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.
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.
Although Chartist studies are thriving, Chartism's ideas remain strangely neglected. To explain why, this article looks back to Gareth Stedman Jones's 1983 landmark essay 'Rethinking Chartism', responses to which still shape the field. The article then takes a closer look at the Chartists' natural-right arguments and their use of social contract theory. These ideas underpinned the Chartists' understanding of the constitution and their belief that they had an absolute right to the vote and to poor relief. Attention is drawn to the influence of William Cobbett, who developed and popularized ideas taken from natural law. Natural right was also central to the Chartists' attachment to the language of physical force, which was tightly bound to notions of popular sovereignty. Finally, the article considers the implications for the Chartists of the dramatic loss of credibility that natural-right theories suffered at the end of the eighteenth century, creating, it is argued, an unfavourable intellectual context that importantly influenced the movement's social composition, its tactics, and its failure.
What did people in Britain know about the violence of counterinsurgency campaigns at the end of empire in the 1940s and 1950s? In many ways, British knowledge about colonial violence was widespread. But it was also fragmented and ambiguous: whispered among family and friends; dramatized in the fictions of stage and screen; and distorted by partisan and ideological battles. This article focuses on the response of journalistic outlets, including The Times, the Guardian, the Observer, the New Statesman, and the BBC, to reports about torture and other forms of brutality. Paradoxically, it was not despite but because of their commitment to the pursuit of truth - embodied in professional ideals such as neutrality, factuality, and restraint - that reporters often failed to communicate the depth and breadth of violence in the colonies. In the space between the familiar poles of propaganda and secrecy, epistemological grey areas and emotional grey areas - uncertainty, ambivalence, denial - defined British responses to colonial violence.
As a national public and intellectual culture, contemporary Germany seems exemplary in its readiness and capacity to face up to a difficult and shameful past. In this regard, since the 1960s and beneath the sign of Vergangenheitsbewaltigung [coming to terms with or disarming and overcoming the past], German historians and public intellectuals more broadly have been notable for their willingness to grapple with the legacies of Nazism, principally in the West German Federal Republic, but then after 1989-90 in Germany proper. But what, more precisely, were the rhythms and temporalities? Where were the impediments and resistances? Where are the silences and what has been left unresolved? How have the long-running consequences of unification since the early 1990s reshaped and revised the priorities? What else is being denied? How far does the Holocaust stand in for a more complex set of challenges and recognitions? What does it displace or keep from consideration? By reviewing the current field of difficulties running through German public life - most immediately in relation to the Greek events, the refugee crisis, and the debacle of the EU - this essay ventures a series of observations on the relationship of the German past to the German present, how the one works actively inside the other. When West German politicians and pundits insisted that 'Bonn is not Weimar', for example, what exactly was being denied?.
Sterilizations of Romani women in socialist Czechoslovakia, either carried out without proper consent, or coerced through substantial financial incentive, were first reported in 1978. Yet these practices did not end with the fall of communism, and it took until 2005 for this to be officially acknowledged by the Czech government. This article draws on published and unpublished documents, as well as oral history interviews, to trace the history of efforts to expose such practices, 'come to terms' with their existence, and change social attitudes in relation to the Romani minority in the Czech lands. These exposures have uncovered instances of denial, and have also offered up a variety of ways of understanding the mental and social mechanisms that might have enabled silences, refusals or disavowals with regard to human rights abuses. Under Communism, dissidents associated with Charter 77 elaborated these through the philosophical concepts of phenomenology; after the transition to democracy, a more psychological and therapeutic language came to the fore. I argue that the Czech case suggests that the historiography of denial and disavowal could be enriched by looking beyond the framework of psychoanalysis: by taking into account how historical actors, sometimes with opposing worldviews, have comprehended these processes within the languages of their own culture and period.
Wounds of the Heart": Psychiatric Trauma and American Denial in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1962 a young Jewish-American psychiatrist by the name of Robert J. Lifton met Kubo Yoshitoshi, a Hiroshima based psychiatrist. Lifton was aiming to learn from Kubo about his research into A-bomb survivors' psychological trauma. The meeting, however, was far from a success, with Lifton, who later became a leading researcher on war trauma, remarking, "I found our talk curiously unsatisfying, and it was hard to tell exactly what he was after in his studies." Although Kubo's research was not inconsequential, it is easy to understand Lifton's frustration. In the previous seventeen years only a handful of researchers, either Japanese or American, tackled the psychological consequences of the bomb. This was a very different picture form the situation of research on Holocaust survivors, which produced a significant body of research by the 1960's. The failure of the medical establishment in both countries to tackle psychological issues was to a large extent the result of the systematic denial of long-term psychological effects of the nuclear bomb by the American government and the complicity of the majority of American psychiatrists who worked on the topic with nuclear and civil defense research. Coupled with American military censorship and limits on medical studies by the occupation authorities, as well as survivors' wariness to talk of their suffering, this campaign of denial resulted in a complete lack of psychiatric care for hibakusha. In contrast to the case of Holocaust survivors, who also met with similar denials by the German medical establishment, Japanese psychiatrists mounted no counter campaign to fight for their patients' rights, and conducted no large scale research until the nineteen nineties. Focusing on the work of Kubo Yoshitoshi in Japan, on one hand, and the American researchers who preceded Lifton, on the other, this paper will examine the reaction of the psychiatrists to the A-bomb's psychological impact and how cold war politics and the difficulty of studying A-bomb disease resulted in very different history in the cases of Holocaust and A-bomb traumas.
Information about the Austrian-born exile photographer and Communist activist, Edith Tudor-Hart, continues to emerge, supplementing the major exhibition of her work in Edinburgh and Vienna in 2013-2014. This includes a fictionalized biography written by a distant relative; a documentary film; further exhibition installations; seemingly endless walk-on parts in spy and Cold War histories; and a substantial batch of post-war MI5 files, released in 2015 by the National Archives. This essay juxtaposes quotations from the secret service files with a commentary on aspects of Tudor-Hart's recent reception. If the files offer us little substantively new in terms of content, their form ignites our capacity to think differently about her history. Drawing on narrative modes related to the detective genre, the essay explores the compulsion to narrate Tudor-Hart's life as a spy story at the expense of understanding her work as a radical photographer and proto-feminist activist. It suggests that both the MI5 files and the more recent interpretations of Tudor-Hart are framed by the politically dubious movement of masculine desire in search of the enigma of the woman spy.
Among all the labours of life, if there is one pursuit more replete than any other with benevolence, more likely to add comforts to existing people, and even to augment their numbers by augmenting their means of subsistence, it is certainly that of spreading abroad the bounties of creation, by transplanting from one part of the globe to another such natural productions are likely to prove beneficial to the interests of humanity. Bryan Edwards, The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies, 1793.(1)
This short memoir explores how growing up between cultures can produce a dual perspective on one's individual history, concepts of home and belonging. The author meditates on how her English parents' distancing of their past from 'the other place' made their children curious about the 'home' country and their relationship to it through the development of narratives. The essay also touches upon the perception of British immigrants to Canada as white settlers in the mid-twentieth century.
This article explores the largely neglected history of BBC youth broadcasting in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly from the mid 1930s, when a broad youth movement drew together many voluntary youth organizations in humanitarian and political projects. A novel youth consciousness embraced a radical younger generation of middle-class literary intellectuals and artists who, disconcerted by the popular appeal of fascism in Europe, wanted to know more about the everyday lives and views of 'ordinary' working-class people. During the same period, the introduction of BBC audience research stimulated greater receptiveness to the idea of capturing 'different' voices, including those of youth and encouraged progressive programme producers to give young people a voice in the new public sphere of broadcasting, unusual in a period when children's education and the workplace were dominated by adult-centred approaches and assumptions. These programmes, despite their limitations, recognized young people as protagonists with valid voices and stressed the importance of youth developing critical understanding in order to play an active and participatory role in society. Their emphases on audience participation and interactivity and their efforts to listen to young people and shape a public space in which they could express their own views and passions as critical and autonomous thinkers are part of the archaeology of youth programming. They also connect with our globalized world, in which the skills of critical thinking, debate and participation are so vital and where the importance of asking young people about what they think, what they feel, and actively listening to what they have to say is still so often ignored.
Sidi Yakut Khan's 1689-90 siege of Bombay was the final act in the First Anglo-Mughal War, started by the English East India Company in the mid 1680s in an attempt to improve its terms of trade. The siege has previously been little studied, and this essay outlines the main events and uses them to discuss some of the challenges the Company faced both in India and in England. The siege and the humiliating peace terms which resulted from it reflected badly on the competence of the Company's servants, the loyalty of its soldiery (many of whom ended up deserting over to Sidi Yakut Khan), and the viability of its monopoly trading model. Consequently Company directors back in England, already under fire from the new regime of William and Mary, tried with a fair degree of success to cover up or minimize what had happened at Bombay. Recovering that largely forgotten story highlights the precarious nature of early modern English settlements in India while also suggesting the need to view English trading ventures in a more Asia-centred context than is typically done.