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Past & Present
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.392
Citation Impact (citeScore): 1
Number of Followers: 208  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0031-2746 - ISSN (Online) 1477-464X
Published by Oxford University Press Homepage  [411 journals]
  • The Legality of Prisoner of War Labour In England, 1648–1655*
    • Authors: Tycko S.
      Pages: 35 - 68
      Abstract: AbstractPrisoners of war formed a legally distinct category amongst the many thousands of people forcibly employed in England and the English American colonies in the mid‐seventeenth century, but they have yet to be studied as such. Focusing on 1648 to 1655, this article explains how a succession of English governments sent their war captives into servitude with private masters despite the prohibition of hard labour for Christian prisoners in the customary laws of war. They instead operated under the logic of the English poor law, in which the indigent could meaningfully consent to serve a master even while under duress. The case of Scottish and Dutch prisoners of war in the Bedford Level fen drainage project shows how the Council of State and the drainage company board members conceptualized common prisoners as willing workmen. Prisoners, ambassadors, and a variety of English observers instead thought that war captives should not have to work for their subsistence or their captors' profit. Nevertheless, common prisoners continued to labour under the aegis of free contracts into the eighteenth century.
      PubDate: Fri, 03 Jan 2020 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz031
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2020)
  • Slave Hounds and Abolition in the Americas*
    • Authors: Parry T; Yingling C.
      Pages: 69 - 108
      Abstract: AbstractThe lash and shackles remain two primary symbols of material degradation fixed in the historical memory of slavery in the Americas. Yet as recounted by states, abolitionists, travellers, and most importantly slaves themselves, perhaps the most terrifying and effective tool for disciplining black bodies and dominating their space was the dog. This article draws upon archival research and the published materials of former slaves, novelists, slave owners, abolitionists, Atlantic travelers, and police reports to link the systems of slave hunting in Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and the US South throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Slave hounds were skillfully honed biopower predicated upon scenting, hearing, sighting, outrunning, outlasting, signaling, attacking, and sometimes terminating, black runaways. These animals permeated slave societies throughout the Americas and bolstered European ambitions for colonial expansion, indigenous extirpation, economic extraction, and social domination in slave societies. as dogs were bred to track and hunt enslaved runaways, slave communities utilized resources from the natural environment to obfuscate the animal's heightened senses, which produced successful escapes on multiple occasions. This insistence of slaves' humanity, and the intensity of dog attacks against black resistance in the Caribbean and US South, both served as proof of slavery's inhumanity to abolitionists. Examining racialized canine attacks also contextualizes representations of anti-blackness and interspecies ideas of race. An Atlantic network of breeding, training and sales facilitated the use of slave hounds in each major American slave society to subdue human property, actualize legal categories of subjugation, and build efficient economic and state regimes. This integral process is often overlooked in histories of slavery, the African Diaspora, and colonialism. By violently enforcing slavery’s regimes of racism and profit, exposing the humanity of the enslaved and depravity of enslavers, and enraging transnational abolitionists, hounds were central to the rise and fall of slavery in the Americas.
      PubDate: Tue, 04 Feb 2020 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz020
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2020)
  • The Medium is the Message: The Screen Life of the Cuban Revolution,
    • Authors: Lambe J.
      Pages: 227 - 267
      Abstract: AbstractFor decades, the iconic image of the Cuban Revolution has been set in Havana's ‘Revolution Square’, with thousands of Cubans thronging to hear Fidel Castro speak. This portrait undergirds a primary assumption about the Revolution: that many Cubans came to embrace it by basking in the euphoria of Fidel's live presence. For the Revolution's crucial early years, this article proposes that we should reimagine this archetypal conversion experience, setting it not only under Cuba's hot sun in an hours-long rally but also in front of a television (or radio) set. From 1959 to 1962 and beyond, the interactive drama of revolutionary conversion would be constantly staged and actualized on the small screen. The early years of the Cuban Revolution thus offer a compelling window onto political life lived with and through television.
      PubDate: Tue, 04 Feb 2020 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz034
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2020)
  • ‘Bliss was it in that Dawn’ … or was it'
    • Authors: Maier C.
      Pages: 307 - 316
      Abstract: Paul Betts rightly observes that 1989 ‘isn’t what it used to be’.11 His recent essay ‘1989 at Thirty’ captures the melancholy many observers feel as they recall what once seemed the exhilarating developments that saw the communist regimes in eastern Europe collapse at the end of the 1980s, epitomized in the media by the opening of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. Betts’s analysis seeks out the roots of populist nationalism in the national energies that surfaced in and after 1989. He writes that ‘construing recent developments in central Europe as simply an anti-1989 backlash does not get us very far, not least because the unrest of 1989 carried within it the seeds of illiberalism as well’.22 Well, it certainly carried within it the seeds of the neo-liberalism advancing in both West and East in the 1980s and 1990s, and Betts acknowledges how that development has been documented by Philipp Ther’s recent book Europe since 1989.33 But he further asserts that the current nationalism and populism is more than a revolt against the intervening neo-liberalism. With our ever-growing chronological distance, we can now perceive that potentially xenophobic tendencies tainted the transformations of 1989 from the outset.
      PubDate: Tue, 04 Feb 2020 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz070
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2020)
  • The Path to Pistoia: Urban Hygiene Before the Black Death*
    • Authors: Geltner G.
      Pages: 3 - 33
      Abstract: AbstractWhen the Black Death struck Western Europe in late 1347, city dwellers across the region were already practising public health, in part by building, maintaining and monitoring infrastructures whose prophylactic value emerged from the experience of intensified urbanization. The demands of a new urban metabolism, evident from the twelfth century, prompted numerous cities, including Pistoia, to develop preventative health programmes in anticipation of and in response to diverse threats. The latter certainly included famine, floods, pestilence and war, but Pistoians and others were no less concerned by routine matters such as burials, food quality, travel and work safety, artisanal pollution and domestic waste disposal. All of these were recognized as impacting people’s health, based on the medical and natural-philosophical theories prevalent at the time, and their management took into consideration not only climactic conditions and multi-species behaviour, but also the smooth functioning of sites such as wells, canals, bridges and roads. The political value that municipalities and other stakeholders began to place on the upkeep of these sites exceeded their economic function and thus questions the seminal role that scholars tend to attribute to the second plague pandemic in public health history. It also demonstrates how a key aspect of Euro-American modernity continues to shape interpretations of urban and health histories and suggests a broader path for historicizing community prophylactics.
      PubDate: Thu, 03 Oct 2019 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz028
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2019)
  • Paternal Rights, Child Welfare and the Law in Nineteenth-Century Britain
           and Ireland*
    • Authors: Griffin B.
      Pages: 109 - 147
      Abstract: AbstractThis article problematizes the persistence of sexual inequality in Britain, by examining the intellectual work performed by judges as they sought to preserve men's paternal rights from new challenges in the nineteenth century. One set of challenges included changing understandings of childhood and male domestic authority, another derived from the peculiarities of British state formation. The article argues that the gender order was repeatedly unsettled by two processes of state formation: first, the efforts of reformers to rationalize the multiplicity of jurisdictions that characterized the ancien régime; second, the process of bringing within one polity the separate bodies of law found in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Judicial efforts to reconfigure paternal rights in the face of these challenges produced a more severely patriarchal model of paternal rights than had existed before, but this proved short-lived. At the end of the nineteenth century, conflicts within the legal elite unravelled this patriarchal settlement in favour of a new model, which endured until the 1970s. This body of law was still profoundly inegalitarian, but used a more expansive definition of child welfare to place new limits on paternal power. Exploring this story reveals the extent to which the fragmentation of the juridical state created a double standard between rich and poor, with the rights of rich fathers enjoying much greater legal protection than those of the poor. The article argues that we should not see the law as a stable patriarchal monolith but as a gendered system that was continuously being reconstructed at the point of use by actors with considerable freedom of manoeuvre. Any history of the law must therefore also be a history of judicial mentalities.
      PubDate: Tue, 17 Sep 2019 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz026
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2019)
  • Letters of the Labouring Poor: The Art of Letter Writing in Colonial
    • Authors: Kumar A.
      Pages: 149 - 190
      Abstract: AbstractThis article examines the emergence of mass letter-writing in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century colonial north India, a region marked by the growth of an unprecedented labour mobility, postal expansion, vernacular print, and workers' literacy. It narrates how workers' and their family members' abilities and failures to read and write letters shaped their experiences of the emerging transnational labour mobility and explains how the letter-writing by the subaltern produced new sociabilities and anxieties that both colonial and indigenous elites feared and attempted to discipline and control through letter-writing manuals. It argues that the letter-writing culture in India did not merely sustain new mobilities but also produced a dominant social world which ensured that the hierarchies of caste, gender, and class were clearly mapped onto the domain of letter-writing. Hitherto unexplored (Hindi) letter-writing manuals and educational, postal, and labour records are used to challenge the rigidities of labour, communication, and literary histories of modern South Asia where the illiteracy of the labouring poor is an assumed fact.
      PubDate: Fri, 27 Dec 2019 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz035
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2019)
  • Terrorism and Ressentiment in Revolutionary Russia*
    • Authors: Morrissey S.
      Pages: 191 - 226
      Abstract: AbstractDuring the late nineteenth century, revolutionary terrorism emerged as a political tactic in Europe and across the world, where it formed one part of anti-colonial, anti-capitalist and national liberation movements. While its public spectacle took advantage of the new media landscape to communicate affective and political messages, terrorism was ultimately a ‘weapon of the weak’, a means for individuals and small groups to fight against the increasingly powerful modern state. The turn to insurgent violence was consequently imbricated with the experience of state violence. Focusing on a period of revolutionary unrest and heightened political violence in early twentieth-century Russia, this article takes a micro-historical approach to examine how individuals and radical parties came to explain, justify, and incite terrorist acts through narratives of vengeance and ressentiment. Drawing on recent scholarship by anthropologists and historians of emotion and bypassing psychological modes of explanation, it tracks specific articulations of political subjectivity that combine claims to (popular) sovereignty, universalism, dignity and rights with the language of honour and shame. The terrorist act was frequently justified as a sovereign right derived from the experience of state violence upon the body.
      PubDate: Fri, 20 Sep 2019 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz027
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2019)
  • The United States As A Developing Nation: Revisiting The Peculiarities Of
           American History*
    • Authors: Link S; Maggor N.
      Pages: 269 - 306
      Abstract: AbstractIt has recently been suggested that the economic departure of the United States after the Civil War marked a ‘Second Great Divergence’. Compared to the ‘First’, the rise of Britain during the Industrial Revolution, this Second Great Divergence is curiously little understood: because the United States remains the template for modernization narratives, its trajectory is more easily accepted as preordained than interrogated as an unlikely historical outcome. But why should development have been problematic everywhere but the United States' This Viewpoint argues that a robust explanation for the United States's rise is lacking: it can neither be found in an economic history literature focused on factor endowments nor in internalist Americanist historiography, which often reproduces overdetermined accounts of modernization inspired by Max Weber. The most promising avenue of inquiry, we argue, lies in asking how American political institutions configured what should properly be called an American developmental state. Such a perspective opens up a broad comparative research agenda that provincializes the United States from the perspective of development experiences elsewhere.
      PubDate: Tue, 24 Dec 2019 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/pastj/gtz032
      Issue No: Vol. 246, No. 1 (2019)
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