This spring we will be holding a series of Extended Director’s Seminars, with papers given by Junior Research Fellows from the Institute. These will be held on Tuesdays, 11am-1pm, on the following dates: 21 April, 28 April, 5 May, 12 May, and 26 May. The full programme is below.
These seminars are an integral element of the Junior Research Fellowships programme at the IHR. They provide our Fellows with the opportunity of presenting before, and discussing their work with, their peers. They also offer the audience the chance of listening to engaging research being undertaken by a new generation of scholars.
We do hope you will be able to attend some of these seminars, which are open to all.
Junior Research Fellows’ seminar series
All seminars will be held in Wolfson II, on the lower-ground floor of the IHR. Coffee and tea will be served.
Tues 21 April 11am – 1pm
Róisín Watson – Lutheran piety and visual culture in the Duchy of Württemberg, 1534–c.1700
Carolyn Twomey – Living Stone: Early Norman Baptismal Fonts of the Yorkshire East Riding
Tues 28 April 11am – 1pm
Courtney Campbell – ‘The 1954 Miss Universe Pageant, the City of Salvador, and the Tale of the Famous Two Inches’
Jordan Claridge – Managing Milk, Making a Living: Dairying and Dairypeople in Medieval England c.1250–1450
Caroline Nielsen – Disabled by the state: the pensioners of the Chest at Chatham and their communities, 1660–1807
Tues 5 May 11am – 1pm
David Baillargeon – Slaving on the “Imagined Frontier”: Britain, Burma, and the Political Economy of Empire, 1795–1900
Will Pooley – Magic and the Law in France in the Long 19th Century
Tues 12 May 11am – 1pm
Kate Imy – Spiritual soldiers: masculinity and the body in the British Indian army, 1900–1940
Joshua Bennett – Baron Bunsen as historian
Tues 26 May 11am – 1pm
Catherine Arnold – Objects of charity: Britain and the development of a humanitarian politics, 1680–1748
This post has been kindly written for us by Ian Stone, Isobel Thornley Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
I first saw the Curriers’ Company London history essay prize advertised about this time last year. To be considered essays have to be submitted to the IHR, who judge and administer the prize, and submissions can be on any aspect of London’s history. At that point I had submitted a junior research fellowship application to the IHR and was awaiting a reply. I was looking at various prizes offered by institutions as I had the germ of an essay in mind which I thought could be formed into something more concrete. I wanted to write about an essay about politics and identity in thirteenth-century London, focussing on the career of an alderman of the city, Arnold fitz Thedmar, the first layman in this country to write a historical account of his time. I did not expect to find something with so wide a remit and so generous a prize.
By the time I had written this essay up and submitted it I had been contacted by the IHR and awarded a fellowship. Being awarded a fellowship has given me the opportunity to really widen the scope of my doctoral research. Thanks to the IHR I am currently in the process of writing up a chapter which will add depth and context to my doctoral thesis; I have also rewritten substantial sections of my earlier work to take account of new research I have been able to undertake this year.
In addition to being awarded the fellowship, I was lucky enough to find out subsequently that I had won the inaugural Curriers’ Company prize. To win such a prize, when I knew that the judging panel had received so many good entries, was a wonderful surprise. The standard of entries was so high that several of the essays which were submitted were recommended for publication in the London Journal; I know that mine and at least one other has since been accepted for publication.
On Thursday 9 April 2015 the Curriers’ Company held a prize-giving ceremony at the Mansion House in London. The Lord Mayor of London presented the two prizes on the evening; the judging panel and staff from the IHR attended; and members and officers from the Worshipful Company of Curriers were there to celebrate with us all. The Mansion House is a beautiful venue and that the Lord Mayor of London was happy to host the event, and that so many people from the Curriers Company came, shows just how much support they have for young researchers working on the history of London.
Thanks to the opportunities offered by the IHR, I have been fortunate enough to be awarded a junior research fellowship, win the Curriers’ Company essay prize and have an essay accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. My advice to anyone who is thinking about applying for a fellowship or submitting an essay for the prize is to go for it. There are so many fantastic opportunities at the IHR and the Institute really does want to support early career researchers.
This post has kindly been written for us by Catherine Arnold, Mellon Dissertation Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
When does a state’s treatment of its subjects warrant foreign intervention? As we do today, men and women in early eighteenth-century Europe struggled to answer this question. Throughout this period the British government received formal and informal petitions for aid from religious minorities across Europe. And, in many cases, British officials responded. Between the 1690s and the 1710s, British diplomats negotiated international treaties that guaranteed rights—including liberty of conscience—for Protestants residing in Catholic states. From the mid-1710s, British ministers also instructed diplomats to petition European rulers for redress of the grievances of non-Protestant minorities or granted these groups asylum in Britain and its empire. By the 1740s, British diplomats had interceded on behalf of Jansenists in France and Jews in Portugal, Bohemia and Moravia. In my dissertation I seek to explain why this was so. Why did the British government begin to intervene on behalf of Catholic and Jewish communities—while also negotiating on behalf of Protestant minorities—between the 1690s and the 1740s?
In 1745, the British ministry responded to a transnational lobbying campaign and interceded with the Queen of Hungary, Maria Theresa, in an effort to halt the expulsion of Ashkenazi Jews from Bohemia. This print, titled “Exodus of the Jews from Prague, 1745,” and published in the same year, shows the Jewish community of Prague leaving the city. See: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12329-prague
To answer this question, I’ve chosen to examine the British government’s interventions on behalf of five minority communities during the early eighteenth century: Huguenots, or French Protestants, in France and on the Continent; Vaudois, or Reformed Protestants, in the duchy of Savoy, in northern Italy; Jansenists in France; and Jews in Portugal and in the territories of the Habsburg monarchy, Bohemia and Moravia, in the present-day Czech Republic. I argue that British politicians’ negotiations on behalf of Protestant and non-Protestant minorities between the 1690s and the 1740s were, in large part, the result of extra-governmental diplomacy and lobbying. Protestant and non-Protestant minorities coordinated transnational lobbying campaigns intended to convince European governments, like Britain’s, to maintain their privileges and protect them against repressive policies.
In making the case for intervention, lobbyists, propagandists, diplomats and politicians in Britain and on the Continent frequently characterized government interventions as charitable projects and justified them on moral grounds. Minorities were often referred to as “objects of charity” rather than as Lutherans, Calvinists, Catholics, or Jews. Although justifications for intervention predicated on “compassion to those poor People,” as one of the British Secretaries of State put it in 1745, had sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antecedents, my research suggests that, during the early eighteenth century, these justifications were invoked with greater regularity. What’s more, these arguments were used to justify the British government’s intercessions on behalf of non-Protestant minorities, including Jansenists and Jews.
Henri Arnaud (above) was a pastor of the Vaudois church. In 1699, when the Vaudois were forced to convert to Catholicism or leave the duchy of Savoy, Arnaud was deputized to lobby the English government for aid. See http://www.huguenot-museum-germany.com/huguenots/galleries/huguenot-portraits/a-b/arnaud-henri-1.php
How did these ‘objects of charity’ plead their cases to Britain, as well as to other European states? In my research so far, I’ve found that Protestant and non-Protestant minorities lobbied the British government by several routes. In some cases, a member of the community might be deputized to petition the British Secretary of State or a member of the royal family directly, either in writing or in person. In addition to this direct approach, communities arranged for influential British subjects to lobby on their behalf. To do so, deputies or other community members wrote to politicians, members of voluntary religious societies and members of early Enlightenment correspondence networks in Britain, asking them to plead their case to the British ministry. They also mobilized members of longstanding religious institutions across Europe—such as churches, consistories, and synagogues—to petition the British government in their favor. Communities even pressed other European governments to lobby Britain on their behalf. By convincing the British government’s constituents at home and its allies abroad to lobby on their behalf, while also conducting direct petitioning campaigns, minorities pressured the government to consider their appeals and intercede on their behalf.
As minorities mobilized acquaintances, fellow scholars, and co-religionists across Europe to lobby on their behalf, they also put pressure on European governments, like Britain’s, by publicizing their lobbying. When they lobbied the British government, members of these communities ensured that news of their appeals for aid—and, just as importantly, the ministry’s response to those appeals—circulated among European diplomats and politicians by presenting petitions to the Secretary of State in public audiences. At the same time, lobbyists often made these audiences known to a wider reading public, in Britain and in Europe, by selling printed copies of their formal petitions. News of minority grievances was also disseminated, at times, through sermons given by sympathetic clergymen or rabbis. And, not least, British and European newspapers, reported on the treatment of these communities and on their campaigns for aid, sometimes even printing letters that described minorities’ grievances or governments’ intercessions on their behalf. The public nature of these lobbying campaigns meant that the British government risked alienating sections of public opinion at home and abroad, as well as damaging its reputation at those European courts sympathetic to minorities’ grievances, by ignoring their petitions.
An example of a formal petition that also circulated in print. In 1712, as the British government began peace talks with France at the Congress of Utrecht, French Protestant “Refugees” in Britain asked the British ministry to insist that Louis XIV restore the Edict of Nantes, which had granted limited rights to French Protestants. Their petition and its accompanying memoranda (shown above) were printed and sold by French Protestant booksellers in London. Memoires, avec la garantie d’Angleterre, Presentez a son auguste Majesté la reine de la Grande Bretagne, par les François refugiez, pour obtent retablissement de l’edit de nantes. Londres, 1712. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. Yale University Library. 27 Apr. 2015
So why do these cases matter? My research suggests that, during the early eighteenth century, intercessions and lobbying constituted an increasingly differentiated sphere of international politics, one in which informal lobbying and private negotiating coexisted with, and gave direction to, governments’ formal diplomacy and policy-making on the issue of how to treat foreign minorities. On this issue, members of civil society and religious personnel from across Europe could influence British foreign policy and diplomacy through their lobbying. And, I believe, the same argument could be made for other European governments. I’ve found evidence that France, the Netherlands, the Evangelical Swiss Cantons, the Republic of Geneva, Prussia, Sweden, some German principalities, Portugal, Spain, and the Habsburg monarchy were involved in negotiations about minority communities in their own or in other states’ territories during the early eighteenth century. Over the next eight months, I will visit archives in Italy, Geneva, the Netherlands, and France to develop this argument further. At the moment, though, I argue that through these lobbying campaigns and state interventions questions of minorities’ civil and religious rights, repatriation, and asylum gradually became a part of early eighteenth-century international politics.
It’s been argued that the experience of the seventeenth-century confessional conflicts led to the emergence of the modern state system, founded on the principles of state sovereignty and nonintervention, during the late seventeenth century. My research indicates that although confessional military interventions ceased during this period – Protestant governments no longer formed leagues to defend their faith, for instance – states did continue to intervene in each other’s internal affairs. By the early eighteenth century, politicians in Britain and on the Continent had begun to undertake a type of diplomatic intervention, which was intended to protect minorities’ rights and justified on moral grounds. Transnational non-governmental organizations, including religious institutions, played a significant role in this transformation. Well before the so-called ‘humanitarian revolution’ of the later eighteenth century politicians, clergymen, and members of civil society across Europe debated whether foreign governments like Britain’s should aid repressed religious minorities in other states. By further exploring these interventions I hope to offer a new perspective on the development of modern international relations and elucidate the emergence of an international politics centered on humanitarian concerns.
This post has been written for us by Ralph Stevens, Jacobite Studies Trust Postdoctoral Fellow at the IHR, @HistoryRalph, firstname.lastname@example.org
This coming September will mark the three-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, the unsuccessful attempt to restore to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland the male, Catholic, ‘Jacobite’ line of the Stuart dynasty, deposed in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688-9. Though the imminent anniversary will no doubt prompt scholarly interest in the Rebellion, as a Jacobite Studies Trust Fellow at the IHR I have looked not at the military aspect of Jacobitism, but rather at a cultural – and more specifically literary – facet of the movement. My focus has been on the life and works of the Irish Protestant clergyman and ardent Jacobite Charles Leslie (1650-1722) and my aim is to use Leslie’s Jacobite propaganda as a lens through which to explore the relationships in this period between political, religious, and national identities.
Leslie’s prolific literary output – 81 publications from 1691 onwards, not counting 397 issues of his periodical The Rehearsal (1704-9) – represented one of the most significant ideological challenges to the establishment in the decades after 1688. Not for nothing would he be characterised by Bishop Gilbert Burnet of Salisbury as the ‘violentest Jacobite in the nation’. One of the very few Irish Protestants and fewer Church of Ireland clergy unwilling to at least acquiesce to regime change in 1688-91, Leslie forfeited his Irish offices – Chancellor of Connor Cathedral and Justice of the Peace for Co. Monaghan – for his refusal to swear allegiance to William and Mary or their successors. He settled in London and emerged during the 1690s as a leading Jacobite polemicist, evading arrest for his clandestine interventions in what many historians regard as an emerging ‘public sphere’, a conceptual space in which authors and actors appealed to the increasingly influential force of public opinion.
In Queen Anne’s reign Leslie’s at first weekly and later biweekly periodical The Rehearsal (1704-9) presented Tory ideology with a Jacobite edge, pricking the consciences of conservative gentry and clergy by reminding them of political and religious certainties bent or broken in the Revolution of 1688-9. Week by week Leslie engaged in polemical back-and-forth with Daniel Defoe’s Review and John Tutchin’s Observator, periodicals orientated towards the Whig party, written by Presbyterians, and presenting interpretations of the constitution in Church and State which radically differed from Leslie’s. The Rehearsal was, however, suppressed by the then Whig-dominated government in March 1708. Facing prosecution for his subversive journalism, Leslie fled in 1711 to the Jacobite court in exile at Paris. He would accompany the ‘Pretender’ James Francis Edward Stuart across Europe to Lorraine, Avignon, and Rome, but, aware of his declining health, in 1721 he obtained permission from George I’s government to return to Ireland, where he died the following year.
My research has concentrated on issues of identity displayed in Leslie’s prodigious printed works and suggests that his political identity as a Jacobite, someone loyal to the exiled Stuart dynasty, was intimately linked to his understanding of the proper relationships between England, Scotland, and Ireland. Leslie understood the link between the Three Kingdoms as not only the person of a shared monarch, but also a shared Protestant episcopalian church settlement, a group of churches governed by bishops. He displayed in his works an intense concern with Scottish affairs and particularly with harassed Scottish episcopalian Protestants, whose troubles he placed before the readers of the Rehearsal week after week. North of the border the Revolution of 1688-9 had been an avowedly Presbyterian one, not only effecting regime change in favour of William of Orange but also deposing the bishops and securing purely Calvinist government in the Scottish national church. Though he is not known to have ever visited there, Leslie’s references to Scottish affairs in fact far outnumbered references to Ireland, his place of birth, education, and early career, but it is not difficult to locate the source of this fascination.
Though born in Ireland, Leslie was in effect a second-generation Scottish immigrant. His father John Leslie (1571-1671), a native of Aberdeenshire, had been a leading clergymen in the early-seventeenth-century Scottish church, then episcopalian in structure, and had risen to become Bishop of the Isles. Bishop John had in 1633 been transferred by Charles I to the northern Irish diocese of Raphoe and there organised military resistance to first the 1641 Catholic Rebellion and then at the end of the decade the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Following the Restoration the elderly bishop had been rewarded for his loyalty to the Stuart dynasty by promotion to the more lucrative Ulster see of Clogher and established his family’s seat at Glaslough, Co. Monaghan. Charles Leslie, named by his father for the Stuart king ‘martyred’ the year before his birth, not only grew up in an atmosphere of fervent royalism, but partook in an ‘Ulster-Scots’ version of Irish identity, which was yet distinct in religious terms from that of the Presbyterian majority of the Scottish population settled in Ulster since the early seventeenth century. Leslie’s episcopalian Protestant identity, bound to notions of tradition, hierarchy and ceremony, transcended national borders and allowed him easily to assimilate an ‘Anglican Tory’ religious and political identity upon settling in England after the Revolution.
Leslie’s fascination with Scottish affairs suggests an explanation for his almost unique position among the clergy of the Church of Ireland, adhering to the Stuart dynasty in spite of the fact that in Ireland the brief reign of James II had been marked by a Catholic counter-revolution that threatened to overturn Protestant social and political ascendency. It seems that Leslie was a Jacobite, at the cost of his career and social standing in Ireland, as much from a desire to restore bishops to the Scottish church as from loyalty to the Stuart claimants to the throne. What differentiated Leslie from vast majority of Irish clergy, either actively supporting or acquiescing to regime change, was precisely his inherited ‘Scottishness’, for all that it was the Scottish identity of many other Ulster Protestants which made them some of William of Orange’s staunchest Irish supporters. Leslie’s intense concern for the state of the Scottish church highlights the often overlooked episcopalian strand within Ulster-Scots Protestantism, overshadowed in demographic and cultural terms by Presbyterianism, and suggests that Leslie should not be understood as an ‘Irish’ Jacobite so much as one whose identity and motivations were bound up with the politics and religion of all three Stuart kingdoms. Above all, his life and works illustrate the potential complexities of identity created by the interactions between England, Scotland, and Ireland in this period.
Indian troops during a physical training. Copyright IWM (Q52701)
This post has kindly been written for us by Kate Imy, Mellon Dissertation Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research.
Contemporary debates about “religion” often emphasize that which is supposedly “irrational,” metaphysical or anciently doctrinal, ignoring the intimate, ever-shifting, disciplined and resolutely global ways in which beliefs develop in certain places at certain times. In order to investigate these complexities, I examine the meanings and uses of the word “religion” within the British Indian Army—a resolutely cosmopolitan, multi-linguistic, interracial, multicultural and overwhelmingly “religious” force. This massive military establishment—which played a decisive role in most of the major armed conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century—is perhaps one of the most potent symbols of faded European empires. Despite being a paragon of disciplined, secular, and imperial rationality, the army used “religion” for everything from recruiting soldiers, to encouraging men to fight and die, to occupying “holy” lands. My project therefore attempts to see how the army used the concept of “religion” to assign value to certain bodily performances of masculinity at a definitive moment in late-colonial British and South Asian history. By focusing on the intimate encounters between British and South Asian men, and the ways in which soldiers and civilians made meaning of, represented and interpreted soldiers’ bodies, this project hopes to better understand the processes through which soldiers’ bodies—as both “religious” and “martial” beings—helped give birth to contemporary notions of masculinity and violence in the late and postcolonial world.
Memories and popular perceptions of the British Indian Army are often defined by imperial nostalgia or post-colonial regret. Both narratives hinge upon shifting concepts of masculinity and perceptions of British and South Asian bodies. For the former, the proud and glistening British and Indian men in impeccable dress, and the paternalistic relationship between British officers and Indian soldiers, was at once intimate and familial, while also laying important groundwork for India’s postcolonial army. The latter interpretation, however, focuses on the imbalances of colonial power and the restrictive theory of “Martial Races” which deemed some men worthy of becoming warriors, at the expense of those “emasculated” men who were not. This perspective locates service to the empire somewhere between slave-like servitude, necessitated by limited job prospects, or a mercenary labor force that begrudgingly sold its martial prowess to the highest bidder. My study falls within the purview of more recent interpretations which have moved beyond these powerful yet restrictive interpretations by focusing on the complex networks of ideas guiding attitudes toward spiritual beliefs, bodies and “selfhood” that made the British Indian Army a powerful international force until the Second World War.
During war and peace, “religious” concerns were central to the efficient functioning of the colonial army in India. British army officials recruited South Asian soldiers based on a matrix of region, caste, and religion, for instance praising Sikhism as having “martial value” because it discouraged so-called “caste prejudices” while celebrating martial strength and disciplined living. Meanwhile, British soldiers marched into church armed every Sunday to receive the divine wisdom from chaplains who encouraged them to live their lives free from sin—especially the debilitating and fiscally costly conditions of venereal disease and alcoholism. Fears of anti-colonial “sedition” among South Asian soldiers meant cultivating allies among “religious” leaders and appointing religious teachers to exert an educational, social and ceremonial influence among the men to prevent them from seeking wisdom and guidance from the outside world. During wartime, army officials played an active role in regulating soldiers’ bodies, shaping the performance of even pillars of Islam such as the fast of Ramzan (Ramadan) and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). Each of these bodily interventions played a crucial role in demarcating which types of bodies and beliefs were most conducive to military order and discipline, limiting financial and social opportunities to certain subjects of the British Empire.
One of the most widely debated aspects of daily life in the British Indian Army was the relationship between food and “religion.” While military officials hoped to build strong bodies and encouraged recruitment through the promise of stable rations, many officials condemned “the contagion of Hinduism” for impeding military discipline by making group messing more difficult. In the twentieth century, this was largely dictated by the limited and faulty memories and stories of the 1857 Uprising, which was widely regarded as stemming from improperly adhering to “Hindu” and Muslim dietary practices. However, arrangements for a diverse range of British and South Asian soldiers required considerable attention. Military officials strongly discouraged British soldiers from consuming numerous goods, including bazaar fruits and non-packaged drinking water, and often condemned and ridiculed them for contracting “preventable” maladies such as enteric fever and diarrhea. Similarly, many Muslim soldiers worried about finding food that was prepared “halal,” or carrying out the fast of Ramzan, while Gurkha soldiers’ food was often subject to considerable scrutiny including inspection of water tanks on ships and the use of exclusively Brahmin cooks. While military officials were willing and able to cater to such dietary needs of the “Martial Races,” they condemned the so-called “prejudices” of Indian Hindus. These dietary debates revealed the unstable boundaries between science, health, “religion,” custom and personal preference. They solidified the importance food in defining martial masculinity and the unequal application of what was “religious” and what was merely “rational.”
By placing British and South Asian bodies and beliefs in conversation with one another, my project hopes to create a more varied portrait of the relationship between belief, martial prowess, masculinity and violence in the making of the modern world. By looking at a disciplined and highly centralized military force and the ways in which “religion” shaped and was shaped by a diverse range of British and South Asian actors, my dissertation suggests that concepts of masculinity and the body were both global and local—spiritual and secular—and forever influenced by the uncertainties, opportunities, inequalities and instabilities of the imperial world.
Will Pooley is a Past & Present Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. He blogs at https://williamgpooley.wordpress.com and you can follow him on Twitter @willpooley.
I’m not the first person to point out that witchcraft exerted a fascination over doctors and physicians. Historians of early-modern Europe have long argued that separating the science from the supernatural in medical writings is impossible.
But France makes a bit of an odd case. The medical fascination with witchcraft had largely dissipated in other European countries by the nineteenth century, yet in France this period saw a boom in serious medical writings about possession, sorcery, and alternative healing practices. The interest may have waned as the twentieth century progressed, but French doctors have continued to occasionally publish investigations of magical practices and epidemics of ‘demonopathy’ up until very recently.
(One of the many medical theses written about ‘superstitions’ and witchcraft. See http://gallica.bnf.fr)
This raises two questions:
why this continuing interest?
why should historians care?
At this stage in my research, it is easier for me to answer the second question than the first, although I do have some working hypotheses for why not only doctors, but also psychologists and veterinary professionals in France took such a pronounced interest in sorcery.
For a start, there was a lot of it.
My research uses newspaper reports to trace criminal cases involving witchcraft from the 1790s to the 1930s, and even at this early stage it is apparent that crimes related to witchcraft were prosecuted with depressing regularity across this period. In the secondary literature alone I have identified 15 cases of people who were murdered for being witches in this period. There were many more cases of attempted murder or assault which were not reported so widely in the newspapers, not to mention a multitude of prosecutions for fraud and illegal medical practice. Sometimes, men and women sued their neighbours for defaming them as witches. What all of this suggests is that witchcraft beliefs, fears, and fantasies were surprisingly widespread in France during this period.
And perhaps this is partly related to the other key explanation for why doctors and scientists took such an interest in sorcery: the tumultuous religious history of France during this period. The struggle between the Catholic Church and secularists inspired by Voltaire and the French Revolution had two contradictory effects on French culture.
On the one hand, there was an apparent hardening of boundaries, especially during periods when regime changes abruptly shifted the balance of power between the scientific establishment and the Church. The struggle over Bernadette Soubirous’ visions at Lourdes would be just the most obvious example of a case where Church and Doctor faced off over an issue of national importance and supernatural significance.
(Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes. See: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Bernadette_Soubirous_en_1861_photo_Bernadou_4.jpg)
Yet on the other hand, I think a strong case could be made for seeing this as a period when a cultural vacuum opened up. The very intensity of the public conflict between scientific secularists and defenders of the Church led to a willingness, at least among some elements, to court public opinion, to take seriously the feelings and beliefs of ordinary people such as the visionary Bernadette, or the many people who flocked to witness the miracles of Lourdes.
Many within the Church might have felt that condemning the ‘superstitions’ of the population was a slippery slope. Priests, too, read Voltaire and they were only too aware that condemning a belief in the supernatural powers of black masses and ringing church bells could seem inconsistent with the claims the Church made for the supernatural efficacy of its key rites.
And scientists also had to court public opinion. What use were immunization or pasteurization if the people could not be persuaded that they worked? Promoting professional midwifery, or psychology, or veterinary medicine partly depended on proving to a population that was predominantly rural that these new methods and theories were more than simply a way to interfere, charge higher fees, and defraud the paysans.
(Léon-Augustin Lhermitte, ‘La paye des moissoneurs’. The rural population were not always known for their approachability… See: http://www.histoire-image.org/site/oeuvre/analyse.php?i=43)
This brings me on to my second question: why historians should care about all of this? It might be weird that French doctors were so interested in sorcery, and it is equally odd that witchcraft seems to have been so important to so many people among the general population, but why does it matter?
The answer, I argue, has to do with what a remarkable case study this odd convergence makes for ‘history from below’. I have been strongly influenced by historians such as Andy Wood, Guy Beiner, Katrina Navickas, David Hopkin, and by the Many-Headed-Monster blog symposium from last year on revisiting ‘history from below’ (see: http://bit.ly/17h9jmV).
These historians, I think, have developed incredibly subtle understandings of concepts such as ‘popular culture’, ‘social class’, and ‘resistance’. We recognize that such terms are always problematic, and we recognize how hard it can be to recover the ‘voices’ of the people history too often forgets, but we maintain that there is still value in trying (http://wp.me/p3QdQ9-2E).
And it seems to me that the point where medicine and witchcraft met in France is a particularly rich example for pursuing the kinds of complicated questions of cultural repression, resistance, and agency that the new history from below addresses. Yes, doctors and other scientific ‘experts’ attempted to impose their understandings of causality, the human body, and illness onto the general population. But ordinary people took these ideas and refashioned them to fit what was important to their lives, forcing the ‘experts’ to deal in the languages of possession and malevolence.
Far from being a simple case of ‘superstition’ swept away by reason, witchcraft and medicine in France during this period is a much more interesting story of accommodation and cultural negotiation, and one that puts working men and women into the spotlight as often as middle-class doctors and scientists.
What is more, this was not unique to medicine. As I have mentioned, the related disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, and veterinary science were also caught up in witchcraft debates. But sorcery also touched even wider domains. Victims and suspected witches related their experiences to new technologies and the ‘modern wonders’ that Bernard Rieger has studied, and addressed new theories of radiation, ions, and the laws of physics. They also argued about the law, challenging the basis for criminal and civil prosecutions, and provoking a series of legal theorists to address the problem of witchcraft in the same period.
This is why I have found that the more I study the witches and their accusers, the less drawn I am to the early-modern parallels that at first appear so obvious. Witchcraft was modern, and has a lot to tell historians about the agency and constraints of ordinary people grappling with new authorities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The 2014-15 cohort of Junior Research Fellows at the IHR will be holding a number of excellent colloquia and workshops in the coming months. These colloquia are a key element of the IHR Fellowships programme, and the institute provides Fellows with administrative and financial support in running them. The idea is that early career researchers get valuable experience in planning and hosting academic events, while the institute benefits from participating in engaging, diverse academic activity. Events held at the institute itself will be open to public registration.
This blog will feature details on upcoming colloquia over subsequent posts.
A one-day conference at the Institute of Historical Research
Friday 10 April 2015
Plenary Speaker: Dr Matt Houlebrook (Birmingham)
If nature abhors a vacuum, cultural attitudes to emptiness are more complex. Vacant places have been constructed and sustained by a variety of actors, from colonial powers to cartographers, city planners to scientists. This one day colloquium asks how and why empty spaces have been important to travelers, empires, anthropologists, artists, archivists, photographers, and the historians who study them. How is emptiness made? What tools, materials, and agents does it involve, and what cultural, physical, and natural work goes into maintaining nothingness? Have empty spaces been particularly important at specific points in history? What cross-cultural continuities are there in how they have been made and understood? How have historians perceived and created ‘gaps in the literature’? What ideological functions does emptiness serve?
The conference will explore ‘empty space’ in history.
Organized by: Courtney J. Campbell, Allegra Giovine, Jennifer Keating, and Will Pooley (IHR Junior Research Fellows)
UPCOMING JUNIOR RESEARCH FELLOWS’ COLLOQUIA
Read more about these in subsequent blog posts.
Gender in War Captivity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
A one-day symposium at the Institute of Historical Research
Friday 8 May 2015
Organised by Elodie Duché (IHR Junior Research Fellow) and Grace Huxford (Warwick) of the Prisoner of War Network in conjunction with Warwick Institute of Advanced Study and the Institute of Historical Research.
Image: Randolph Schwabe, The Women’s Land Army and German Prisoners, 1918, available at the Imperial War Museum.
The History of the Body: Approaches and Directions
A one-day colloquium at the Institute of Historical Research
Saturday 16 May 2015
Organized by: Kate Imy and Will Pooley (IHR Junior Research Fellows)
Religious Identities and Material Landscapes in Early Modern Europe
A one-day workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Friday, 5 June 2015
Organized by: Roisin Watson (IHR Junior Research Fellow)
Image: Prayer Book, c. 1623, V&A Images Image reference 2006BJ4433
Water in Anglo-Saxon England
A one-day colloquium at the Institute of Historical Research
October 2015 [date TBC]
Organized by: Carolyn Twomey (IHR Junior Research Fellow)
• Junior Research Fellow Ian Stone has been awarded the inaugural 2014 Curriers’ Company London History Essay Prize for his essay ‘Arnold fitz Thedmar: his place in London’. The prize is awarded in association with The London Journal and the Institute of Historical Research. In addition to a cash prize of £1000, the winning essay will be published in The London Journal.
• Junior Research Fellow Courtney Campbell has three upcoming presentations:
“‘Ela vale um time de futebol’: Gender, Victory, and Loss in Brazilian World Cup and Miss Universe Press Coverage (1954-1962),” American Historical Association, New York, 3 January 2015
“Sixty-One Days at Sea: Fishermen, their Rafts, and Regional Identity in the Brazilian Northeast,” Latin American History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 10 February 2015
A panel that Courtney proposed to the Latin American Studies Association has been accepted. Courtney will be travelling to Puerto Rico to present her paper on “The Making of A Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” within the panel:
“Before and After a Pedagogy of the Oppressed: From Cold War Politics to 21st-Century Social Action,” for the XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 2015
Courtney also recently presented the following:
“The Latin American Region as Internationally Embedded: The Case of the Brazilian Northeast (1926-1968),” Latin America in a Global Context Workshop, University of Bern, Switzerland, 4 December 2014
A book chapter co-written by Courtney Campbell will be coming out soon. The book launch will be at the British Library on February 27. The book is titled From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.
[Jane Landers, Pablo Gómez, José Polo Acuña, and Courtney J. Campbell. “Researching the History of Slavery in Colombia and Brazil through Ecclesiastical and Notarial Archives.” In Maja Kominko, Ed., From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme, Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2015.]
• Visiting Research Fellow Cheryl Fury presented a paper in Hamburg in November at the “Early Modern Military-Medical Complex” conference called “You Make No Men of Us but Beasts”: Shipboard Diet & Health in the Elizabethan Maritime Community”.
This post has kindly been written for us by Courtney J. Campbell, Past & Present Postdoctoral Fellow, @CJCampbell123, email@example.com
Saturnino de Brito Filho, Regiões Secas do Nordeste, 1936.
This year, Brazilians faced a difficult presidential election. Through a preliminary election in October, voters narrowed their choice to two candidates: sitting president Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party or Aécio Neves of the Social Democrat Party of Brazil. While both candidates were born in the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil’s Southeast, the election was widely discussed in terms of a different region: the Brazilian Northeast. After the preliminary vote, newspapers ran strongly worded editorials critical of the Northeast and its loyalty to the Workers’ Party. Tweeters and Facebookers followed suit, publishing disparaging comments about Northeasterners that referred to them as too ignorant and illiterate to understand who they should vote for or as lazy and simply wanting to remain on the welfare check supported by the Workers’ Party. In some cases, the insults even came in the form of racist comments, referring to the majority mixed-race population of the Northeast. In response, many Northeasterners defended their region on social media, highlighting its contributions to Brazilian literature and culture. A new hashtag gained fame on Twitter – #essesnordestinos – reflecting disparaging and even violent comments that began with the phrase ‘those northeasterners …’ and a Tumblr account was set up to gather negative comments found on social media about the Northeast. In the runoff election, Rousseff did carry the Northeast easily, with nearly 80% of the vote in several states, while Neves was more popular in the Southern and most Southeastern states (though this map is careful to show that in reality, all states are some shade of purple). This social media storm emphasizes the roles that the Brazilian Northeast plays within the nation. The Northeast serves as root of national culture, as scapegoat for the nation’s problems, and as foil to the ideal socially equal and developed Brazil that so many Brazilians hope to achieve.
What is surprising about this Northeastern regional identity is that it formed so quickly. In 1919, the term ‘Northeast’ came into use within governmental reports referring to the drought region. Before that, there were ‘North’ and ‘South’, but no ‘Northeast’. I study how this area originally defined by rainfall morphed into a cultural and social identity. I focus on how Brazilians discussed what it meant to belong to the Northeastern region in the mid-twentieth century and how this cultural identity was both influenced by and influenced the region’s relations with the world around it. I write about moments of intense international action that took place in the Northeast or that involved Northeasterners, including romantic relationships between Brazilian women and U.S. soldiers stationed in the Northeast during World War II, a campaign to bring a World Cup soccer match to the Northeast in 1950, and Miss Universe pageants in which Northeastern women competed in the 1950s and 1960s. My work emphasizes that for ideas about Northeastern culture and the definition of its borders to become popular ideas (popular enough to be readily presented and understood on Twitter and Tumblr) they had to be relevant to a variety of social groups. For this reason, I analyze popular art, including popular music, pamphlet poetry (called cordel), hand-made ceramics, and even liquor labels. I study these popular sources alongside more traditional historical sources, like intellectual manuscripts, film, letters, political agreements, and the press. By analyzing such a wide variety of sources, I explore how ideas about the region and its meaning circulated among social groups and across international lines. In this way, my work emphasizes that what being Northeastern meant was discussed across social classes, depended to a surprising degree on international attention and activity in the region, and came about as much through debate as through agreement.
‘Robert Kennedy in Brazil (Bob Kennedy no Brasil)’, image housed at the Museu da Imagem e do Som in São Paulo.
I currently hold a Past & Present Postdoctoral Fellowship at the IHR, allowing me to spend this academic year converting my doctoral thesis into a book manuscript. As part of this project, I am writing a section that shows that the discussion of Northeastern regional identity was not just words. This section examines President John F. Kennedy’s international aid project, The Alliance for Progress, in the Brazilian Northeast as well as Senator Robert Kennedy’s visit to the region in 1965. This section will establish that how the Northeast was discussed within the region also influenced how it was understood from without. On one hand, discussions about the Brazilian Northeast that circulated among social groups in previous decades influenced how U.S. policymakers viewed the region and imagined it at once as a staging ground for projects aimed at development and as a hotbed of communist agitation before and after the Cuban Revolution. On the other, how the Kennedy administration and later Robert Kennedy discussed the Northeast consolidated certain existing stereotypes on an international scale while excluding others.
I became interested in the Brazilian Northeast, its place within the nation, and its international interactions when I lived, worked, and studied there. I moved to Recife, Pernambuco in 2003 after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Paraguayan Chaco. I left Recife in 2008 to begin my Ph.D. studies at Vanderbilt University, but I have returned to Brazil every year since for research and for the Endangered Archives Programme project in Paraíba that I direct. With the support of an IIE Graduate Fellowship for International Study, I researched in archives throughout the Northeast, as well as in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as part of my doctoral research in 2012. I have also researched in archives in the United States and now, as a postdoctoral fellow, I study sources housed in British institutions. In this way, my research also reflects my own, ongoing relationship with the Brazilian Northeast as an international researcher investigating the region at times from within, at others from without. I hope, in this way, that my experience living, studying, and researching in Brazil serves as a contribution to the study of Brazilian history.
Courtney invites IHR blog readers to her Latin American History Seminar talk on 10 February 2014 about a 1941 labor protest by Northeastern fishermen and a movie that Orson Welles tried to make about it.
This post has kindly been written for us by Carolyn Twomey, who is currently a Mellon Dissertation Fellow at the IHR (Follow her on Twitter @Carolyngian)
Objects speak to us. The evocative WWI poppy memorial at the Tower of London and the Disobedient Objects exhibition at the V&A are excellent examples of the fascination we have with material objects and the power that ‘things’ bear on our modern constructions of past and present. Objects can overwhelm, soothe, and jar. From the flashing lights of a Leicester Square Saturday night, to the familiar feel of keys in a pocket; from the swipe of an iPhone, to the click of prayer beads; these things—this stuff—are expressions of our everyday lives and cultural consciousness. Part of the postmodern turn in the discipline, studies of materiality and physical spaces in history have the potential to reveal new aspects and attitudes of the lives of historical men and women, some of whom are absent from the usual texts of the historian.
My Ph.D. dissertation at Boston College focuses on the history and material culture of the sacrament of baptism in early medieval Britain. On my year-long Mellon Dissertation Fellowship at the IHR, I am interested in exploring how the ritual of baptism did and did not define a Christian in the post-Roman world: a world typified by diverse localized Christianities seen in both texts and objects. This autumn, I begin by exploring early medieval baptismal texts as objects in London, Oxford, and Cambridge. These eleventh-century pastoral handbooks saw a variety of hands-on use; for example, the Red Book of Darley (CCCC 422) is a particularly messy manuscript. Most likely used by a parish priest, the pages that contain the liturgical ordines for the blessing of the holy water of baptism are folded, torn, stitched, water-stained, and dark with oil from the hands of countless local baptizers. The text is not only an Anglo-Saxon copy of the baptismal ceremony in Latin and Old English, but also a portable object of the ritual that would have been carried, dropped, seen, and splashed during the public religious performance.
Medieval men and women also inscribed themselves onto their landscape. As historians, we can read these physical architectures and spaces left behind to draw conclusions about their political and cultural attitudes. The placement of churches near prehistoric barrows, reuse of Roman ruins, and adoption of new artistic motifs, are examples of early medieval acts of (re)negotiation through which historians explore how communities understood themselves and their place in the world. To that end, I will be driving—perilously on the wrong side of the road for this American—to sites of Anglo-Saxon and Norman stone baptismal fonts. I will continue research begun this past summer and examine them for their iconography, monumentality, and for what they can tell us about baptismal administration and local stone production at the close of the early medieval period.
One of the most unexpected and enjoyable aspects of my research so far has been my interaction with local parishioners and staff during my visits to baptismal sites. In the process of photographing and sketching East Yorkshire fonts with figural carvings, I’ve chatted with the local ladies of the parish over a mandatory cuppa before receiving the massive Victorian keys to the church doors. One vicar even provided me with a comprehensive tour of every stone in his medieval church as well as a cardboard box full of what local people had written about the font since the nineteenth century. Having these conversations not only gave me the chance to talk with wonderful people, but also reminded me that the history I am pursuing is profoundly rooted in the local community. These men and women are not just custodians of a museum, but active participants in the life of their church—people who had been baptized and had their children baptized in the very fonts I am studying. Their lives and names have been figuratively—and, at times, literally—carved into the church building. Many layers of identity have been mapped onto these objects and spaces during and after the Middle Ages; part of my job is to navigate these fascinating layers and uncover what they can tells us about medieval religious practice.
In the meantime, you’ll find me in the British Library, British Museum, and the IHR library, investigating the diverse medieval materialities of baptism while negotiating my own new academic environment through the modern objects and physical spaces of London.