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South African Remains

E. P. Thompson, Biko, and the Limits of The Making of the English Working Class

Isabel Hofmeyr

E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class exercised a substantial influence on the South African academy and acted as a key shaper of a “history from below” movement in the 1980s. While Thompson's influence in South Africa has been celebrated, the limits of his circulation are less frequently explored. This article takes on this task by placing The Making alongside Steve Biko's I Write What I Like. Biko was a major figure in the emergence of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM). The article compares the interlinked formations of which the two texts formed a part—the BCM displaced white radical intellectuals, who retreated into class analysis as an analytical alternative to race. The article also examines specific copies of the two titles found in South African libraries and uses the different patterns of marginalia as a way of tracing the individual impacts of the two texts.

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Making and Unmaking the Working Class

E. P. Thompson and the “New Labor History” in the United States

James R. Barrett

For both political and historiographical reasons, E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class had a great impact on the new radical US history at its moment of gestation. Thompson's Socialist Humanism appealed to younger radical historians seeking to break with both Cold War liberalism and a highly structuralist form of Marxism. His looser conception of class and his emphasis on culture shaped a new more flexible conception of class formation. Yet Thompson's interrogation of class analysis, and the racial and ethnic complexity of the process in the United States, encouraged an emphasis on “unmaking” in the American context. If we have deconstructed and greatly complicated the notions of class and class formation, this process started not with postmodern theory but rather with The Making. The experience of class, which resides at the center of the book, also draws our attention to the emotional dimension of class.

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History from Down Under

E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class and Australia

Ann Curthoys

E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class was influential in Australia as it was throughout the Anglophone world. The focus of interest changed over time, starting with the fate of those of The Making's radical protesters who were transported to the Australian colonies, and then focusing on questions of class formation and the relationship between agency and structure. The peak of influence was in the 1980s, especially in the rising field of social history, and a little later in the burgeoning field of cultural history. Yet The Making's own limitations on questions of gender, race, and colonialism meant that feminist and indigenous histories, which were transforming the discipline, engaged with it only indirectly. In recent years, as the turn to transnational, imperial, and Indigenous histories has taken hold, Thompson's influence has somewhat declined.

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Lara Kriegel

Considerations of E. P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class have situated its 1963 publication within political, social, and intellectual contexts. A study of its cultural, emotional, and affective contexts remains lacking. This article locates The Making in the context of an important genre developed, on stage and on screen, at the moment of its publication: the “kitchen sink” dramas written by the so-called Angry Young Men, including Look Back in Anger (1956/1959), A Kind of Loving (1960/1962), and A Taste of Honey (1958/1961). It understands these texts as a collective commentary on loss—the loss experienced by Thompson's working class subject and by his learned readership, too—and assesses the affective dimensions of class beyond Thompson's rendition of class formation. In so doing, it follows on the work of feminist critics and cultural historians who have sought, at once, to augment and challenge the view of class formation that E. P. Thompson was able to provide. Through this engagement, it seeks to extend Thompson's interest in the contours of class formation into a domestic sphere concerned, among other things, with emotional relations, consumer practice, and reproductive politics.

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Talking History

E. P. Thompson, C. L. R. James, and the Afterlives of Internationalism

Utathya Chattopadhyaya

In 1983, H. O. Nazareth directed a film called Talking History, which brought together E. P. Thompson and C. L. R. James in conversation. The soundtrack was composed by Spartacus R, former bassist for the Black Rock band, Osibisa. Over the twenty years since the publication of The Making of the English Working Class in 1963, Thompson had confronted several questions around colonialism, law, and constitutionalism that had not found emphasis in The Making. Talking History marks a unique point in the trajectory of Thompson's engagement with some of those questions, while simultaneously revealing the limits of that engagement. In addition to being a useful window into the political worldview of James and Thompson in the early 1980s, the film is also demonstrative of the afterlives of internationalism in the twentieth century. This article argues that revisiting internationalism, as a practice of political activism and critical dialogue, with its possibilities and limits, allows us to carefully rethink some of our contemporary political and intellectual practices.

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Radical Book History

E. P. Thompson and The Making of the English Working Class

Antoinette Burton

This special issue on E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963) grew out of a symposium I organized at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in October 2013 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the book’s publication. I am, on the face of it, one of the least likely modern British historians to be organizing such an event. I can remember the first time I held the weighty tome in my hands: I was a junior in college, in the fall of 1982, and it was on the syllabus for a course I was taking on Victorian Britain, taught by Jonathan Schneer at Yale University. As did many feminist and postcolonial historians of my generation, I struggled with what I saw as Thompson’s indifference to women and gender (oh, those deluded followers of Joanna Southcott!) and his incapacity to see the evidence of race and empire in his sources even when they cried out from below the footnote line for all to see.

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Christine Regan

Eloquence . 18 The contextual importance of these traditions for the filial sonnets and the entire interrelated sequence is paratextually signalled by Harrison taking an epigraph for School from E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class

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Introduction

For or against commoning?

Ida Susser

cities: The three urban commons . Focaal—Journal of Historical and Global Anthropology 66 : 105 – 121 . Thompson , Edward Palmer . 1964 . The Making of the English Working Class . New York : Pantheon Books .

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Recovered enterprises from the South to the North

Reclaiming labor, conflict, and mutualism in Italy

Giovanni Orlando

making of the English working class . London : Vintage Books . Thorleifsson , Cathrine . 2016 . “ From coal to Ukip: The struggle over identity in post-industrial Doncaster .” History and Anthropology 27 ( 5 ): 555 – 568 . 10

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Elif Mahir Metinsoy

social history of ordinary people in E. P. Thompson’s studies, specifically The Making of the English Working Class and Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture , shows how to identify the agency of ordinary women. 45 Furthermore, the