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May 2016 Newsletter

I. Reminder: Register for 2016 Britain and the World Conference

Our annual conference (22-24 June at King’s College London) is fast approaching, and at this time we would like to remind our newsletter readers who plan on attending the conference to register. To register for the conference, please visit Kings College London’s e-store at the following address:

http://estore.kcl.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=2&deptid=13&catid=137&prodid=632

Our registration rates are as follows:

Members: faculty £150, students £100

Non-members: faculty £200, students £150

The rates are for all three days of the conference, and include refreshments (coffee, tea, water) throughout the day, lunch every day, and wine reception on the first day (The conference dinner will be separate, and conference-goers will receive separate communications on it from the conference committee).

Not only because it is almost entirely defrayed in registration fees, we very much encourage you to become members of the society, which additionally means you will receive a subscription to our journal, Britain and the World, which will be posted to you and you also gain web access to the archive. The journal is published biannually, but is soon slated to move to a triannual format. If you would like to become a member of the British Scholar Society ($59) to take advantage of the discounted rate, please register before the conference by going to: http://britishscholar.org/british-scholar/membership/

Please continue to check the conference website for developments and updates:

http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/

II. Reminder: 2016 Britain and the World Accommodation Information

We would also like to remind our newsletter readers of the accommodation arrangements that we have made in anticipation of the rooming needs of our conference attendees.

We have secured 100 rooms at the Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, WC1H 0DG, just off Russell Square. The conference venue is 20 minutes’ walk (down Southampton Row/Kingsway), or 10 minutes’ on a constant stream of buses (numbers 68, 59, 91, 168, and 188) which is much quicker than the tube.  There are many other even closer hotels, although they are much more expensive.

Royal National rates are £98 for a single room and £123 for a twin room if booked by phone, £88 for a single room and £113 for a twin room if booked online: https://www.imperialhotels.co.uk/en/royal-national. Guests can also take advantage of their online BOGO Offer – complimentary dinner on the night of arrival for bookings of 2 or more consecutive nights. Early booking is advised, and any remaining rooms will be released on 28 May.

Additionally we have also arranged rooms from the LSE at their Bankside House, also 20 minutes’ walk, over the river. Prices for Bed and Breakfast per night: single room with shared bathroom £59; 2 single en-suite connecting rooms, £98, triple room en suite, £131, and quad room en suite, £147. Please visit  www.lsevacations.co.uk  or call (+44) 02079557676.

III. General Editor in History & Policy

Our General Editor, Dr. Martin Farr, has published an opinion piece in History & Policy on the historical background and context of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. His insightful comments are essential reading with regard to illuminating how the current system of defence reviews in the UK came into being, as well as the reasons behind SDSR’s irregular schedule and the consequences of the SDSR’s harnessing to broader domestic political agendas.

Please go to the following link to read Dr. Farr’s interesting article:

http://www.historyandpolicy.org/opinion-articles/articles/defence-reviews-strategic-and-otherwise

IV. Deputy General Editor’s New Book

We are very pleased to announce the release of a new monograph by our Deputy General Editor, Dr. Michelle Brock. Her book, Satan and the Scots: The Devil in Post-Reformation Scotland, c. 1560–1700, is the latest volume in the long-running St Andrews Studies in Reformation History series. In investigating the connections between sin, the concept of the Devil, and early modern Scottish society and politics, Dr. Brock argues that “post-Reformation beliefs about the Devil profoundly influenced the experiences and identities of the Scottish people through the creation of a shared cultural conversation about evil and human nature.”

For more information on Dr. Brock’s exciting contribution to the field, please go to the following link:

http://www.routledge.com/Satan-and-the-Scots-The-Devil-in-Post-Reformation-Scotland-c1560-1700/Brock/p/book/9781472470010

V. Journal on Malaysian and Southeast Asian History

In keeping with The British Scholar Society’s goal of connecting scholars across our field’s many (and often arbitrary) regional divisions and disciplinary divides, we would like draw our readers’ attention to the journal Sejarah, which is published by the Department of History at the University of Malaya. Sejarah‘s focus is on Malaysian history, and also accepts contributions on topics related to other Southeast Asian societies and the region in general. The journal has recently transitioned to a fully online format, which can be accessed at the following link:

http://e-journal.um.edu.my/publish/SEJARAH/Aabout

VI. National Centre of Biography (AUS) Conference

This summer, Australia’s National Centre of Biography will host an international conference titled “True Biographies of Nations? Exploring the Cultural Journeys of Dictionaries of National Biography.” The conference will meet from 30 June to 2 July at Australian National University in Acton and the National Library of Australia at Parkes Place in Canberra. Those interested in attending may read more details on the conference, register for the event, and read the draft programme by visiting the following link:

http://ncb.anu.edu.au/biographies-of-nations

VII. Free Conference on “Embassies in Crisis”

On 9 June, the British Academy (10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London) will host a one-day conference on the topic of “Embassies in Crisis,” and will focus on the testimonies and perspectives of serving and former Embassy staff. The conference, organised by the Universities of Exeter and Strathclyde in conjunction with the FCO Historians and the British International History Group, is a free event but one must register beforehand to take part. To read more about the conference and to register, go to the following link:

http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/embassies-in-crisis-conference-at-the-british-academy-tickets-24897481036

VIII. Book of the Month

May 2016: Black Market Britain, 1939-1955

Reviewed by Adrian Smith, University of Southampton

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May 2016: Black Market Britain, 1939-1955

Mark Roodhouse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 288 pp. £65 (hardcover).

Reviewed by: Adrian Smith, University of Southampton

Five years ago I asked the campus cafe´ to provide a civilian’s rations for a week c. 1941, and to cook a Ministry of Food recipe. My students stared in astonishment at the mountain of sugar, asking how one individual could consume so much. They then swiftly polished off a Woolton Pie, declaring it a first class vegetarian dish. I soon sensed a fresh scepticism re the austere nature of life on the Home Front. More recently my Catholic mother mentioned a bookie’s runner taking bets from her blitzed office in wartime Coventry: here was someone whose moral code dictated that she turn up for work on the morning of 15 November 1940 (not surprisingly an astonished fireman sent her straight home); and yet she saw nothing wrong in a weekly flutter on the horses. Neither, incidentally, did it cross her mind that taking a bottle of whiskey through the customs at Holyhead constituted a serious transgression. Both anecdotes demonstrate how with the passage of time dominant tropes and widely shared assumptions can so easily be subverted, such that no aspect of the British war effort can be taken for granted. The popularity of the Woolton Pie and the distaste for an abundance of sugar illustrate changing diet, and confirm the central argument of David Kynaston in Austerity Britain that, for all the superficial familiarity of life seventy years ago, society really has changed quite significantly. Yet, ironically, although critics of secularism and prevailing social mores berate relative morality as a post-1960s phenomenon, examples such as my mother’s relaxed view of legal constraint challenge our notion of mid-century Britain as a conscience-driven, uniquely lawabiding nation.

This elementary point lies at the heart of Mark Roodhouse’s dense study of how the British people coped with being denied the little things that made life worth living across the course of the 1940s. Rationing continued into an era of rising affluence and aspiration, but an accelerated easing of controls late in the decade meant a diminishing return upon related criminal behaviour. Organised
crime, from the pooling of dockside pilfering through to gangland hijacking of fuel tankers, constituted the most damaging element of the black market, but not the most high profile. Then and now the black market is synonymous with the ‘spiv’, or the ‘wide boy’, with his pencil-thin moustache, zoot suit, and multipocketed trench coat. Here is an image which, courtesy of popular culture (not least Ealing comedies and Dad’s Army), remains as rooted in the national psyche as the phrase ‘fell off the back of a lorry’. The ubiquitous nature of black market parlance suggests that everyone was seeking to ‘wangle’ some ‘dodgy’ goods. Yet as Roodhouse makes clear, most people’s acquaintance with illegal trading was not via a street corner spiv. Attitudes towards spivs were ambivalent, so that in the cinema they could be portrayed as lovable rogues whereas in big cities they were the focus of anti-semitic attacks. Most spivs were gentiles, but the prominence of the Jewish community at every level of retailing, and within the clothing industry, encouraged a malign myth that Jews were reaping disproportionate rewards from black-market trading.

Spivs were essentially an urban phenomenon. Their disproportionate significance as the most resilient symbol of the black market signals Roodhouse’s contention that, for most of the adult population, moral relativism 1940s-style was displayed via the ‘grey market’. His book could accurately be called Fifty Shades of Grey had not another study of pain and desire previously claimed the title. For most people evasion of rationing controls entailed the misuse of coupons or the purchase of goods from ‘under the counter’ when dealing with local traders. It was small-scale law-breaking, and very few could claim never to have flaunted the regulations. The authorities secured a remarkable level of consensus by justifying a bafflingly complex system of rationing on the basis of ‘fairness’ rather than patriotic exhortation; while both collective and individual behaviour was moulded by a populist concept of ‘fairness’. Needless to say respective understandings of what was ‘fair’ often clashed, but Roodhouse illustrates how the local constabulary, many magistrates, and even some judges, often turned a blind eye to what was technically illegal because the letter of the law flew in the face of what the community deemed to be demonstrably ‘right’. The police, busy fighting wartime crime but nevertheless enjoying an unprecedented level of popularity, resented a Whitehall requirement to work closely with inspectors who were largely indifferent to local circumstance. ‘Fairness’ was of course dictated by circumstance, both immediate and external; so, for example, someone receiving illicit petrol in 1946 would not have done so a year earlier out of respect for seamen risking their lives to supply Britain with fuel. Indifference to official controls grew in proportion to a shared sense that they were no longer necessary, or, if introduced belatedly like bread rationing, were wholly unwarranted. Efforts to clamp down on both black and grey markets became that much harder the more extended the passage of time since the war. In consequence Attlee’s Labour government attracted more frequent accusations of heavy-handed behaviour than had Churchill’s wartime coalition.

Black Market Britain is based upon Mark Roodhouse’s doctoral thesis, and bears all the hall marks of sustained and intensive intellectual inquiry. This review scarcely touches upon the myriad of topics covered. The monograph is such a pioneering and wide-ranging historical and sociological survey that it is hard
to imagine any future investigation surpassing it – this surely is the nearest thing to a definitive statement. Ironically, precisely because it endeavours to cover so much, Black Market Britain is no easy read. In an ideal world it would provide a rich seam of material for Dr Roodhouse to draw upon when producing a lighter and more entertaining volume for a wider audience. Given OUP’s pricing
policy no doubt the author would make a second book available only to loyal readers and at a knock-down price, assuming of course that we asked nicely and told no-one.

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March 2016 Newsletter

I. Update on 2016 Britain and the World Conference: Venue and Date Change

The British Scholar Society would like to inform its newsletter readers that it has been found necessary to make a venue change for the 2016 Britain and the World Conference. Instead of Senate House at the University of London, the conference will now be held at King’s College London. The movement of our meeting place has necessitated a slight change in dates as well. The conference will now run from 22 to 24 June. All other aspects of the conference remain the same. This promises to be our biggest and most successful conference yet, and we are very excited about the better prospects for scholarly and social interaction that our movement to KCL promises.

Please continue to check the conference website for developments and updates:

http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/

II. 2016 Britain and the World Accommodation Information Available

In anticipation of the rooming needs for participants in the 2016 Britain and the World Conference, we are pleased to announce that we have secured 100 rooms at the Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, WC1H 0DG, just off Russell Square. The conference venue is 20 minutes’ walk (down Southampton Row/Kingsway), or 10 minutes’ on a constant stream of buses (numbers 68, 59, 91, 168, and 188) which is much quicker than the tube.  There are many other even closer hotels, although they are much more expensive.

Royal National rates are £98 for a single room and £123 for a twin room if booked by phone, £88 for a single room and £113 for a twin room if booked online: https://www.imperialhotels.co.uk/en/royal-national. Guests can also take advantage of their online BOGO Offer – complimentary dinner on the night of arrival for bookings of 2 or more consecutive nights. Early booking is advised, and any remaining rooms will be released on 28 May.

Additionally we have also arranged rooms from the LSE at their Bankside House, also 20 minutes’ walk, over the river. Prices for Bed and Breakfast per night: single room with shared bathroom £59; 2 single en-suite connecting rooms, £98, triple room en suite, £131, and quad room en suite, £147. Please visit  www.lsevacations.co.uk  or call (+44) 02079557676.

For more information, please visit the conference website:

http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/

III. New Issue of Britain and the World Journal Now Out

The March 2016 issue of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society has now been published and is available in print and to view online. This is the first issue edited by our new Editor-in-Chief, Professor John M. MacKenzie, under whose guidance Britain and the World will, we have no doubt, further cement its key role in providing innovative insights into the history of Britain and its global interactions.

Please go to the following link to access the newest edition of the journal, as well as previous issues:

http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/brw

IV. Britain and the World Journal Now in ERIH PLUS Index

Another piece of good news related to the journal is that Britain and the World was recently accepted for inclusion in European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS), which is highly respected for its initiatives to bring global attention to high quality humanities and social sciences research.

Interested parties can visit Britain and the World‘s listing on the ERIH PLUS website, where one can also find more information on the index more generally:

https://dbh.nsd.uib.no/publiseringskanaler/erihplus/periodical/info?id=484974

V. Society Director of Outreach on Thatcher, Delors, and European Integration

Society Director of Outreach Dr. Helene von Bismarck will be giving a talk shortly for the Contemporary British History Seminar (CBHS) at King College London’s Strand campus. Those interested can watch Dr. von Bismarck speak on 9 March on the topic of “Margaret Thatcher, Jacques Delors and the Relaunch of European Integration in the mid-1980s.”

For more information, please visit the following link:

http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/105

VI. Society General Editor in the Media

Following Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning victory in the Labour Party leadership elections, Society General Editor Dr. Martin Farr has been called on to provide his understanding of this important event in the context of post-1945 British politics. Recently, Dr. Farr offered his assessment of the conditions that have allowed Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 US presidential elections, to succeed in making a radical impact even though previous firebrands have failed.

Read Dr. Farr’s interesting and important thoughts at the following link:

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/jeremy-corbyn-bernie-sanders-putting-10848741

VII. CFP: Conference on Postwar British-French Relationship

The University of Strathclyde and the Institute of Historical Research have issued a Call for Papers for a conference titled: “Relations between Britain and France at the End of World War Two: Cooperation and Reconstruction.” They invite proposals for 20 minute papers on any aspect of the workshop theme. Please send paper proposals with an abstract of 250-300 words and one-page CV to Dr Karine Varley at KarinedotVarleyatstrathdotacdotuk  (KarinedotVarleyatstrathdotacdotuk)   by 18 March 2016.

For more information on the conference, go to the following link:

http://events.history.ac.uk/event/show/15030

VIII. Book of the Month

October 2015: Western Maternity and Medicine, 1880-1990

Reviewed by Jane Adams, University of Otago

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March 2016: Western Maternity and Medicine, 1880–1990

Janet Greenlees and Linda Bryder, (eds). London: Pickering & Chatto, 2013. xiii, 214 pp. £60.00 (hardcover).

Reviewed by: Jane Adams, University of Otago

The late nineteenth and twentieth centuries constituted a hugely important period in the development of maternity services, policies and science in the Western world, Janet Greenlees and Linda Bryder argue in their introductory essay to Western Maternity and Medicine, 1880–1990. Of particular significance from the woman’s perspective was the dramatic shift in the location of childbirth (from the home to the hospital) as well as a steep decline in maternal mortality rates from the 1930s and later in perinatal mortality, and increased public and political attention upon the health of pregnant mothers and their newborn babies.

These historical developments have already received significant scholarly attention (as Greenlees and Bryder acknowledge), particularly as a result of
developments in social history and feminist politics from the late 1970s. As a result of these ideological shifts, they argue that the dominant interpretation of
childbirth history that has emerged has been one of progressive male domination and the corresponding oppression or disempowerment of women (Ann Oakley’s
influential 1984 work The Captured Womb is given as a key example of this ideological trend). But Greenlees and Bryder argue that the actual historical
records convey a far more nuanced story than this dominant historiographical approach might suggest and instead, women have sometimes had far greater
agency into their maternity experiences (an argument developed by the likes of Canadian scholar Wendy Mitchinson, for example).

Accordingly, Greenlees, Bryder and the other contributors to this multiauthored collection of essays aim to focus their readers’ attention upon the mothers’ agency in their interactions with other stakeholders in maternity services, including physicians, midwives, governments and the voluntary sector. They seek to achieve this by adopting a case study approach, drawing upon a rich variety of historical records in their respective studies. These sources include the medical casebooks of particular institutions (Janet Greenlees, for example, uses them in her essay on the Church of Scotland’s home for unmarried mothers, as does Allison Nuttall in her essay on maternity hospitals in interwar Edinburgh and Gayle Davis in relation to an Edinburgh infertility clinic); coroners’ reports into maternal deaths (used by Madonna Grehan to examine midwifery care in the home birth setting); submissions to government inquiries (used by Gayle Davis and Linda Bryder); oral history interviews (used by Angela Davis to consider women’s childbirth experiences); and court cases (used by Allison L. Hepler to trace the development of foetal protection labour legislation).

The modern history of Scottish maternity services is particularly well represented in this volume, with four of the nine contributors (Salim Al-Gailani, Janet Greenlees, Allison Nuttall and Gayle Davis) examining various aspects of Scottish medicine and maternity services spanning the first half of the twentieth century. The other five contributors take as their focus late nineteenth-century Victoria, Australia (Madonna Grehan), New Zealand in the first half of the twentieth century (Linda Bryder), twentieth-century Ireland (Lindsey Earner- Byrne) and the United States (Allison L. Hepler) and late twentieth-century Berkshire and Oxfordshire in England (Angela Davis).

Overall, the contributors make a strong case for their focus upon maternal agency and succeed in framing their case studies within their broader historical contexts, and in particular the underlying ideological and religious concerns. Given the variety of case records and time periods that the contributors consider, it is not surprising that some essays in this volume lend themselves more naturally to capturing women’s perspectives than others. In particular, Angela Davis primarily uses oral history interviews from women recalling their childbirth experiences in relatively recent times (the 1970s and 1980s) to conclude that women were actually less critical of the medical interventions that they received in hospital (such as ultrasounds and episiotomies) than of the culture of the maternity units in which the interventions took place. In relation to the move from home to hospital births in the twentieth century, Allison Nuttall shows that the move was ultimately successful because it was driven by women’s desires (for pain relief, rest opportunities and expert medical care) rather than being medically enforced. Likewise, Linda Bryder argues in the New Zealand context that the move to hospital births succeeded due to lobbying by women’s organisations working in alliance with obstetricians.

Some contributors acknowledge and discuss the difficulties and limitations of using a ‘patient agency’ approach. Salim Al-Gailani, for example, considers Scottish obstetrician John William Ballantyne’s development of antenatal services in early twentieth-century Edinburgh and examines the underlying medico-moral ideologies underpinning the care of pregnant women. He argues that although it is essential to take pregnant women’s agency into account, their experiences can be difficult to recover from the historical record – this type of honest reflection is useful for other historians seeking to emulate a ‘patient agency’ approach.

Western Maternity and Medicine is a robust, well-presented collection of essays that traverses a surprisingly broad range of topics within its umbrella of ‘maternity and medicine’. In particular, Gayle Davis’ essay on infertility (which examines Scottish medical responses to artificial insemination in mid-twentieth-century Scotland) and Allison L. Hepler’s essay on workplace health are both refreshing inclusions in this volume, showing the potential for further scholarship that this fascinating subject area offers.

 

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Holiday Greetings from The British Scholar Society

The British Scholar Society would like to wish its members, contributors, conference goers, and newsletter readers a very happy holiday season.

The Society had a productive and successful 2015, and we are excited to build on our accomplishments in the coming year. A 2015 retrospective and information on what we can look forward to in 2016 will be in the next edition of the newsletter.

We would also like to provide a quick reminder of the deadline for abstract submissions to the 2016 Britain and the World Conference in London. Submissions must be received by 4 January 2016 for a guarantee of consideration. More information on the submission process and on the planned conference events can be found at http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/.

Again, from all of us here at The British Scholar Society, please accept our good wishes and hopes for your families, your work, and yourselves—now and in the coming year!

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November 2015 Newsletter

I. New Feature on The British Scholar Society’s Website: “Related Organisations”

The British Scholar Society has introduced a new outreach initiative, which will feature profiles of and information on organisations whose focus and methods are related to those of The British Scholar Society. Like our annual Britain and the World Conference, our journal Britain and the World, and the monthly British Scholar Newsletter, our hope is that this “Related Organisations” feature (http://britishscholar.org/outreach/related-organisations/) will bring scholars and groups of scholars from around the globe together in knowledge-sharing and collaboration. It is therefore with pleasure that we announce that the well-known and highly regarded Centre for Imperial and Global History (CIGH) at the University of Exeter will be the first profile in our Related Organisations feature. Read the full write-up about the CIGH at the following link:

http://britishscholar.org/outreach/related-organisations/the-centre-for-imperial-and-global-history-at-the-university-of-exeter-uk/

II. Reminder: Call for Papers for 2016 Britain and the World Conference in London

We would like to remind everyone of the Call for Papers for the ninth annual Britain and the World Conference, which will take place at Senate House at the University of London from 23 to 25 June 2016. Paper and panel proposals should focus on Britain’s interactions with the world from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the present.  Established scholars, scholars at the beginning of their careers, and graduate students are all equally welcome to apply and present at the conference.

The conference accepts both individual paper and complete panel submissions. Submissions of individual papers should include an abstract of 200 words as well as a few descriptive keywords. Panels are expected to consist of three to four papers and should be submitted by one person who is willing to serve as the point of contact.  Complete panels must also include a chair.  In addition to abstracts for each individual paper, panel submissions should also include a brief 100-150 word introduction describing the panel’s main theme. The conference does not discriminate between panels and individual paper submissions.

All submissions for inclusion in the Britain and the World Conference must be received by Monday, 4 January 2016. Submissions should be made electronically to editoratbritishscholardotorg  (editoratbritishscholardotorg)  . Updates regarding the conference will be periodically posted to the Society website. For additional details, please go to the following link:

http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/

III. Comments from New Editor-in-Chief of Britain and the World, Professor John M. MacKenzie, on Next Issue of Journal

Last month we made the exciting announcement that John M. MacKenzie, Emeritus Professor of Imperial History at the University of Lancaster, had been named the new Editor-in-Chief of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society. The next issue of the journal, Volume IX (2016), will be the first under Professor MacKenzie’s guidance, and the Board of Directors were pleased to learn that he has made the following statement about the contents of that issue:

“This is the first issue of Britain and the World for which I have acted as Editor-in-Chief, thereby giving me the great privilege of writing this introduction. For me, it is a hugely auspicious beginning since the articles here are so rich in their content and so revelatory of significant common threads that run through them.”

The rest of Professor MacKenzie’s piece can be found in Volume IX of Britain and the World, which will be released in March 2016. For more information on the journal, including instructions for submissions, please visit:

http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/brw

IV. Society General Editor on Recent UK Political Events and Trends

General Editor of The British Scholar Society, Dr. Martin Farr, has contributed several articles and extended commentaries on recent and ongoing matters in UK politics and society. Please visit the following links to read Dr. Farr’s insights.

On the deaths of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey:

http://theconversation.com/helmut-schmidt-and-denis-healey-twin-titans-of-another-age-50609

On the history and significance of the Shadow Cabinet in UK politics:

http://www.historyandpolicy.org/opinion-articles/articles/the-shadow-cabinet

On the review of the Freedom of Information Act:

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/review-freedom-information-act-could-10438923

V. Society Assistant General Editor on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Set in 1868 London

Society Assistant General Editor, Dr. Robert Whitaker, has used his expertise in British history and on history in video games to provide an analysis of Ubisoft’s new game Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, which is set in 1868 London. Speaking with Chris Suellentrop of Shall We Play a Game?, Dr. Whitaker (who is the creator and host of a web series on history and video games, History Respawned), describes the accuracies, inaccuracies, significance, and impact of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in the following interview:

http://shallweshow.com/2015/10/halo-5-fact-checking-assassins-creed-syndicate/

Dr. Whitaker’s insightful interview with Mr. Suellentrop also merited an additional write-up on Kotaku, a premier outlet for gaming news.

http://kotaku.com/what-the-new-assassins-creed-gets-wrong-and-right-ac-1739489922

VI. The British Scholar Society on Social Media

The Board of Directors would like to take this opportunity to remind our readers of The British Scholar Society’s profile and activities on social media. The Society has an active and informative Twitter account as well as a public Facebook profile, which are used to communicate Society events and initiatives as well as provide details on articles and other web content that are of interest to scholars of Britain and the world. Links for the Society’s Twitter and Facebook profiles can be found below:

http://twitter.com/britishscholar

http://www.facebook.com/The-British-Scholar-Society-166699463379093/?fref=ts

VII. Call for Papers: British International History Group

The British International History Group (BIHG) has issued a Call for Papers for its annual conference, which will be held 8-10 September 2016 at the University of Edinburgh. The deadline for submissions of paper and panel proposals is 1 March 2016. More information on the BIHG, its conference, and instructions for submissions can be found at:

http://www.bihg.ac.uk/

VIII. Book of the Month

October 2015: Africa, Empire and Globalization: Essays in Honor of A. G. Hopkins

Reviewed by James R. Brennan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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November 2015: Africa, Empire and Globalization: Essays in Honor of A. G. Hopkins

Toyin Falola and Emily Brownell (eds). Durham NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2011. 657 pp. $65.00 (hardcover).

Reviewed by: James R. Brennan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The impact of Antony G. Hopkins’ life work as a historian of Africa, the British Empire, and globalization is on full display in this festschrift volume of thirty-two chapters by thirty-five different authors. This book is a result of a symposium held in 2011 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Hopkins had held the Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History since 2002 following a distinguished academic career based in Birmingham, Geneva, and Cambridge. The editors begin by summarizing Hopkins’ publication record of nearly one hundred works, which not only impresses for its ambition and productivity, but also for its flinty commitment to the questions and concerns of economic history, to understand ‘how economic forces shape political realities’ (44). Two central themes emerge from this tour of Hopkins oeuvre – a belief in the economic agency of historical actors, be they individuals, firms, societies, or classes; and a universalist conviction that such agency transcends structures of cultural difference. To Hopkins’ mind, culturalist historians, by dint of their large numbers and professional influence, have effectively seceded the study of African poverty and development to economists with little background or concern for African history. Hopkins’ hallmark themes, however, are demonstrated to be alive and well across the many contributions of this volume. Above all, the reader comes to appreciate Hopkins’ unrivalled knack for initiating productive scholarly debate.

The most satisfying part of this volume is its first (‘Africa and the Wider World’), which is composed of essays from African historians that revisit aspects of Hopkins’ seminal An Economic History of West Africa (1973). This book remains, over forty years after publication, the most cogent book- length economic interpretation of the continent’s history. It still seems vaguely radical today, both in its insistence that Africans were largely the makers of their own economic history, and in the confident way that it dismisses substantivists and modernization theorists alike for positing a traditional Africa characterized by anti-capitalist values. Gareth Austin offers a rich retrospective of the book’s arguments and impact, and judges that subsequent research on Africa’s economic history has vindicated many if not all of Hopkins’ claims, in particular the explanatory power of rational economic behavior. He highlights Hopkins’ attention to African agency, markets, and resource constraints that continue to constitute the key features of more recent scholarship on African economic history. Austin’s literature survey is done with great clarity, rigor and command, and in effect serves as a useful primer for this entire subfield.

Although An Economic History of West Africa is a book of African economic agency, its pulses of periodization are largely exogenous, such as the nineteenth- century ‘crisis of adaptation’ that African warrior-merchants faced following the decline of the Atlantic slave trade and shift to ‘legitimate commerce’ such as palm oil. This volume’s contributions by other West African specialists more sharply qualify or even refute Hopkins’ signature thesis. Ann McDougall’s chapter on the Sahara, though inspired by Hopkins’ work, ultimately demonstrates the persisting autonomy of the trans-Saharan caravan trade across this entire period. In their study of Katsina, Yacine Daddi Adddoun and Paul Lovejoy make clear that the interior’s slave trade and Muslim commercial system proved ‘relatively immune to change in Atlantic trade’ (111–112) throughout the nineteenth century. Robin Law engages the ‘crisis of adaptation’ thesis directly by revisiting an important proving ground of the argument, the Yoruba War of 1877–93. Law argues, contra Hopkins, that the profitability of slave trading remained high and that of palm oil remained low throughout this period, and that the war itself was driven not by pressures from the palm oil producers below but rather by entrenched divisions among ruling Yoruba elites. While Austin’s wide-ranging defense of Hopkins’ classic work and these subsequent criticisms are each quite stimulating, the reader is left unsure about which elements of Hopkins’ model are most in need of revision.

The book’s second part (‘Empire’) examines the legacy and future of the influential volume British Imperialism, which Hopkins co-authored with Peter Cain. Its famous and well-coined thesis – that British Imperialism from the late seventeenth to twentieth centuries was primarily driven by ‘gentlemanly capitalism’, i.e., the influence of the City of London and other service industries, rather than provincial manufacturing interests, on Britain’s imperial policy – undergoes similar scrutiny. In perhaps the volume’s most important contribution of original research, Joseph Inikori tests the influence of gentlemanly capitalists in the case of Britain’s largely forgotten ‘first’ African colony of the Senegambia (1765–83). Inikori examines critical moments of decision-making to demonstrate that manufacturing interests, namely textiles, wielded inordinate influence to secure gum exports. Other regions of ostensibly greater ‘gentlemanly capitalist’ interest further east and south along the African coast, where the slave trade was far more important, however received no comparably favorable reception from the ‘official mind’, which, at least in this instance of the Senegambia, ‘identified manufacturing concerns with national interest, while those of the service sector were identified with private interest’ (228). Anthony Webster’s outstanding contribution on the decline of the East India Company offers a trenchant critique of the Cain and Hopkins model by challenging the model’s key assumptions – that there was a sharp division between London-centered services and provincial manufacturers, and that they inevitably competed to influence government policy. Webster shows, at least in the case of Asian trade from the 1790s to the 1850s, that pressure groups are far better characterized by complicated and intertwined networks rather than by large blocs. The displacement of the East India Company over this period was not simply the work of more agile gentlemanly capitalists outside the company, but rather was a decades-long lobbying campaign carried out by ‘a transimperial network of interests across Britain’s Asian empire that linked London gentlemanly capitalists, provincial industrialists and merchants, and British merchants on the periphery of empire’ (289). Webster does acknowledge, however, that gentlemanly capitalism works far better to explain the shape of lobbying after 1850, when divisions between services and manufacturers considerably sharpened.

The book’s third part (‘Globalization’) ranges across a vast thematic and geographical terrain. There is a more pronounced ‘grab-bag’ quality to this section, perhaps because Hopkins’ writing on globalization has not (yet) constructed similarly controversial and testable models as has his work on Africa and the British Empire. But as throughout the book, the quality of writing and reflection in this section’s contributions remains consistently high, and there are a number of interesting gems. William Roger Louis revisits the fascinating maneuverings at the United Nations that led to the partition of Palestine in 1947 to highlight the postwar diplomatic vulnerability of the British Empire – not only from both Cold War titans, but also from within the Commonwealth itself, namely Canada and Australia, while a desperate Britain was left, ironically, to count on India, Pakistan, and the Arab world for votes. Other contributions on the Black Atlantic, Pan-Africanism, American anticommunist multilateralism, and the Nigerian Civil War all similarly demonstrate the profitability of globalizing units of analysis.

The book itself is big, heavy, handsomely produced, and includes a full index. The heft of its scholarship justifies its hefty price. This volume will serve as an important reference for scholars interested in the scholarship and principal debates concerning the economic history of Africa, the British Empire, and globalization.

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October 2015 Newsletter

I. Call for Papers: 2016 Britain and the World Conference

The British Scholar Society is pleased to issue a formal Call for Papers for the ninth annual Britain and the World Conference, which will take place at Senate House at the University of London from 23 to 25 June 2016. Paper and panel proposals should focus on Britain’s interactions with the world from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the present.  Established scholars, scholars at the beginning of their careers, and graduate students are all equally welcome to apply and present at the conference.

The conference accepts both individual paper and complete panel submissions. Submissions of individual papers should include an abstract of 200 words as well as a few descriptive keywords. Panels are expected to consist of three to four papers and should be submitted by one person who is willing to serve as the point of contact.  Complete panels must also include a chair.  In addition to abstracts for each individual paper, panel submissions should also include a brief 100-150 word introduction describing the panel’s main theme. The conference does not discriminate between panels and individual paper submissions.

All submissions for inclusion in the Britain and the World Conference must be received by Monday, 4 January 2016. Submissions should be made electronically to editoratbritishscholardotorg  (editoratbritishscholardotorg)  . Updates regarding the conference will be periodically posted to the Society website. For additional details, please go to the following link:

http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/

II. Keynote and Plenary Speakers for 2016 Britain and the World Conference Announced

In addition to dozens of panels, the 2016 Britain and the World Conference will feature four general lectures. We are delighted to say that our keynote speaker for 2016 is Professor Catherine Hall (University College London), whose groundbreaking work on Britain and its empire is known to all in the field of British Studies. We also have scheduled three additional plenary speakers who are also leaders in the field: Professor Stephen Conway (University College London), Professor Margaret Hunt (Uppsala University), and Professor Philip Murphy (Institute of Commonwealth Studies).  Check the conference website in the coming weeks and months for more information on the subjects of our speakers’ presentation (http://britishscholar.org/conference-2016/).

III. Professor John M. MacKenzie Named Editor-in-Chief of Britain and the World

It gives us great pleasure to announce that John M. MacKenzie, Emeritus Professor of Imperial History at the University of Lancaster, Honorary Professor at the University of St. Andrews, Honorary Professor at the University of Aberdeen, and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, has been named the Editor-in-Chief of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society. He is the Founding Editor of the Studies in Imperialism series (Manchester University Press), which has published more than 100 volumes over the past three decades. Professor MacKenzie is widely considered to be the foundational figure in the cultural study of British imperialism.

Volume IX (2016) of the journal will mark the beginning of Professor MacKenzie’s tenure. For more information on Britain and the World, including instructions for submissions, please visit the journal website at:

http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/brw

IV. New Volume in “Britain and the World” Book Series

A new volume, Angela Thompsell’s Hunting Africa: British Sport, African Knowledge and the Nature of Empire, has been released in The British Scholar Society’s “Britain and the World” book series published by Palgrave Macmillan, which intriguingly describes Dr. Thompsell’s book as “[recovering] the multiplicity of meanings embedded in colonial hunting and the power it symbolized by examining both the incorporation and representation of British women hunters in the sport and how African people leveraged British hunters’ dependence on their labor and knowledge to direct the impact and experience of hunting.”

For more information on this exciting addition to the “Britain and the World” book series, go to http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/hunting-africa-angela-thompsell/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137494429. More details on the book series, as well as information on how interested authors can propose a title, can be found at:

http://www.palgrave.com/series/britain-and-the-world/BAW/

V. Promotion of Society Associate Editor to the Board of Directors

The British Scholar Society has welcomed a new member of the Board of the Directors, Helene von Bismarck. Dr. von Bismarck has served as an Associate Editor for the Society since May 2012, and has now taken up the post of the Society’s Director of Outreach. More information on Dr. von Bismarck’s work and accomplishments can be seen at:

http://britishscholar.org/dr-des-helene-von-bismarck/

VI. New Feature from The British Scholar Society

Among Dr. von Bismarck’s new initiatives as Director of Outreach is a new feature for The British Scholar Society’s website (http://britishscholar.org) on organizations and institutions related to the Society’s areas of interest and goals. Dr. von Bismarck describes this new feature below:

“It is the aim of The British Scholar Society to encourage conversation and intellectual exchange on the topic of Britain’s place, both historic and present, in the world. This is why, from now on, we will regularly portray other institutions and organizations on our website, whose work, events and publications could be relevant to our members. We will feature university departments, scholarly associations and other intellectual networks. Our hope is to foster international dialogue and encourage collaboration among colleagues by drawing the attention of our readers to the many interesting places where important research about Britain’s political, cultural and economic interactions with the wider world since the seventeenth century is being conducted. If you would like to see your institution portrayed on our website, please contact helenedotvondotbismarckatbritishscholardotorg  (helenedotvondotbismarckatbritishscholardotorg)  .”

VII. Society General Editor Comments on New Labour Party Leader

The General Editor of The British Scholar Society, Martin Farr, has recently been in the news for providing expert commentary on the recent election of the new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Dr. Farr’s contributions to discussion and debate over Mr. Corbyn’s stunning victory, and that victory’s deeply significant implications, are available to read at the following links:

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/newcastle-university-professor-warns-corbyn-10140959

http://theconversation.com/explainer-just-how-exceptional-is-jeremy-corbyns-victory-47500

VIII. UK National Archives Seeking New Delegates for User Advisory Group

The UK National Archives has issued a call for new voluntary representatives to join their User Advisory Group (UAG). According to TNA, the UAG “aims to give people who use our services the opportunity to participate in The National Archives’ planning and decision making processes. Delegates represent ‘the voice’ of different sections of our user community, not only their own interests. As well as attending meetings, each delegate has a responsibility to engage with members of their user communities, to share information and to gather feedback.”

More information on this opportunity can be found at the following link:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/seeking-new-delegates-for-the-user-advisory-group/

IX. Book of the Month

October 2015: Victorian Bloomsbury

Reviewed by Susie Steinbach, Hamline University

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October 2015: Victorian Bloomsbury

Ashton, Rosemary. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2012. xiii, 380 pp. £25.00 (hardcover).

Reviewed by: Susie Steinbach, Hamline University

In Eminent Victorians, his scathing 1918 attack on the generations that preceded him and his contemporaries, Lytton Strachey confidently announced that ‘ignorance is the first requisite of the historian’ and that therefore ‘the history of the Victorian Age will never be written; we know too much about it’. Today we could say that by that standard the history of Strachey’s own circle, the infamous ‘Bloomsbury group’ of sexual radicals who were also experimental modernist writers, critics, and artists, need never again be written. We have heard far too much about it, mostly from members of the group itself, who are known for making Bloomsbury the intellectual centre of progressive London it is today.

Except – as Rosemary Ashton’s Victorian Bloomsbury makes it a pleasure to learn – that they didn’t. In this deeply-researched, well-written, and expansive book, Ashton demonstrates that Bloomsbury actually became ‘Bloomsbury’ not in 1904, when sisters Virginia and Vanessa Stephen – later Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell – moved in to the neighbourhood, but during the nineteenth century. Ashton shows us that between the 1820s and the 1890s, Bloomsbury ‘drew in…a conspicuously large number of reforming educational and cultural institutions [along with] enlightened, energetic, and in some cases eccentric people’ (13). ‘Bloomsbury’, it turns out, is an invention of the Victorians against whom the Bloomsbury group rebelled. Victorian Bloomsbury makes the case that however radical the work that Woolf and her circle produced, the neighbourhood in which they chose to settle was already congenial to their goals. In so doing, it contributes to a larger conversation in which scholars are reassessing just how radical early twentieth-century the modernists were.

In ten chapters (plus introduction and epilogue), Ashton presents a complex, multi-faceted history of the Bloomsbury area. We meet a wide variety of individuals: reformer Henry Brougham, eccentric Dionysius Lardner, theologian F.D. Maurice, education advocates Elizabeth Reid and Maria Grey, novelist, philanthropist, and Arnold family scion Mary Ward. Fascinating on their own terms, in Victorian Bloomsbury these people are part of larger histories of institutions and movements – some familiar, some less so, since to its credit the book covers not only those innovations that became permanent fixtures, but also those efforts that failed. We learn much about the British Museum, of course, and the University of London. But we also learn about the millenarian Catholic Apostolic Church and the Ladies’ College School for Girls. There are chapters on educational institutions from University College, London to the Working Men’s and Working Women’s Colleges to the Passmore Edwards Settlement (later the Mary Ward House) to the new ‘kindergartens’ for young children. There are also stories about science and medicine: Edinburgh-trained Scots who came to teach medicine at the University of London, specialist hospitals such as the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease, experiments in mesmerism and anaesthesia and homoeopathy. Perhaps more surprising to the modern reader, there are also stories of faith: the juxtaposition of two Anglican churches, fashionable St George’s and its neighbour St Giles-in-the-Fields, set in the centre of one of London’s most infamous slums; the rise of the mystical Swedenborg Society; the lure of charismatic preacher Edward Irving.

As Ashton skilfully knits these diverse stories of people and places into a single compelling history, several aspects of her work stand out. The research on which the book is based is impressively broad and deep; Ashton uses the work of other scholars, as is necessary for a project that covers so much ground, but has also done an impressive amount of archival work that enables her to cite a wide variety of primary sources. She does an especially nice job of integrating sources about space such as maps and building plans with egodocuments such as diaries and letters. This makes the book a contribution to the growing shelf of historical works that focus on place and space, rather than taking them as unproblematic scenery in front of which history happened. Long quotations, often from rarely-cited sources, give the reader a real feel for the period and the people. The book’s length and depth may make it seem daunting, but it lends itself to being read either in whole or in part. Most chapters work well on their own, as the story of an institution or set of reforming impulses. It can be approached in a wide variety of ways; as a history of how the railways remade the metropole, of the British Museum, of medical training, or of education, among others. And the overall narrative also creates connections across chapters and subtopics, via persistent themes and professional and friendship networks that linked sometimes disparate initiatives. Ashton’s thick description supports her argument that ‘inasmuch as an area can be meaningfully characterised as “radical” or “progressive”, these adjectives applied to Bloomsbury’ (13).

Overall, this is fascinating work. It contributes to the rethinking of the Bloomsbury radicals as more Victorian than they would have cared to admit. It enacts the new ‘spatial turn’ in history by demonstrating how a neighbourhood can be the main character who brings all the other characters in the story together. It is sure to both please and enlighten a wide variety of readers.

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John M. MacKenzie named Editor-in-Chief of Britain and the World

John M. MacKenzie, Emeritus Professor of Imperial History at the University of Lancaster, Honorary Professor at the University of St. Andrews, Honorary Professor at the University of Aberdeen, and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, has been named the Editor-in-Chief of Britain and the World: Historical Journal of The British Scholar Society.  He is the Founding Editor of the Studies in Imperialism series (Manchester University Press), which has published more than 100 volumes over the past three decades.  Professor MacKenzie is widely considered to be the founder of the cultural study of British imperialism.  Volume IX (2016) will mark the beginning of Professor MacKenzie’s tenure.

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