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Thatcher’s Sons?

1980s Boyhood in British Cinema, 2005–2010

Andy Pope

The 1980s have been mediated constantly since their end, with British cinema in particular engaging with the decade’s political, social, and cultural landscape through a masculine perspective. Seventeen British films set in the 1980s were produced from 2005 to 2010, with many presenting a personal response to the boyhood of their screenwriters during the Thatcher decade. This article considers the determinants of this phenomenon, the meaning for contemporary men of 1980s cultural nostalgia, and the role of the father in these films. Two films in particular, Son of Rambow and This is England, center boyhood and patriarchal absence within their personal narratives. Although these films indicate that the 1980s are a difficult period for the male characters in these narratives, I argue that for a number of their screenwriters and directors, revisiting their boyhood through these cultural texts indicates a nostalgic reluctance to move on from the 1980s. How this contradiction defines contemporary masculinity in Britain will be a key consideration in this article.

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Yuval Benziman

Changes in Israeli politics, diplomacy, and the Israeli-Arab conflict, changes in Israeli cultural texts dealing with the conflict, and changes in Israeli writing of fiction—all led to significant changes in how the Israeli-Arab conflict is portrayed in Israeli fiction written in the 1980s. Comprising fictional texts about the conflict, the novels and films examined in this article actually deal with the inability to tell the story. The conflict is portrayed as too deep-rooted and complicated, to the extent that it is impossible to recount it and construct a dialogue or to find common grounds for comprehending it. The texts almost always end up in death, no Jewish-Arab personal relation prevails, and most of the interactions are through the military. According to the texts examined here, these two societies appear to need the conflict in order to overcome bitter conflicts within themselves; and Arab-Palestinian Israeli citizens feel that they cannot live in Israel.

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“Your Young Lesbian Sisters”

Queer Girls’ Voices in the Liberation Era

Amanda H. Littauer

Drawing on letters and essays written by teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s, and building on my historical research on same-sex desiring girls and girlhoods in the postwar United States, I ask how teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s pursued answers to questions about their feelings, practices, and identities and expressed their subjectivities as young lesbian feminists. These young writers, I argue, recognized that they benefitted from more resources and role models than did earlier generations, but they objected to what they saw as adult lesbians’ ageism, caution, and neglect. In reaching out to sympathetic straight and lesbian public figures and publications, girls found new ways to combat the persistent isolation and oppression faced by youth whose autonomy remained severely restricted by familial, educational, and legal structures.

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Silke Mende

The West German Green Party's 1983 entrance into the Bundestag marked a major break, both in the history of this young political force and the parliamentary system of the Bonn Republic. The Greens had been founded in opposition to the guiding principles of the West German postwar consensus and conceived of themselves as an “anti-parliamentary party.” Although they had gained parliamentary experience in some regional chambers, their entrance onto the national parliamentary stage juxtaposed old ideals and new challenges—for the Greens themselves as well as for German political culture. Taking this singular historic moment as a starting point, this article summarizes the formation of the Greens in the context of the changing political and ideological landscape of the 1970s. It also contrasts the party's formation with the transformations in terms of program and personnel that it undertook during the 1980s. The focus lies less on the specific activities of the green parliamentary group than on the broader developments in green politics and thinking.

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Motorcycling in 1980s Athens

Popularization, Representational Politics, and Social Identities

Panagiotis Zestanakis

Between the late 1970s and the early 1990s the number of motorcycles circulating in Athens almost quadrupled. Th is article examines the spread of motorcycling during the 1980s as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon. By examining representations of motorcycling as a deviant lifestyle, the article focuses on the strategies used to stigmatize bikers. Moreover, it describes the popularization of motorcycling and explores how public anxiety about it led to the emergence of new associations such as the motorcycle clubs. Finally, it argues that motorcycling represented a male lifestyle not completely inaccessible to women, a development that testifies to greater flexibility regarding contemporary gender norms and preferences.

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Governing Global Aeromobility

Canada and Airport Refugee Claimants in the 1980s

Bret Edwards

This article surveys Canada’s regulatory response to global aeromobility in the late twentieth century. It examines the Canadian state’s strategies to restrict the movement of refugee claimants landing at airports during the 1980s and the national discourse around this process. Mass air travel enabled more refugees, particularly from the Global South, to travel to Canada and, in the process, challenged how the country governed aerial and cosmopolitan populations. In response, Canadian authorities erected an enforcement regime at the country’s international airports, which transformed them into contested entry points to national space and normative citizenship where links between mobility, borders, and nation were simultaneously reinforced and contested. This article thus provides an integral case study of national ambivalence toward global aeromobility in the late twentieth century.

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Kah Seng Loh and Michael D. Pante

A history of urban floods underlines the state's efforts to discipline people as well as to control floodwaters. We focus on two big cities in Southeast Asia—Singapore and Metro Manila—in the period from after World War II until the 1980s. During this period, both cities traversed similar paths of demographic and socioeconomic change that had an adverse impact on the incidence of flooding. Official responses to floods in Singapore and Manila, too, shared the common pursuit of two objectives. The first was to tame nature by reducing the risk of flooding through drainage and other technical measures, as implemented by a modern bureaucracy. The second was to discipline human nature by eradicating “bad” attitudes and habits deemed to contribute to flooding, while nurturing behavior considered civic-minded and socially responsible. While Singapore's technocratic responses were more effective overall than those in Metro Manila, the return of floodwaters to Orchard Road in recent years has highlighted the shortcomings of high modernist responses to environmental hazards. This article argues that in controlling floods—that is, when nature is deemed hazardous—the state needs to accommodate sources of authority and expertise other than its own.

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Béchir Oueslati, Marie McAndrew and Denise Helly

This article examines the evolution of the representation of Islam and Muslim cultures in textbooks in Quebec. Results indicate signicant improvements in the new secondary school history textbooks, both quantitatively (for they contain more information about pillars, key concepts, and relations with Christianity and Judaism) and qualitatively (on account of their depth of coverage, fewer negative views than in the 1980s, and fewer factual errors than in the 1990s). The positive role played by Muslim scientists in preserving old knowledge and enriching is also recognized. However, textbooks still view Islam as a religion of submission, proscriptions, and forced conversion, failing to recognize the diversity within Islam and Muslim cultures.

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Black and White on the Silver Screen

Views of Interracial Romance in French Films and Reviews since the 1980s

Jon Cowans

This article explores French attitudes about race during and after the years of the National Front's breakthrough by looking at French films and film reviews on the topic of interracial couples. In a country in which antiracists have been reluctant to legitimize the concept of race by talking about it, but in which the far Right has made gains by proclaiming its own views on race, French film-makers in the 1980s and after broached the topic in numerous films, but they often did so in ways that avoided controversy or serious reflection on current French racism. French critics of both French and American films featuring interracial couples also sidestepped the most explosive issues, revealing a disinclination to discuss a troubling and divisive concept, but also a persistent belief that racism remained an American problem and obsession.

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Back in Time Yet of His Time

Marty McFly as a 1980s Teenage Boy Role Model

Daniel Smith-Rowsey

In a world of overprotected, overscheduled children, parents look to the past, and even to Hollywood, for insight about how children were raised before minimal risk equated to serious hazard. The most recent corpus of films to feature minors who grew up without our current preoccupation with child safety was the somewhat well-established canon of 1980s teen films, but this canon tends to exclude the original Back to the Future film. While Back to the Future is hardly a neglected text, extant studies have elided its exploration and indeed exploitation of adolescent themes as well as its affinity with contemporary films about teenagerhood. I contend that when we look back for recent cues on coping through boyhood without so-called helicopter parents, and we consider the likes of Jeff Spicoli, Lloyd Dobler, and Ferris Bueller, we can find further valuable lessons by including Marty McFly.