Journal of Social History

Journal of Social History
Volume 39, Number 3, Spring 2006

CONTENTS

    Putnam, Lara.
  • To Study the Fragments/Whole: Microhistory and the Atlantic World
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    Subject Headings:
    • Atlantic Ocean Region -- Historiography.
    • History -- Philosophy.
    Abstract:
      This article looks at existing and potential connections between two disparate subfields of historical inquiry: microhistory and Atlantic history. New research in the latter has utilized microlevel sources (those that allow the researcher to track an individual life) to challenge long-accepted generalizations about which kinds of people did what where in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Atlantic. But, the author suggests, such research raises specific methodological challenges and epistemological caveats. The risk is that we may borrow some of the more attractive elements of microhistory—in particular, the chance to tell extraordinary stories about ordinary lives—without addressing the elements of research design that give rigor and weight to the most persuasive microhistorical studies. Can microhistorical evidence from the Atlantic world serve as a basis for explanatory as well as descriptive claims? The article explores this question by discussing the author's own attempts to use microhistorical inquiry to answer macrolevel questions about the origins and breadth of anti-imperialism in the interwar British Caribbean.
    Cross, Gary S.
  • Crowds and Leisure: Thinking Comparatively Across the 20th Century
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    Subject Headings:
    • Amusement parks -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Amusement parks -- Social aspects -- England -- History -- 20th century.
    • Blackpool Pleasure Beach (England) -- History -- 20th century.
    • Coney Island (New York, N.Y.) -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      Comparative studies of the uses and changes of free time have been relatively rare in social history, especially in the 20th century. By reflecting on some of the ideas and findings generated by a new study that John Walton and Gary Cross conducted concerning the changes in the meanings and behaviors of playful crowds in the U.S. and Britain across the 20th century at Coney Island, Blackpool, Disneyland, and the Beamish Museum, this paper raises some of the possibilities and difficulties of doing a comparative social history of 20th century pleasure crowds. National and other differences will be considered in explaining why the Blackpool resort area survived much social change in the 20th century and Coney Island did not, as well as how Disneyland and the heritage site of Beamish reflected differing adaptations to middle class crowd and aesthetic sensibilities.
    Webster, Wendy.
  • Transnational Journeys and Domestic Histories
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    Subject Headings:
    • Refugees -- Government policy -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
    • Refugees -- Government policy -- Australia -- History -- 20th century.
    • Domestics -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.
    • Domestics -- Australia -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This essay considers the potential of histories of transnational movements of people, and the erosion of boundaries between British domestic and imperial history, to expand and revise the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century British domestic life and work. Literatures on migration demonstrate how far the history of home involves transnational themes, including the recruitment of migrants and refugees who crossed national borders to do domestic work—in Britain and empire—and their development of what has been called the 'transnational family'. Domestic life, including motherhood, cannot be fully understood outside the history of the control and orchestration of national borders: which people were allowed inside for settlement, which people were refused entry, which people were positively encouraged to enter. The essay considers refugee movements as part of transnational movements—a neglected area in historical work, including work on Britain—developing a case study that compares the recruitment of people from displaced persons camps to the Australian and British labour markets in the late 1940s, situating both recruitment schemes in the context of post-war British migration to Australia.
    Nightingale, Carl Husemoller.
  • The Transnational Contexts of Early Twentieth-Century American Urban Segregation
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    Subject Headings:
    • Segregation -- Maryland -- Baltimore -- History -- 20th century.
    • Baltimore (Md.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      This article looks at the debates surrounding Baltimore's 1910 Segregation Ordinance in transnational context. It asks whether the beliefs and actions of Baltimore's segregationists were connected to those deployed in hundreds of other efforts to segregate cities by race worldwide-in Asia, Africa, Australasia, and elsewhere in the Americas—during the same period. Using a comparison focussed on India, South Africa and the U.S., it argues that three interconnected and transnationally traded political conversations—concerning conflict between races "commingled" in the same geographic areas; concerning solutions of urban problems; and concerning middle-class control of urban property markets—were critical to urban segregationist discourse in places with otherwise very different histories. Because of local and national conditions, including well-organized black resistance, supporters of Baltimore's Ordinance drew on some of these languages more than others. Their heavy reliance on the argument that blacks threatened white property values was typical of the politics of America's "marketized" form of segregation, which threatens to become a transnational export in its own right. The paper seeks to use closely textured social-historical research and a wide-ranging synthetic reading of the history of cities elsewhere in the world as a means to understand and document world-historical phenomena.
    Gunn, Simon, 1954-
  • From Hegemony to Governmentality: Changing Conceptions of Power in Social History
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    Subject Headings:
    • Poovey, Mary. Making a social body: British cultural formation, 1830-1864.
    • Joyce, Patrick, 1945- Rule of freedom: liberalism and the modern city.
    • Social history -- Historiography.
    • Power (Social sciences) -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      In the 1960s and 1970s the emergent domain of social history was marked by a reconceptualisation of the concept of power. The dimensions of power and its operations were no longer understood to be confined to elite institutions such as parliament, but extended to the relations and institutions of everyday life. In the process, social historical writing helped to redefine the notion of the political itself. Since this early phase a number of different conceptions of power have been utilised by social historians, including the Gramscian notion of hegemony and, more recently, the Foucauldian idea of governmentality. This article explores the theoretical implications of these concepts and looks at how ideas associated with governmentality in particular have been operationalised in recent historical writing, including the work of Mary Poovey and Patrick Joyce. In conclusion, the article identifies some of the problems arising from governmentality approaches and sketches briefly an alternative way of thinking about power centred on analysis of the body.
    Crais, Clifton C.
  • Custom and the Politics of Sovereignty in South Africa
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    Subject Headings:
    • Sovereignty -- History.
    • South Africa -- Politics and government.
    Abstract:
      How do we write the social history of state formation in a world after the "linguistic turn"? Focusing on South Africa from the nineteenth century to the present, the article explores one facet of state formation as it relates to the issue of sovereignty. The article is especially interested in state formation as a negotiated process, and in the legacies of state formation for the productions of knowledge and in the formation and reformation of ethnic politics. More generally, the article argues for a phenomenologically grounded approach that rethinks the study of power in colonial Africa.
    Summers, Carol, 1964-
  • Radical Rudeness: Ugandan Social Critiques in the 1940s
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    Subject Headings:
    • Uganda -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
    • Uganda -- Politics and government -- 1890-1962.
    Abstract:
      This article asks how the people of colonial Uganda, especially the kingdom of Buganda, understood themselves in the 1940s not just as imperial subjects, but as citizens capable of mobilizing for change. To understand activism and agency in such a context, I explore how power in the protectorate was encoded in manners, politeness, and conventional rituals of sociability—built from complementary Ganda and British expectations—that could be disrupted by activists using tactics of rudeness. Activists lacked a clear issue-based politics, or the resources to engage in active state-building. Instead, they performed a rude, publicly celebrated strategy of insults, scandal mongering, disruption, and disorderliness that broke conventions of colonial friendship, partnership, and mutual benefit. They sought to delineate and make public the real clashes of interest both among Baganda, and between Baganda and Britons, as a way of opening up to public scrutiny the covert practices of negotiation that had produced land deals, cotton policy, bureaucratic appointments, and power within the kingdom and protectorate. By juxtaposing cultural analysis and political history, and using concepts, such as rudeness or manners, that are rooted in local practices, we can gain insights into big historical concepts such as popular activism and nationalist mobilization.
    Parthasarathi, Prasannan.
  • The State and Social History
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    Subject Headings:
    • Social history -- Political aspects.
    • World politics -- 1945-1989.
    Abstract:
      Social history emerged in the 1950s and 1960s out of two contradictory impulses. On the one hand, social historians sought to recapture the lives and experiences of the working class and other dispossessed groups. At the same time, social history was connected by a number of its early practitioners with major political projects. It was very self-consciously part of a larger analysis of a capitalist system with the aim of transcending that system and establishing socialism. It thus took seriously the analysis of state power. There was some tension between a social history that sought to reconstruct the lives and experiences of the dispossessed and one that was politically engaged, which came to be resolved from the 1970s increasingly in favor of the former. As a consequence, the state came to be increasingly ignored in social historical studies. The purpose of this paper is to suggest some lines of enquiry that will bring the state back into social history. At the same time, it recognizes that ours is an increasingly global era and that cultural practices and meanings are indispensable to historical inquiries. Therefore, it argues that the state must be conceptualized in a far broader, that is global and comparative as well as cultural, context.
    Walkowitz, Daniel J.
  • The Cultural Turn and A New Social History: Folk Dance and the Renovation of Class in Social History
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    Subject Headings:
    • Folk dancing, English -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Liberalism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    • Middle class -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
    Abstract:
      English Country Dance, a recreational folk dance activity of largely professional managerial workers in the twentieth-century United States, provides a window on the subjectivity and political culture of a class fraction that illustrates how middle-class studies imbricate that of working-class history. Moreover the income level, status, cultural and social capital of this quintessential middle-class fraction provides a window on the culture of liberalism in America. Self-identified liberal professionals and semiprofessionals constitute the modern dance community at the end of this century which was reconstituted out of the 1960s counterculture. Feminists, environmentalists and "spiritual," the modern dance community, which identifies as left-wing or liberal, reflects the shoals of race on which the modern political culture of liberalism flounders: originally an Anglo-American group, the "white" ethnic dancers who now predominate in ECD celebrate the dance floor as an anti-materialist "safe" urban space at the same time as they bemoan the lack of people of color on the dance floor. The modern folk dance community has become an alternative space, not an oppositional one.
    Wood, Andy.
  • Fear, Hatred and the Hidden Injuries of Class in Early Modern England
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    Subject Headings:
    • Sennett, Richard, 1943- Hidden injuries of class.
    • Cobb, Jonathan.
    • Scott, James C. Domination and the arts of resistance: hidden transcripts.
    • Social classes -- England -- History.
    • Social conflict -- England -- History.
    • Justice -- History.
    Abstract:
      This essay advances the proposition that the category of class, when historicized, offers a powerful interpretive tool for the understanding of early modern society. In particular, it develops Sennett and Cobb's insight that unequal social structures engender feelings of humiliation and subordination amongst poorer people; and that such 'hidden injuries' are central to the maintenance of social inequality. The essay suggests some ways in which the category of class might illuminate unexplored paths in the social history of early modern England. It then goes on to look at the relationship between social conflicts, plebeian identities and patterns of subordination and domination. Throughout, it seeks to engage with recent historical applications of the work of James C. Scott, arguing that domination and subordination are best conceived as operating in relationship to one another, rather than as polar opposites.
    Timmins, Geoffrey.
  • The Future of Learning and Teaching in Social History: The Research Approach and Employability
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    Subject Headings:
    • Social history -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States.
    • Universities and colleges -- Curricula -- United States.
    • Education, Higher -- Aims and objectives -- United States.
    Abstract:
      This paper analyses the key issues that need to be addressed in seeking to enhance the appeal of social history to undergraduates. Consideration is given to content selection; enhancing cognitive skills; learning and teaching approaches; and assessment techniques. Additionally, in relation to each of these matters, the notion of progression is examined, which in this context is concerned with how the study of social history can be made more challenging for students as they proceed through their programmes of study. The argument is made that, for social history to prosper at undergraduate level, careful account will have to be taken of students' needs, especially in terms of their employability, and meaningful ways found of reflecting these needs both in the way the curriculum is designed and in the learning and teaching approaches that are adopted.
    Hunt, Tristram, 1974-
  • Reality, Identity and Empathy: The Changing Face of Social History Television
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    Subject Headings:
    • Television and history -- Great Britain.
    • Mass media and publicity -- Great Britain.
    • Social history -- Historiography.
    Abstract:
      In recent years, social history has benefited from the increased media interest in history and heritage. Yet social history on television today bears very little resemblance to the discipline traditionally understood. As such, social history within the public sphere has undergone a similar transformation to that within the academy. Whereas once filmmakers concentrated upon structure and process, now they are more interested in questions of identity and empathy. The end result of this trend is the wave of 'reality history' (such as Frontier House) programmes drawing huge audiences across the Anglo-American networks.

      At the same time, the proliferation of media together with growing popular interest in local and genealogical history has produced an impressive range of bottom-up films of the past—most notably, in the format of drama documentaries. However, what today's social history on television lacks—together with its progenitor within the academy—is any kind of political undercurrent. The ideological underpinnings of social history have been lost in one of the media best designed for its propagation.

    Rosenzweig, Roy.
  • Historians and Audiences: Comment on Tristram Hunt and Geoffrey Timmins
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    Subject Headings:
    • Hunt, Tristram, 1974- Reality, identity and empathy: the changing face of social history television.
    • Timmins, Geoffrey. Future of learning and teaching in social history: the research approach and employability.
    • Television and history -- Great Britain.
    • Mass media and publicity -- Great Britain.
    • Social history -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States.
    • Education, Higher -- Aims and objectives -- United States.
    Abstract:
      This comment praises the articles by Hunt and Timmins for their perceptive comments on the "supply side" of history—the social history that television and teachers provide. It argues, however, that we need to devote equal attention to the demand side, to our audiences. One of the key and understudied questions about public history is not the message or the messenger but how diverse audiences receive the message.
    Borsay, Peter.
  • New Approaches to Social History. Myth, Memory, and Place: Monmouth and Bath 1750-1900
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    Subject Headings:
    • Monmouth (Wales) -- Historiography.
    • Bath (England) -- Historiography.
    • Historic sites -- Social aspects -- Great Britain.
    • Memory -- Social aspects -- Great Britain.
    Abstract:
      This paper examines the rich possibilities for social history opened up by the cultural turn. Focusing on the interplay of myth, memory, and place, it begins with the Kymin, a hillside site outside the Welsh border town of Monmouth. In about 1800 this site was carefully remodelled to invest it with a series of meanings—urban/rural, enlightened/romantic, Welsh/English/British—through which those who visited it were able to explore and express their ambivalent identities. The eighteenth-century spa of Bath was also "symbolic territory", and in one of its iconic structures, the Circus, myth, memory, and place combined to allow the elite to examine similar issues of identity to those at the Kymin. Central to the mythical element in both sites was the notion of the hero. It was an idea that was to resurface on a grand scale in late Victorian and Edwardian Bath, as the city's historic fabric was reconfigured as a "mausoleum" to Britain's Georgian imperial heroes. The paper concludes by arguing that the identities examined in the paper were closely tied to ones of social class, and that the way forward for social history is a fusion of the cultural and the structural that emphasizes the interaction between the two.
    Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon.
  • Social History as "Sites of Memory"? The Institutionalizaton of History: Microhistory and the Grand Narrative
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    Subject Headings:
    • Social history -- Historiography.
    • History -- Philosophy.
    Abstract:
      This article established its theoretical framework by criticizing the way in which social historians have practiced their scholarship in the last three decades and how and why they have not responded to the challenges of postmodernism and poststructuralism. The focus is on the Journal of Social History and the academic debate since its inception—how scholars have responded to the challenges and problems facing the discipline at different times. Connections are drawn between these developments found in JSH and the authors' own ideas and experiences of academic work, with the aim of assessing the state of the discipline in the early years of the 21st century. As a result of the very success of social history, it is argued that social historians have felt no reason to take scholarly risks for the last ten or fifteen years—there is simply no incentive for them to do so. Hence, the image becomes ossified and scholars are tempted to start treating social history as nothing more than a series of "sites of memory", as monuments that can neither be moved nor challenged, like a statue that is polished up solely so as to be able to gleam back resplendently into the eyes of those that behold it. The article severely critiques the conventional theoretical framework of social-historical research—the institutionalization of history—and an attempt is made to redefine the aims and parameters of history in order for it to achieve its full potential.
    Mosley, Stephen.
  • Common Ground: Integrating Social and Environmental History
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    Subject Headings:
    • Human ecology -- Historiography.
    Abstract:
      Since the 1960s, one of the great strengths of social history has been its willingness to respond to contemporary concerns. However, as environmental issues have pushed their way to the top of the global political agenda, social historians have been slow to meet this new challenge. This paper examines reasons for this reluctance and, more importantly, explores the opportunities for integrating social and environmental history. It is divided into three main parts. The first section deals with the failure of social history to strike up a dialogue with environmental history. Section two aims to show that social and environmental history are basically compatible and complementary fields, and argues for increased collaboration by making human-environment relations a key theme for future research. Drawing on studies—both rural and urban—that have begun to establish common ground between the two fields, section three outlines new areas for investigation, including: the interconnections between social inequality and environmental degradation; environments and identities; and consumption and the environment. By focusing attention on how ordinary people interacted with their environments in the past, social historians could make a significant contribution to current discussions about a sustainable future.
    Klein, Herbert S.
  • The Old Social History and the New Social Sciences
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    Subject Headings:
    • Social history -- Historiography.
    • Social sciences -- Methodology.
    Abstract:
      This essay provides a survey of new research themes, methodologies and empirical and theoretical questions addressed in the other social sciences today and how they can be applied to traditional concerns of social history. Recent trends within economics, sociology and political science especially have generated new interest in historical questions as they relate to the origin, development and role of institutions in defining contemporary societies. Equally new interest in motivation of actors and their interaction with institutions has provided new insights into analysis of personal choice which also offers historians interesting new themes to explore. Thus there is a fruitful area of cooperation which can develop between historians and social scientists because of these new theoretical orientations. An awareness of these trends can help social historians focus their own research just as it allows these social scientists to engage some of the traditional concerns in our discipline.
    Stearns, Peter N.
  • Behavioral History: A Brief Introduction to a New Frontier
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    Subject Headings:
    • Social history -- Historiography.
    • Social sciences -- Methodology.
    Abstract:
      'This article argues for the importance of applying social history findings directly to the exploration of current forms of social behavior. Behavioral history takes its subject matter directly from the present, and uses social history, rendered analytically rather than descriptively, to probe the initial origins, the causes, and the evolution of contemporary patterns and problems. The goal is a more explicit use of social history in contemporary social diagnosis.



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