E. P. Thompson and a sense of place

I've just come back from a morning at the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers. I was an interloping guest, as a historian, on a panel commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Making of the English Working Class. Chaired by Neil Gray, and speaking alongside Carl Griffin who spoke about Thompson's interpretation of Gramsci and its influence (or not) on historical geographers, and David Featherstone and Paul Griffin, who considered agency and the international influences of Thompson's work.

I append the long version of my paper below, but first I must remark on some of the things that struck me as a relative 'outsider' and newbie to a geography conference.
  • how vibrant and exciting many aspects of new geography seem;
  • that many of the papers are essentially history or sociology, but are informed by a much greater knowledge and framework of theory and/or practical applications than equivalent history papers
  • how more consciously interdisciplinary geographers are;
  • geographies of resistance seem to be a big thing at the moment, as does, to a lesser extent represented at this conference, emotional geographies. 
It's refreshing to come into a different but related field and come away seeing lots of elements of use to me and to the study of history. Historians should be more consciously interdisciplinary (there were loads of historical papers in the programme, that perhaps many historians do not come across because they'll end up published in geography journals or in geography monograph series). They should also revisit the importance of theoretical reflections (there was more integration of Marx and Gramsci for example than I'd ever heard in about 7 years of the Social History Society conference...).  They should also relate their work much more closely to its relevance for today's society and politics.

Read a long version of my paper on academia.edu: 'Thompson and a sense of place in The Making, and the making of place'.

LCS locations, data from Ian Newbould

Skircoat Green and Salter Hebble on Jeffrey's map of Yorkshire, 1775

Skircoat Green, Halifax


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