occupation in 1943-4 is the attack conducted by a unit of the partisan underground in Rome's central via Rasella and the massacre next day of 335 prisoners (ten Italians for each German) in an abandoned quarry on the via Ardeatina. These events have become the object of ongoing controversy and a memory struggle that hinges on the false but widespread belief that the Germans warned that retaliation would happen unless the 'perpetrators' of the attack in via Rasella turned themselves in for the rightful punishment. The partisans did not do so, and therefore by large sectors of public opinion they are held responsible for the death of the 335 hostages. In fact, there was no such request or warning: the massacre took place less than twenty-four hours after the attack, giving the partisans no notice and no time to hand themselves in even had they intended to. This myth has served nevertheless to generate revisionist anti-partisan narratives and raise doubts about the morality of the Resistance and, implicitly, about the anti-Fascist roots of the Italian republic. The young carabiniere Salvo D'Acquisto was executed by the Germans in Palidoro on 23 September 1943. An official publication of the carabinieri corps told the story in 1946: in reprisal for a supposed attempt that killed a German soldier and seriously wounded two others twenty-three hostages were lined up for execution D'Acquisto 'though innocent... proclaimed himself alone responsible for the attempt, and thus fearlessly went to his death'. At first, Salvo D'Acquisto was listed as just one of the many carabinieri who fought, and perhaps lost their lives, in the anti-Nazi underground in 1943-4. Soon, however, the carabinieri corps and conservative public opinion recognized the great symbolic potential of this episode, especially in the context of backlash against anti-Fascism with the post-war restoration and the Cold War. As the national anti-Fascist unity government collapsed and the Left parties that had played a crucial role in the Resistance were excluded from power, it became politically expedient for the Christian Democrat government and the Catholic Church to generate an alternative narrative of the Resistance. Salvo D'Acquisto was singled out as the perfect vehicle for this project, and on 8 June 1947 a monument to him was inaugurated on the via Aurelia, near Palidoro. From then on, the story of Salvo D'Acquisto grew to produce not only the corps's most glorious icon, celebrated in books, paintings, ceremonies, postage stamps, school competitions and films, but also a counter-narrative to the story of via Rasella and the text for another reading of the Resistance, an alternative to the Left's narrative.
This article suggests how the waging of war in an imperial setting may have reshaped military and civilian relations in India from 1939-45. The number of troops stationed in India had repercussions for society and local politics. The article investigates widespread prostitution as one aspect of the gendered wartime economy. Indian prostitution was closely linked to militarization and to the effects of the 1943 Bengal famine. The article also argues this was symptomatic of a more far-reaching renegotiation of the interactions between men and women in the Indian Empire of the 1940s. Other Indian, European, North American and Anglo-Indian women worked as nurses, with the Red Cross and in a variety of roles towards the war effort. Women were subject to new social and sexual demands due to the increased numbers of troops stationed in India in the 1940s.
The Leveller writer John Lilburne (1615?-57) is today one of the most celebrated of England's seventeenth-century radicals: his life has been commemorated in popular biography, television drama and even rock opera. However, scholars have generally argued that in the eighteenth century Lilburne's connections with radical politics and in particular the Leveller movement were obscured. This article suggests instead that eighteenth-century representations of both Lilburne and the Levellers were often surprisingly faithful, avoiding the cliche that they were 'social Levellers' bent on the abolition of private property and instead focusing on their political ideals as encapsulated in documents such as the various versions of their manifesto, The Agreement of the People. This was evident even in unsympathetic treatments of Lilburne and the Levellers. The article contends that Lilburne persisted as a historical figure worthy of note largely because his radical ideals (especially his arguments for freedom of the press and the importance of trial by jury, and his attacks on slavery) remained relevant in the eighteenth century. Lilburne's eighteenth-century 'afterlife' suggests that there may be greater continuities between seventeenth and eighteenth-century radicalism than historians have previously acknowledged.
This article examines the political, social and psychological experiences of a group of young working-class men who in the early-to-mid 1960s became active members in branches of the Labour Party Young Socialists. Concentrated in London's East End, these branches had become increasingly open to the politics of International Socialism, a tiny libertarian Trotskyist group that provided these young men with a political education and a social circle, and propelled them into a bourgeoning activist network. Activism in their groups occurred at a crucial moment of personal and political transition - social maturation from child to adult intersected with the formation of a new and distinctive extra-parliamentary culture on the British left that came to full fruition around Britain's anti-war movement, the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign. The formation of this collection of inner lives occurred simultaneously in the context of real social and economic shifts in the men's local landscapes as well as the wider international Cold War climate. Drawing upon oral history interviews with former Young Socialist members, this article explores the cultural and social expression of these working-class men, looking at subjectivity and gender to understand how their sub-culture provided for childhood structures of feeling and early class identity and to consider what meaning they derived from active socialist involvement. Against the historiography of sixties youthful protest politics, the men's testimonies show that experiences of inner transformation were not exclusive to enclaves of Britain's university students. The oral history interview provided a route through which to open up the subjective experience of early Trotskyist involvement and for the men to claim a valid space in the individual and collective memories of sixties political activism.
The workshop, funded by a History Workshop Journal grant, offered an overview of the revival in the history of protest, showcasing the work in progress of new scholars and the recent work of more established historians, including H. T. Dickinson, Adrian Randall, and Robert Poole. It included exciting innovation: a live broadcast and the virtual participation of delegates on an online discussion board. Discussion centred on the basic purpose of the history of protest. Was categorizing 'protest' a reductive process, neglecting the larger context of everyday life that social historians study? Or was it necessary to revisit the history of important protests and social movements now that labour history has moved away from its main focus on class? Debate moved on to consider the contemporary resonances of protest history. Participants agreed that academic scholars need to do more to reach out to the public. Historians should provide the conduits for public debates about the origins and parallels between historical collective action and the current wave of social protest movements. Although historical objectivity was regarded as important, participants considered the important role of memory and public history in conveying the meaning of contemporary unrest. The workshop ended with plans for the next series of workshops, to be held at the University of the West of England in February 2012, and at the University of Gloucestershire in summer 2012.
This article examines the role of religious parody in the popular radical movement in Britain in the 1790s, focusing on a collection of little-known mock sermons and the booksellers who published them. Aimed at a plebeian audience, these mock sermons revived an old tradition of religious satire and drew extensively on the resources of popular culture. They functioned to democratize the meanings of religious rituals, as popular perceptions and practices were fashioned into an authoritative mode of radical political discourse. In part, this was a response to the way in which genuine sermons and other religious rituals had become politicized during the French Revolution debate, particularly on occasions such as public fast days. Intriguingly, however, these mock sermons were not opposed to religious belief, despite being written in a style of populist irreverence. On the contrary, they were all published by booksellers sympathetic to popular religious feeling and were evidently intended to appeal to devout as well as sceptical members of plebeian society. In this sense, mock sermons shed new light on the propaganda war of the 1790s, disclosing the complex religious affiliations of the popular radical movement and highlighting the affinities between millennarian and secular patterns of thought.
Living in the Soviet Century: Moshe Lewin, 1921-2010 A pioneer in the historical study of the Soviet Union, Moshe Lewin brought to Soviet historiography his personal experiences, political convictions, and deep analytical insights into the Leninist and Stalinist revolutions. A critic of Stalinism, he still never conflated the USSR with the possible alternatives for socialism and remained dedicated to expanding the practices of what both Soviet and Western theorists considered the achievements of their particular forms of democracy. He was more a historian of society than a social historian and a master at original conceptualizations of the evolution of the Soviet experiment.
The essay draws on the experience of writing a memoir to reflect on current trends, models and motivations within the genre. Philippe Lejeune's notion of the 'autobiographical pact' is used to look at how different approaches to memoir-writing stake their claims to be an 'authentic' discourse of the self. In addition it is argued that life-story scripts, conveyed primarily through family and schooling, play an important role in the process of authentification, albeit one that is shifting as a result of changes in the culture, economy and society. The discourse of aspirationalism with its meritocratic insistence that everyone is an author of their own life is seen as symptomatic of this shift, as evidenced by the current popularity of the 'triumph over adversity' life story. The essay then turns to look at the influence of identity politics and the growth of the 'victimology' narrative; this is followed by a discussion of life stories that focus on the 'dislocated subject' and the various uses of the memoir to settle accounts with past and present. The essay concludes by considering the 'anxiety of influence' in contemporary memoir-writing and just how unsettling and revisionary the whole project can turn out to be.