Showing posts from April, 2014

teaching trade union history in a post-labour age

It's week 11 of my 2nd year undergraduate history module, 'Peace, Power & Prosperity: British Society, 1789-1914'.(1) This week's lecture and seminar were on 19th century trade unions and labour history.

What made this week's session interesting, and perhaps important, because the UCU have called a marking boycott. This has completely riled the students. There has been an awful campaign on twitter #markmywork. and it appears that the student union from my university seems to be leading the campaign. For a good summary of the campaign and a justification of the strike, read this academic's response:

But the history of trade unions can be very hard to teach today.

Teaching labour history to undergraduates, most of whom are aged 19-20, is made difficult because most students have no frame of reference regarding trade unions.

Trade unions just don't figure in their lives or family histories. Many…

militant particularisms, music and the nature of genius-place

This weekend I did two seemingly unrelated things, which I will attempt to relate here!
Helped with a public history workshop on the 1817 March of the Blanketeers at the Manchester Histories Festival;Went to see 'Breadcrumb Trail', a documentary about Slint by Lance Bangs (who took a Q & A session afterwards), at the ICA. 
How do I connect them strangely in my head?

Well, I've been thinking a lot recently about Raymond Williams's notion of 'militant particularisms'.  (Bear with me!)

Williams, studying 20th century class politics in Cowley motor works, identified a ‘place-bound politics arising out of the experience of class solidarities and gender relations’ formed in particular places.

David Harvey understood this to mean a dichotomy between the local-particular-specific place and the national/international-general-abstract space. That is, place-bound political groups cannot achieve their goals (and indeed class consciousness) until they shift from focusing…