Author Archives

Who Deserves Independence?

by Dr. Lydia Walker (Dartmouth College) Twentieth-century global decolonization changed the map. In the thirty years after the Second World War, sixty countries—mostly in Asia and Africa—became independent from colonial powers. During the high point of accelerated decolonization in 1960, the United Nations recognized seventeen independent states. At times it seemed that there was a new country every week. This narrative of progressive national liberation ignores two important implications. First, it overlooks the existence of people who claimed—yet did not receive—independence during this period of heightened possibility. Second, it elides the fact that international recognition required an external audience—sometimes the United Nations, or a former colonizer, or a great power backer—to determine which ‘people-territorial match’ was a nation deserving a state, or a minority requiring protections, or indeed, a group of humans needing rights. Recognition signifies seeing a people as a state, considering a people as a political unit that ‘deserves’ statehood, and therefore being willing to hear their claim in international politics. The unspoken presence of a silent, sometimes shifting entity that bestowed international recognition suggested that it was incumbent on the nationalist movement to demonstrate its legitimacy, and construed the granting of statehood as a moral rather than […]

Open Letter from History Journal Editors in Response to Consultation on Plan S

by the Past & Present editorial team We write as the editors of a number of academic journals in History and associated Humanities disciplines, based in the UK, continental Europe and North America, in collective response to the call for feedback about the proposals for the implementation of Science Europe’s Plan S. The overall aim of Plan S, to make publicly funded research freely accessible to all users, is a laudable one. As a group we are committed to the principle of Open Access (OA). We welcome initiatives that facilitate the dissemination of scholarship to the widest possible audience and that enable new developments in knowledge. We endorse the objective stated in the Guidance document of creating a culture that ensures that young scholars have opportunities to excel and advance their careers. A transparent, fair and efficient system of scholarly publishing that does not discriminate against researchers or institutions with no or limited ability to pay APCs is clearly in the interests of our discipline. We also share Plan S’s insistence on the need for robust and sustainable OA repositories that will preserve and curate scholarly publications for future generations. We are, however, concerned about some key aspects of Plan […]

CFP: Domestic production and work in poor British homes, c. 1650-1850

Received from Dr. Joseph Harley (University of Derby) Thursday 12th September 2019, University of Derby Keynote Speaker: Professor John Styles, University of Hertfordshire In recent decades the ‘home’ has come to the forefront of historical investigations. Domestic production and work, such as spinning and farming, has received some renewed attention as part of this, yet there remain gaps in the literature and issues that need addressing. Our most detailed understanding of the domestic sphere comes from studies of the middling sort and elite, and much less research has been conducted on the domestic activities of the poor, who (defined in their broadest sense) made up well over half of the contemporary population. There has been something of a growth in the study of the poorer sorts over the past decade, but more is still needed. For example, domestic work such as spinning and farming has been subject to historical study for long periods of time; however they are often considered almost in isolation of other activities, while other forms of production such as brewing and baking have not received quite the same attention. This is surprising considering that being involved in myriad activities was crucial for many to make ends […]

Past & Present Fellowship: Race, Ethnicity & Equality in History

by the Past & Present editorial team Between 2019 and 2021 the Past & Present Society is funding a two year postdoctoral position (to run 2019-2021) to support and continue the Royal History Society’s equalities work, with an especial focus on race and ethnicity. The Fellowship is a follow on from the publication in October 2018 of the Royal Historical Society’s research into the state of “Race, Ethnicity and Equality in UK History”. Upon their appointment-which will be held jointly at the Royal Historical Society and the Institute for Historical Research-the Fellow will spend fifty percent of their time engaged in: research, writing, engagement, organisational work and event management to advance the work of the RHS Race, Ethnicity & Equality Working Group (REEWG), and fifty percent engaged in: research, writing and seminar/conferences/workshop attendance to develop the Fellow’s academic career as a historian. Explaining why the Past & Present Society was funding this position, the journal’s Editors Prof. Matthew Hilton and Prof. Alexandra Walsham said: “The Past and Present Society acknowledges that race, ethnicity and equality present some of the most signficiant issues facing the  discipline of History today. We are delighted to support the RHS and this excellent initiative. It is of […]

Call for Papers: Bestsellers in the Pre-Industrial Age

Received from Dr Shanti Graheli (University of Glasgow) Bestsellers, TV series, spin-offs, fan fiction, are all deeply embedded in our perception of literary consumer culture today. Yet the notion of a bestseller with spin-offs is a very old one indeed. The consolidation of the printing press in the Renaissance led to the first major re-assessment of the book as an object of ‘mass’ consumption. Lower production costs, paired with a rise of literacy levels, brought more books to an ever-growing reading public. Printers and publishers devised marketing strategies to meet demand, such as serialisation and branding, the creation of abridgements and illustrated editions, spin-offs and games inspired by the most successful texts. Foreign and ancient texts were re-packaged in translation or alongside new commentaries. Bestsellers catered for all types of readers, or indeed users, with oral transmission playing an important part in the dissemination of texts. While individual aspects of this production cycle have been explored – from popular print to the concept of a literary sequel, marketing strategies and readers’ reactions – there has been no attempt to investigate bestsellers as a phenomenon in the round. This conference takes a holistic approach by combining approaches to the materiality of the […]

Introducing “The Global Middle Ages” Supplement

by the Past & Present editorial team The Global Middle Ages is the 2018 Past & Present Supplementary issue, edited by Dr. Catherine Holmes (Oxford) and Prof. Naomi Standen (Birmingham) Global history did not begin with the European voyages of discovery. It did not start in the nineteenth century with a great divergence between the West and China. It is not synonymous with a globalization narrative. If we are to realise the full potential of a global approach to history then we must extend our chronologies and geographies. Bringing together historians and archaeologists of Africa, the Americas and Eurasia, this Supplement focuses on the abundant evidence for behaviour and interaction on a global scale in the millennium before 1500. The contributors exploit impulses such as connectivity and comparison, but do not seek direct analogies and connections between the Middle Ages and the global history of other periods. Instead, the social interactions, expectations and demands of people around the globe are foregrounded in chapters which explore recording cultures, cosmologies, networks, mobilities, value, trust, political mediation, settlements and cultural transmission. From these foundations, the Global Middle Ages are presented as a period of dynamic change and experiment, characterised by multiple options and potential […]

Reflecting Upon “Beyond Truth: Fiction and (Dis)information in the Early Modern World”

by Emma Claussen, Tom Goodwin, Luca Zenobi (University of Oxford) On 18-19 September 2018, scholars from across Europe and North America met at New College, Oxford for the interdisciplinary conference, Beyond Truth: Fiction and (Dis)information in the Early Modern World. Our aim was to bring together scholars working in literary, historical, and art historical disciplines to discuss questions related to concepts of ‘truth’, ‘falsehood’ and ‘fiction’ in the early modern world, and thereby to stimulate interdisciplinary reflection on those themes. While the conference and its many papers were focused on the early modern period, the considerable contemporary resonances of issues relating to ‘fake news’ were also a major point of discussion. In addition to considering literary, historical, and art historical perspectives on fiction and (dis)information, it was thought critical to include a broad as possible geographical range of papers. This was in response both to a developing general interest in ‘the global’ in early modern studies, and because changing early modern conceptions of ‘the world’ were a cause of epistemic crises in this period, fundamentally reshaping notions of ‘truth’, ‘falsehood’, and ‘fiction’. Accordingly, our first keynote speaker was a specialist on European literature (Emily Butterworth, Reader in French at King’s […]