This is a guest post by Angie Goodwin, one of IHR Digital’s interns from the University of West Virginia.
How did the abolition movement in Brazil unfold? Who were the key players? And why did it take an incredible amount of time to rid Brazil of slavery? These questions are at the forefront of Dr. Bethell’s presentation. The core of the abolitionist movement encircled one man, Joaquim Nabuco. Bethell addresses the comparisons of Nabuco to Lincoln. Both men extremely beneficial to the cause of freeing enslaved persons, but their paths were much different. Dr. Bethell’s examination of Nabuco’s life offers insight about slavery in Brazil and the long road to freedom.
In the mid 19th century slavery was still in full swing in the United States, Brazil, Cuba and Puerto Rico. There were an estimated six million slaves within these areas. It was difficult to get a precise number due to the amount of illegal methods being used to smuggle slaves. Two issues come into play of why slavery lasted longer in the west, economics and racism. The main cash crops (cotton, coffee, and sugar) grown in these areas were labour intensive. Slave owners were willing to turn a profit by whatever means necessary. Brazil was unique in the fact that unlike the United States the economic factors were the driving force. Racism was a mute point as an overwhelming percentage of the population were those of colour or mixed identity. Several attempts were made by the Emperor Dom Pedro to take steps toward freeing the slaves. Each time the legislation was met with bitter resistance with no moral or social defence. Money was the only agreement made by the conservatives pointing out that without the manpower the economy would collapse.
Slavery in Brazil (wikipedia)
In an attempt to over ride parliament Dom Pedro created a new opening in government for a liberal candidate. In 1879 Nabuco was elected on the platform of religious freedom; he would soon shift his attention to abolitionist movements. He himself had been an enslaved person until the age of eight. He had always had a soft heart for those in the same condition, but did not pursue the abolitionist cause until much later in life. During his first term in office he submitted a modest bill (1880) that would allow for freedom with compensation to slave owners. It fell through. Nabuco had very little public support and felt it would be better to gain global opinion before trying to submit a new bill. His travels abroad helped to cement his passion to crusade those affected by slavery. He spent a significant amount of time in Europe especially in Great Britain. Nabuco worked with the political elite using their insight and experience to devise a new plan of attack. Nabuco’s intense expedition would come full circle only after several more attempts were made to move towards an agreement. Finality on the matter came in May 1888, the Lei Aurea (Golden Law) was signed and the slaves in Brazil were free. Nabuco continued working to secure rights for the newly freed people. He would find more resistance as most of the abolitionist groups had given up the cause once the slaves were free.
This is a guest post by Charlotte De Val, one of IHR Digital’s interns from the University of Leicester.
Items belonging to General Tom Thumb from the V&A collection (wikipedia)
The Wellcome Library, situated London, is one of the world’s major resources for the study of medical history. In this seminar Ross MacFarlane (Wellcome Trust) explores the nineteenth-century posters and hand bills advertising ‘freak shows’ in the ephemera collection. These advertisements are used to explore the representation of performers, the relationship they had with their ‘masters’, performer agency and disability terminology. The Wellcome Library has a particularly interesting context for these ‘freak shows’; while many collections, such as the V&A theatre archive, contextualise them under performance theatre, the Wellcome Library provides a fascinating medical approach.
Under this medical context, MacFarlane discusses nineteenth-century terminology (‘freak of nature’ etc.) and the modern descriptor ‘disabled’. In the 1980s, scholars re-assessed the phrase ‘freak of nature’; the social construction of the word ‘freak’ inherently considers the performers un-natural and therefore, they concluded, they are in fact ‘freak(s) of culture’. As for the term ‘disabled’ (first used in reference to war victims), MacFarlane urges consideration in its application to ‘freak show’ performers, since some traits are not necessarily considered to be a disability and it has some problematic modern connotations. Such an approach to terminology came with the revision of the assumed victim/agent binary; while MacFarlane stresses that we must not wholly accept the ‘rosier’ picture revisionist history paints, he does provide evidence to complicate the assumed exploitation. Within the wider historiography, MacFarlane picks up his discussion with Richard Altick’s study, The Shows of London (1978), which identified the nineteenth-century shift in ‘freak shows’ from open-air shows in seasonal fairs to permanent urban establishments.
Phineas Taylor Barnum & Charles Sherwood Stratton (General Tom Thumb) c. 1850 (wikipedia)
MacFarlane deliberately uses lesser-known performers and materials that have not yet been digitised to avoid familiarity. Amongst many small examples from the collection, the first performer discussed in depth is General Tom Thumb (bornCharles Sherwood Stratton), who, having not grown since he was six months old, was signed by P.T. Barnum at the age of four. Analysing their performer/master relationship, MacFarlane addresses the problematic narrative presented in Barnum’s autobiography. Tom Thumb’s courtship and wedding with fellow performer Lavinia Warren is also given significant attention, as is the role of photography in the industry which juxtaposed normative images with extraordinary bodies.
Herr Winkelmeier, an Austrian ‘giant’, is MacFarlane’s second example. Giants were considered particularly exotic, which is evident in the use of foreign national dress, flags etc in advertisements. MacFarlane also discusses the contrasting careers of giants and midgets; while a giant’s height was the main attraction, midgets were taught to sing, dance and display other talents. Herr Winkelmeier advertisements also display the equal standing with other forms of entertainment, having appeared on a poster with comedian Harry Randall.
Finally, MacFarlane discusses conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. The Hilton Sisters, famed as the first surviving UK-born conjoined twins, gained considerable medical interest and therefore particularly appropriate within the context of the Wellcome Library. Furthermore, MacFarlane highlights the public interest in the sexuality and domesticity of conjoined twins; popular accounts of the Hilton Sisters (and other conjoined twins) often contained commentary on their sex lives.
In conclusion, MacFarlane returns to the transformation of ‘freak shows’ from outdoor entertainment to a respectable, permanent industry even appearing in films. By exploring advertisement methods, the proximity to other forms of entertainment and medical interest in the industry, MacFarlane aims to widen the discussion of issues that apply to ‘freak shows’ generally.
This is a guest post by Charlotte De Val, one of IHR Digital’s interns from the University of Leicester.
By the early twentieth-century, single women dominated the British missionary enterprise in India. In a seminar from December 2012, Andrea Pass discusses her paper on the pressures, physical hardship and mental difficulties experienced by single women of the two leading Anglican missionary societies – the evangelical Church Mission Society (CMS) and the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) – in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Pass focuses on three key issues: the impact of pressure from work on the health of single women missionaries; the difficulties with relationships with colleagues and others; and the difficulties experienced due to challenges to their vocation. The reality of their educational, medical and evangelical service is at the heart of the seminar as Pass emphasises the extreme conditions and expectations of self-sacrifice in the missionary field.
The paper is based on the archives of the SPG in Oxford, the archives of the CMS at the University of Birmingham and the archives of St. Steven’s community in Delhi. A key problem with these sources is accessing women’s opinions on personal issues such as health and happiness. Though the most controversial content was either censored or never collected in official society reports, some controversial issues were recorded but not publicised, and some personal letters are also found in the archives. These personal letters are the most prominent material in the paper, and Pass uses them in conjunction with the official society papers to compare experiences and expectations.
Firstly, Pass explores the impact of illness on missionary work, and the frequency with which female missionaries suffered from nervous breakdown and exhaustion. At the centre of this discussion are the intertwined notions of physical and spiritual fitness. The title quote for this seminar is given as an example; the ‘slough’ in the pilgrim’s progress is reference to the ‘deep bog in which Christians sink due to the weight of sin and guilt’. Pass provides examples to show how physical illness could lead to feelings of spiritual inadequacy and, in reverse, feelings of spiritual inadequacy could lead to physical illness.
Miss Sigoruney Trask one of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1869-1895 (wikipedia)
The subject of relationship difficulties is divided between disputes and friendships. The vast majority of disputes on missions occurred between female colleagues and often were the result of generational tensions. The difficulties caused by friendships, however, are more complex. Pass discusses the exclusivity of friendships and the problems for newcomers as well as the more controversial friendships between missionaries and ‘outsiders’. Pass includes a detailed example of a missionary’s friendship with a Roman Catholic, Lady Alexandra Haley, to explore the issues these friendships could cause. Aside from the belief that it removed women from their missionary work, Pass introduces the medical and psychological discussion of ‘sexual starvation’ and ‘obsessive’ friendships; by the 1920s, she identifies, contemporary psychological vocabulary on ‘sexual starvation’ had percolated into missionary debate.
Finally, Pass discusses the challenges to the vocation of single women missionaries. Most prominent is the conflict of the missionary ‘calling’ with some other better fulfilment of their professional capabilities and familial responsibility – for example, marriage. Pass identifies the problems with conflicting ‘callings’ in the administrative defects of SPG and CMS and contemporary criticisms of the society for failing to address personal crisis. Personal conflicts between members of the societies’ staff are also discussed, as are the theological differences between SPG and CMS and the impact this had on the physical and mental wellbeing of single-women missionaries.
In conclusion, Pass emphasises the gruelling reality of the field which tested the missionaries’ declaration of purpose. In her final remarks, however, Pass is adamant that the negatives of women missionaries’ experiences should not be over-stressed; the majority of women chose to ‘soldier on’ in the faith that ‘out of despair came hope, out of darkness came light.’
Yesterday I uploaded the last podcasts from the 2012-13 session. I’ll admit as soon as the last file went up I left the office in search of a much needed caffeine boost! You might have noticed, but the last few days have been very busy with lots of podcasts appearing on the site all at once. I’ve uploaded files from various conferences including this year’s Anglo-American on the topic of Food in History; the Materialities of Urban Life in Early Modern Europe interdisciplinary conference which looked into debates regarding the public, private, commercial, domestic and civic material cultures. Then finally podcasts from the Mobilising London’s housing histories: the provision of homes since 1850 conference (click on the links to access these podcasts). Lots of conferences, lots of seminars, a great swath of new content!
We now have 590 podcasts in total on History SPOT. That’s no small number and has been achieved over a four year period, most of which have been created over the last year. Of these the majority come from the IHR’s seminar programmes (now numbering 26 groups who have given podcasting a go!) and from 20 different conferences held by the IHR. History SPOT is also home to a smattering of lectures, workshops and interviews all recorded as audio or video.
Below is a long list – or index – of all the podcasts that have been created this year. Hopefully there will be something for everybody. Personally one of my favourites was this year’s policy forum from the Anglo-American conference (see the third from top). Some of the audio is a bit wonky as there was only one microphone but five speakers, yet the topic of discussion was highly interesting. The title is perhaps misleading. This ‘forum’ was all about the food industry in the present and how it will cope in the future with a rising population, threats of global warming, and (seemingly) no one prepared to deal head-on with the major issues facing us in terms of food production. It was all a bit scary really. As a result I might start looking into getting an allotment for when the world ends.
This year I would also like to welcome the following seminars to History SPOT: Christian Missions in Global History; Disability History seminar; Gender and History in the Americas; Imperial and World History; London Group of Historical Geographers; Marxism in Culture; Modern French History; Modern German History; Oral History; Public History; and the Socialist History seminar. Lots of groups have given podcasting a go this year. As per usual we have also had podcasts from our staples including the Voluntary Action History seminar; Metropolitan History seminar; Digital History; British History in the Long Eighteenth Century; Latin American; and Archives & Society.
Index to all podcasts from the 2012-13 academic year(most recent at the top)
Frank Trentmann (Birkbeck/Institute of Sustainable consumption, University of Manchester); David Barling (Centre for Food Policy, City University); Annabel Allott (Soil Association); Keir Waddington (University of Cardiff); Craig Sams (Green & Blacks)
This is a guest post by Charlotte De Val, one of IHR Digital’s interns from the University of Leicester.
As many as 15 million people crossed the borders that were created in the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. Aside from the major political impact this had nationally and world-wide, the partition transformed families physically and emotionally. In February 2013, Anindya Raychauduri delivered a lecture on the separation of families and the agency of mourning in partition narratives. Following current historiographical trends, the project is interdisciplinary; oral history narratives, literature and cinema are studied together to identify the lasting impact of familial trauma and the areas in which it is most pronounced.
migration into Pakistan (1947) (wikipedia)
From the total eighty-five interviews conducted by February 2013, five are used in the lecture, and these are used to discuss various issues, including the representation of partition through the disintegration of the family. Familial decline and the disintegration of the stable family-based community it also explored; Raychauduri discusses this with particular reference to the famous partition short-story – Toba Tek Singh – which, published in 1955, follows Lahore asylum inmates through their transfer to India, and the 1973 film Garma Hava (Scorching Wind).
The use of literature and cinema is particularly useful in the discussion of public discourse, where the family is used as a metaphor to depict the trauma of partition. Raychauduri observes that the memories of individual family members in the oral narratives were female; the issue of gender is central to the memory of partition, where the ‘lone woman’ was an iconic symbol of suffering. Women were disproportionately affected by partition, and over 75,000 women were abducted, raped and/or forced to covert religion. While recognising this disproportion, Raychauduri confronts the problems with appropriating women’s trauma to reflect the wider trauma of partition; the discourse appropriates women’s victimhood to represent the entire nation which reduces women to symbolic victims, and thus robs them of agency.
Finally, Raychauduri addresses agency and mourning using the films Garm Hava and Khamosh Pani to expose the tropes of female victimhood. The value of an interdisciplinary approach is particularly evident in the discussion of the politics of subtitling, where female agency is particularly manipulated and mis-represented. Raychauduri concludes that women must be viewed not just as victims, but as active agents who often found ways of exerting agency even when they were often alienated. With respect to his approach, Raychauduri asserts that the strength of history is in its ‘multi-layered interpretation’; the collective use of cinematic and literary sources with oral narratives can provide insights into the individual, collective and national trauma of the 1947 partition, while exposing problematic representations and appropriations.
This is a guest post by Angie Goodwin, one of IHR Digital’s interns from the West Virginia University.
Dr Manuel Llorca (University of Chile) presents his findings on a rare subject of history; the relationship between the Mapuche of Chile and British sailors. The lecture is based on a series of governmental documents and maritime logs, letters and diaries. Llorca’s intent is to give an explanation about the evolution and importance of the Mapuche and European relations. The lecture presented gives a wider audience for study and further understanding of the inhabitants of the area.
The Mapchue natives are hypothesized to belong to the Arawak Indians from the Amazon region that migrated throughout South America and the Caribbean Islands. The Spanish were the first Europeans to surmount the region; they easily dominated most native tribes that stood in their path of conquest. The Mapuche proved to be more of a challenge than some of the other tribes. Their extensive knowledge of the diverse terrain proved to be their greatest assets. The Spanish and Mapuche attempted several treaties over the three hundred years of fighting. All treaties were to no avail until 1810 and the long awaited Chilean Independence. The Mapchue’s ordeal with the Spanish made them to be cautious and even aggressive toward any outsider entering tribal territory.
The Mapchue found a commonality with one group of Europeans, the British. They both needed the Spanish out of the way for political and economic reasons. From this common ground they built a working relationship. The southern outpost of Concepcion was a port of call for many seafaring men. Those who would founder on a reef or be over thrown by the vicious weather of the South Seas would find themselves beyond rescue. The men would fall to the elements, starvation or at the hands of the natives. After Chile received its independence the demeanor of the Mapuche began to slowly shift from hostile to amiable. The British population grew and in 1823 the first consular was appointed in the city of Concepcion. In order to maintain this bridge of unity between the British and Mapchue a trade system was established. For all stranded sailors returned the Mapuche received goods from the British. Because of the assistance of the Mapchue the survival rate climbed for those shipwrecked and stranded.
Day two of the 82nd Anglo-American conference of Historians continued the wide-ranging discussion of food throughout history. From the second day we recorded two plenary talks and a lunch time policy forum. These are now available as podcasts on History SPOT.
Day one of the 82nd Anglo-American conference of Historians is now over and has already produced a lot of debate and discussion. The topic this year is food in history and we have two plenary sessions for you as podcasts. These are fascinating talks by two scholars uniquely qualified to talk on the subject.
First up was Ken Albala (University of the Pacific). His talk was a proposal for a unified theory of culinary evolution for the past 2,500 years. At the beginning of his talk he noted that he would be attempting to explain why there appears to be a recurring osculation between two fundamentally opposed aesthetics to food; periods focused on elite cooking verses periods focused on simple rustic fair.
The second plenary produced today as a podcast was by Steven Shapin (Harvard). Shapin talks about the saying ‘you are what you eat’ and how understanding of what this means has not only existed throughout time, but has radically changed as well. As someone in the audience said at the end, today it’s not always what you eat that shapes who you are, but what you don’t eat. Never in the past has this been the case.
To listen to these podcasts click on the link below:
In addition, I attended Steven Shapin’s talk yesterday afternoon. Below is a link to the Tweets that I and others in the audience put up during the session. It gives a good bullet point list of Shapin’s arguments.
The 82nd Anglo-American conference of historians starts today. This is a busy time for the IHR, the culmination of all of this year’s events rolled into a three day conference. This year the topic is food and I therefore feel that it right that I should be writing this blog post with a bag of crisps by my side. There are a few constants in human history and eating is one of them. This conference looks at food in terms of famine and feast, riots, cookery books and programmes, diets, religion, politics, and much more besides.
If you are unable to attend this conference but are interested in it, then the IHR can offer you various online resources, which are listed below.
Abstract: Using electricity in railway operation became a real option towards the end of the nineteenth century. Cities were, generally, the main recipients and instigators of its introduction as the new technology was to help alleviate the often insufficient provision of means of urban transport. A clear contrast would emerge between London and Paris in terms of how the new technology was introduced around this time. In Paris, electric traction was a structural part of the conception and construction of the Métropolitain. To a large extent the city railway network was the result of the possibilities the new technology provided. In London, the introduction of electricity was also a matter of whether and how to transfer from one technology to another as the steam-operated lines of the Metropolitan and District had been open to passenger services since the 1860s. By the 1890s, when the City and South London (later part of the Northern Line) began operating the first section of its line, electric traction demonstrated the possibilities but also the difficulties inherent in the adoption of the new technology. The transformation was gradual, irregular, and subject to conditions which obstructed rather than facilitated the design of a system such as the one built in Paris. The introduction of electric traction in the operation of city railways was largely the result of the political and business cultures inherent in two different contexts: whereas competition and the business interests seemed to predominate in London, the definition of the public interest would become the most significant condition prior to the execution of any plan in Paris.
Biography: Carlos is an architect and historian with experience conducting academic and applied research in urban and rural sustainable planning, comparative metropolitan history and the sociology of everyday life. His DPhil thesis (University of London, 2009) looked at the transformation of London and Paris between c.1830 and 1910 through the lens of the Underground and the Métro. The monograph Cities, Railways, Modernities: London, Paris and the Nineteenth Century (in preparation) draws partly on this and expands on the issues around traffic congestion and liberal governmentality. He is Adjunct Lecturer at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, Dartmouth College and the University of Southern California.