Showing posts from 2009

the notion of 'public' space

The ongoing debate about photography in 'public' spaces has many parallels with my own work on space in the eighteenth century.
This recent article and Steve Bell's excellent 'If' series last week raise the same issues that have been troubling eighteenth century historians ever since Jurgen Habermas's Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was translated into English in the late 80s. In fact, streets, squares, town halls, and other seemingly 'public' buildings have in essence always been 'private', controlled by local authorities, private estates and landowners, who determined their uses, who had the right to use them, and when.
I'm looking at loitering as a means of protest at the moment, not just during obvious types of action such as strikes and demonstrations, but also during what de Certeau would term the resistance of 'everyday life'.
Loitering disrupted authorities' control over the streets, but its very disorganisa…

article on Gillray cartoons

new university webpage

online map

I'm working on an online map of sites of protests in Manchester. Do contact me if you're interested in seeing/contributing to it.

View Manchester meetings and riots, 1770-1848 in a larger map

interactive maps

At the moment I'm trying to work out how to do an interactive map. Any suggestions welcome.

These are good examples:
Edinburgh University MSc in Landscape
West Yorkshire Archives Tracks in Time

nice website by the Pevsner people

I quite like the design of this website to promote the Pevsner guides.
Looking at Buildings

article in the Guardian


The recent art-work 'Procession' by Jeremy Deller is a significant reminder and celebration of the processions that used to be a regular feature of Manchester's civic calendar. Indeed, Deller's banner that headed the procession [now on display at the Cornerhouse] deliberately and kindly imitated the traditional trade union banners now catalogued by the People's History Museum. Deansgate has long been a central feature of processions, its straight length linking the symbols of old power [the Collegiate Church, now Cathedral] with the new [the canals of Castlefield and the railway].

Local elites encouraged civic pride and national patriotism through processions: no birthday of a royal family member or celebration of a naval victory was complete without a procession round the town. Yet the ritual of processions - their banners and their bands - were highly regulated and controlled. The order of the procession was a visual reminder of the order in society: gentlemen and…

interesting articles on non-obvious protests

I'm currently looking at protests that were not as overtly obvious as demonstrations, meetings or strikes. Such protests could include arson; trespass along or reopening of closed footpaths, deliberate slacking off at work; wearing of political symbols in everyday life.

All fall under the shady category of 'social protest' or defence of custom, but I'm wary that I don't fall into the old trap of classifying crime as protest. They fall perhaps more neatly under the category of 'pauper/labourer agency'; that is, giving a voice and credit to the actions of the most disadvantaged or voiceless in Georgian society.

Here's a selection of articles and books I've been reading recently:
M. Huberman, Escape from the Market: Negotiating Work in Lancashire (CUP, 1996)P. King, 'Gleaners, Farmers and the Failure of Legal Sanctions in England, 1750-1850,' Past & Present, 125 (1989)R. J. Soderlund, 'Resistance from the Margins: the Yorkshire Worsted Spi…

'As I tried to bludgeon Chartist demonstrators in the square'

The quotation above of course is made up by Half Man Half Biscuit, in 'Letters Sent.'

Chartist demonstrations almost automatically bring to mind urban settings of protest - particularly 'monster' meetings in Georgian and early Victorian civic squares: Stevenson's Square in Manchester, Clayton Square in Liverpool, Paradise Square in Sheffield, and so on. Many of the big meetings - and conflicts - occurred in what should be 'public' space, but in fact were not freely open to all, but controlled by local elites opposed to any threats to public order.

Yet Chartist demonstrations were not solely urban in character. Partly because they were being forced out of 'public' spaces in towns, and partly because inhabitants still had connections with the countryside, 'camp meetings' and demonstrations also occurred in rural areas, especially on moors and commons. Processions from towns out to the more remote moors connected urban with rural. Monster meeting…

The revival of 'Old Corruption'

Probably one of the many posts I'll write beginning with 'Twas ever thus.'

The sustained outrage in the press about the expenses of MPs has many echoes in the campaigns against 'Old Corruption' during the long eighteenth century.

'Country' Whig MPs and radicals outside parliament had many solutions for parliamentary corruption, from annual elections to cutting the civil list.

The 'South Sea Bubble' of 1720, the 'credit crunch' [how I hate that phrase] of their times, renewed suspicions about the government's handling of the economy, but Britain's 'saviour' Sir Robert Walpole also had much mud slung at him for his shady deals to keep in power. John Wilkes revived calls against parliamentary corruption in the 1760s, and supporting 'economical reform' became a badge of the Association movement of the 1770s and 1780s.

The most vivid campaign arose in 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars. Huge scandals emerged around major figures…

first of all, a plug for my book

My new book, Loyalism and Radicalism in Lancashire, 1798-1815, is published with OUP.

link to OUP website