Monthly Archives: February 2017

Publishing, “Refugees and the definition of Syria 1920-1939”

By Dr. Benjamin Thomas White The blog below is a cross-post from Benjamin’s personal blog Singular Things. In it he provides a personal reflection upon the processes that culminated in our publication of his article (currently available on advanced access, “out in print” in May) “Refugees and the definition of Syria, 1920-1939”. The wheels of academic writing turn slowly. It’s seven years since I first gave a talk at a workshop in Princeton outlining some ideas about how the arrival and settlement of refugees in Syria helped to define the modern state’s territory, institutions, and national identity. It’s six years since I developed them more fully in a seminar at the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford, which I entitled “Refugees and the definition of Syria, 1920-1939“. (The name stuck.) Over the next year or two I did some further archival research to test the ideas out, and was pleased to find that rather than contradicting my argument, this extra work allowed me to nuance and extend it. Meanwhile, just as I was learning more about Syria’s history as a destination for refugees in earlier generations, the civil war there broke out, and turned the country into the world’s largest producer of refugees. […]

New Year, New Look II

by Dr. Anna Bayman and Josh Allen, Past & Present Spring is coming and we are excited to have launched our new cover this month. The results of our revamp can be judged below: The new cover comes about after a very long time debating, and working through a great many different ideas. We wanted something which felt more up-to-date, but retained the P&P red and grey; and it was also designed to coordinate with our gorgeous supplement covers. Huge thanks to the OUP design team (who were immensely patient…!) they have come up with something we can be proud of. Past & Present has, after all, long been known for its distinctive and consistent visual design. As far back as 1983, shortly after we celebrated our thirtieth birthday, the eminent medievalist and Annales Director Jacques le Goff wrote that Past & Present was distinguished by: “…[having] kept the same, very pleasant, small format… the same presentation and the same typography.” So it was with all the best elements of this proud, formidable and distinctive tradition firmly in mind; that we approached refreshing the cover. We hope you like it. Pixels not quite enough for you? Print subscriptions, (UK price […]

Reinventing Stray Dogs?

by Dr. Chris Pearson, University of Liverpool In my recent Past & Present article “Stray Dogs and the Making of Modern Paris” I sought to show how public hygienists, veterinarians, policemen and municipal authorities tried to banish stray dogs from nineteenth-century Paris. Fearing their propensity to spread rabies and linking them to dirt, disorder and degeneration, the city’s authorities deployed police orders, poison and pounds to remove strays from the streets. Their depiction of stray dogs as mobile and unruly beasts on the streets positioned them alongside the city’s human “dangerous classes,” while anti-stray regulations and texts legitimated lethal violence against them. The slaughter of strays relied on the differentiation of dogs into safe/useful and dangerous/worthless. They became the antithesis of the pampered and clean pet dog who received care from their owners and the burgeoning veterinary profession. The varied campaigns against strays were one of the ways in which Parisians debated and asserted the modernity of their city. However, the condemnation of strays was never total as some animal protectionists sought to ameliorate conditions in the municipal pound and introduce more efficient and humane means of slaughter, whilst others established refuges to shelter strays from slaughter. Certain themes that […]

Swapping Viewpoints: Past & Presentism

by the Editorial team Last year Past & Present revived the journal’s “Viewpoint” feature, after it had fallen into abeyance for a few years, with a crackling debate about “human rights history”. Following on from that burst of intellectual fission, the journal is now pleased to present a new series of Viewpoints exploring the concept of “presentism”. In a series of short articles seven eminent scholars – whose work spans the breadth of human geographical and temporal experience – address the following points introduced by Professor Alexandra Walsham (one of our co-editors): “What place does ‘presentism’ have in modern historical scholarship? Can students of the past avoid seeing it through the prism of the present? Should our research be undertaken with an eye to its current relevance and with the aim of transforming the future?” Collectively, the viewpoints expressed in “Presentism” are best viewed as roundtable contributions. The Introduction and seven pieces together form a cumulative dialogue akin to a conversation. The full set of articles can be accessed in sequence below and are also grouped together on the website of our publisher Oxford University Press: *Prof. Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge), “Introduction: Past and… Presentism” *Prof. Robin Osborne (Cambridge), “Classical Presentism” […]

Researching “the Fear of Crime”

by Prof. Bob Shoemaker, University of Sheffield Despite the recent long-term decline in crime levels in most Western countries, crime is still an emotive issue. It seems that fears of crime are disconnected from the threats people actually experience. This disjunction has a long history, but it is a subject that proved challenging to examine in the research which led to my article, ‘Worrying about crime: Experience, moral panics, and public opinion in London, 1660-1800’. Owing to the explosion of printed literature which followed the expiration of press licensing in England in 1695, the eighteenth century witnessed major changes in the way people learned about crime, with potentially important repercussions. A significant portion of printed literature was about crime, and historians have argued that negative representations of the threats posed by violence and crime shaped public attitudes by promoting fear, which forced the government to adopt significant new measures such as improvements to the night watch, the expansion of capital statutes (the so-called ‘Bloody Code’), and the introduction of new punishments including transportation and a greater use of imprisonment. In particular, it is thought that waves of fear about crime occurred at specific times, such as the conclusions of wars […]