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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Segregation -- Maryland -- Baltimore -- History -- 20th century.
Baltimore (Md.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Folk dancing, English -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Liberalism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Middle class -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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
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.
Scott, James C. Domination and the arts of resistance: hidden transcripts.
Social classes -- England -- History.
Social conflict -- England -- History.
Justice -- History.
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.
Social history -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States.
Universities and colleges -- Curricula -- United States.
Education, Higher -- Aims and objectives -- United States.
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
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.
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.
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.
Historic sites -- Social aspects -- Great Britain.
Memory -- Social aspects -- Great Britain.
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
'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.