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"The aboriginal people of England"

The culture of class politics in contemporary Britain

Gillian Evans

This article explores the legal precedent of the case of Mandla versus Dowell-Lee (Mandla v Dowell-Lee 1983) to explain how the far right British National Party mobilizes ethnic strategies and specifically the category of “indigenous Britons,“ to turn post-colonial multiculturalism on its head and thereby disavow the realities of a post-industrial, multiracial working class in Britain. The article argues that the historical moment in contemporary Britain is characterized by a shift away from the politics of social class toward collective organization and sentiment based on ethnicity and cultural nationalism. Drawing on ethnographic and historical research, conducted between 1998 and 2000 on the post-industrial Docklands of Southeast London, the article explains an exceptional local area case study, which proves the rule about the growth in influence in the first decade of the twenty-first century of far-right politics in post-industrial urban areas of Britain.

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Eve Rachele Sanders and Margaret W. Ferguson

Literacy, in the sixteenth century, was construed as multiple, variable,

subject to redefinition by edict from above and by practices from

below. The importance of regulating changes in skills and behaviors,

in particular, increased reading of the Bible, was hotly debated as the

Reformation got underway. In England, the Tudor state intervened

erratically, first encouraging the reading of the English Bible for all,

then forbidding its reading to all but a privileged few. In 1538, every

parish church was required by a royal injunction to purchase an English

Bible and place it in the choir.1 The Great Bible, published in

1540 with a new preface by the Archbishop of Canterbury, stressed

the ideal of an England peopled by ‘all manner’ of readers of Scripture

in the vernacular: ‘Here may all manner of persons, men,

women, young, old, learned, unlearned, rich, poor, priests, laymen,

lords, ladies, officers, tenants, and mean men, virgins, wives, widows,

lawyers, merchants, artificers, husbandmen, and all manner of

persons, of what estate or condition soever they be, may in this book

learn all things’.2 Only three years later, however, in 1543, the selfvauntingly

named Act for the Advancement of True Religion and for

the Abolishment of the Contrary attempted to undo that opening of

the floodgates by lowering them again to allow for only a trickle of

elite readers to have access to Scripture. Reading the Bible in English

was prohibited outright for women, artificers, journeymen,

serving-men of the rank of yeoman and under, husbandmen and

laborers; noblewomen and gentlewomen could read the Bible

silently; only noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants were permitted

to read it aloud to others.

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Private Politics in the Garden of England

An Atypical Case of Anti–Wind Farm Contention

Matthew Ogilvie

This article analyzes an atypical case of anti–wind farm contention at Marden in southeast England. Anti–wind farm campaigns have typically sought to resist developments through planning institutions. Although it focused on planning, the Marden campaign successfully pursued a “private politics” strategy, pressuring businesses (e.g., developer, investors, landowner) to withdraw their support and commitment. Drawing on ten semistructured interviews with stakeholders and extensive documentary analysis, this article describes and explains this atypical case. Marden’s private politics involved strategic framing that aligned with businesses’ claims to corporate social and environmental responsibility. Although direct attempts to persuade companies on these terms failed, when the campaign “went public” economic actors withdrew support. Marden’s trajectory and outcome are explained via resources and context particular to the case, and the potential reputational damage associated with its framing strategy. The article ends by noting interesting relationships and parallels between private politics and state-focused local contention.

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Benoît Godin

Our present understanding of innovation is closely linked to science and research on the one hand and economy and industry on the other. It has not always been so. Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the concept was mainly used in religious and political discourses. In these contexts, actors used it in a pejorative sense. Innovation, imagined as a radical transformation, was considered a peril to the established social order. Such was natural philosophers’ understanding. This article documents Francis Bacon’s work as an eminent example of such a representation. To Bacon, natural philosophy and innovation are two distinct spheres of activity. It is documented that Bacon’s uses of the concept of innovation are found mainly in political, legal, and moral writings, not natural philosophy, because to Bacon and all others of his time, innovation is poli tical.

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Amanda Golby

I really felt that this very well researched book by Dr David Mendelsson, a

Jerusalem-based academic, who grew up in England, and now teaches at

Hebrew Union College and Hebrew University, was almost three books in one,

though, of course, each one impacting on the other. It covers the state position

with regard to education in England, including changes in legislation, various

debates within the political parties, and the changing nature of the population,

particularly the increasing number of ethnic minority children, and discussions

with regard to the influence of multiculturalism. It looked at the changing nature

of Jewish education in England over the period, both full and part-time, and

the factors which influenced it, both internal to the Jewish community, and as a

response to being part of the wider society and its changes, and, thirdly, also the

organisational structure of the community. There is the complexity of relations

between different Orthodox groups, the strictly Orthodox, more mainstream,

and the Reform and Liberal world, and touched on the Jacobs affair, and the

changes within all of these over the period. It is fascinating to follow the journey

from a time when integration was considered vital, to the present where record

numbers of Jewish children are attending record numbers of Jewish schools,

and to wonder what the future will bring

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Farid Azfar

This essay offers a close reading of a highly influential ballad, one that played a significant role in the excise crisis of 1733 when it helped turn public sentiment against Robert Walpole's government. The ballad, which plays upon Walpole's use of the term "sturdy beggars" to insult a group of petitioning merchants, manipulates both positive and negative visions of beggary. At the same time, the ballad aligns the merchants who opposed the excise bill with several cultural iterations of the strong and suffering type, including social bandits and martyred heroes. In the decades that followed, the sturdy beggars affair came to represent the extreme malleability of political rhetoric. It explains the emergence in the 1730s of a powerful strain of postpolitical exhaustion with demotic culture.

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John D. Rayner

In the history of Progressive Jewish liturgy, Britain's Liberal movement has, in spite of its relatively small numbers, played a unique role.

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Sasha Roberts

The history of reading in early modern England is elusive and teasing

– offering glimpses of readers but rarely a detailed view of how

they read; posing more questions than answers. In part this is

because the history of reading is still a relatively new field of

enquiry, and our knowledge of reading practices in the period is

slowly accruing piece by piece. In the last two decades especially,

the history of books and reading has undergone a transformation:

reading practices have increasingly been located in terms of their

cultural specificity; particular readers, reading acts, and libraries in

early modern England have been brought to light; the material histories

of books and the ‘sociology of texts’ have inspired new

directions in bibliography, while research into manuscript culture

has revealed specific readers and annotators at work.1 As Robert

Darnton suggests, the history of books and reading is not so much

a field of study as ‘a tropical rain forest. The explorer can hardly

make his way across it’, criss-crossing tracks between academic

disciplines and different caches of evidence.2 Sources relating to

readers, reading acts, and reading practices in early modern England

are vast and disparate, scattered across a myriad of genres,

fields, and disciplines – from fiction to the documents of social history;

from written texts to physical artefacts; from the literary to the

non-literary; from print to manuscript. The sheer range and inconclusivity

of much of this material demands that we make careful

distinctions between sources for a history of reading, and confront

the methodological challenges they pose. This special issue on Reading in Early Modern England stems out of a Shakespeare

Association of America seminar in 1999 on the topic.3 In this short

essay I do not attempt to provide an introduction to the history of

reading in early modern England, but instead to voice issues raised

by the seminar in relation to three key areas: women’s reading,

social differentiation, and textual transmission.

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Geoff Kennedy

This article examines the development of popular discourses of liberty as independence emerging from the struggles between peasants and landlords over the course of the late medieval and early modern periods. This discourse, relating to the aspirations of the dependent peasantry for free status, free tenure, and free labor, articulated a conception of independence that overlapped with the emerging republican discourse of the seventeenth century. However, whereas republicanism focuses almost exclusively on the arbitrary powers of the monarchical state, the popular tradition emphasizes freedom from the arbitrary powers of landlordism. After a brief introduction to the republican conception of liberty and a discussion of the dependent peasantry in England, the work of Gerrard Winstanley is presented as an innovative synthesis of popular and republican discourses of freedom as independence from the arbitrary powers of exploitation.