Richard Marsden’s article in History Compass

Dr. Richard Marsden, Lecturer in History and Staff Tutor, has published “Medievalism: new discipline or scholarly no-man’s land?” in History Compass. The term “medievalism” refers to how people have, since the 15th century, conceptualised the thousand years of history preceding that date. The study of medievalism is therefore not about the Middle Ages per se, but rather the ways in which the medieval period has been imagined in the centuries since it ended. Yet the field’s origins date from as recently as the 1970s. Medievalism Studies is thus still finding its feet and must consequently deal with some existential questions about its scope and remit, its methodological underpinnings, its implications for how history is periodised, and its relationship with more established disciplines. It also faces criticisms of Anglo‐centricism as well as hostility from some historians thanks to the doubts its practitioners raise over established delineations between scholarly and creative depictions of the medieval period. Nonetheless, this new field offers a much‐needed challenge to the calcified disciplinary boundaries that shape academia today.

Silvia de Renzi’s book Pathology in Practice Diseases and Dissections in Early Modern Europe

Dr. Silvia de Renzi, Lecturer in the History of Medicine, has published Pathology in Practice: Diseases and Dissections in Early Modern Europe, edited with Marco Bresadola, and Maria Conforti.Post-mortems may have become a staple of our TV viewing, but the long history of this practice is still little known. This book provides a fresh account of the dissections that took place across early modern Europe on those who had died of a disease or in unclear circumstances. Drawing on different approaches and on sources as varied as notes taken at the dissection table, legal records and learned publications, the chapters explore how autopsies informed the understanding of pathology of all those involved. With a broad geography, including Rome, Amsterdam and Geneva, the book recaptures the lost worlds of physicians, surgeons, patients, families and civic authorities as they used corpses to understand diseases and make sense of suffering. The evidence from post-mortems was not straightforward, but between 1500 and 1750 medical practitioners rose to the challenge, proposing various solutions to the difficulties they encountered and creating a remarkable body of knowledge. The book shows the scope and diversity of this tradition and how laypeople contributed their knowledge and expectations to the wide-ranging exchanges stimulated by the opening of bodies.



Luc-Andre Brunet wins Michael J. Hellyer Prize

Dr. Luc-AndrĂ© Brunet, Lecturer in Twentieth-Century European History, has been awarded the Michael J. Hellyer Prize by the British Association of Canadian Studies (BACS). The award is presented for the best paper given at the BACS annual conference. This year’s conference, held at Senate House, University of London, featured 61 papers delivered over three days. Luc’s paper, entitled ‘Pierre Trudeau’s 1983 Peace Initiative: An International History’ uses recently declassified archival sources from seven different countries to re-evaluate Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s peace initiative, a major Canadian foreign policy venture that aimed at reducing Cold War tensions in the context of the so-called Euromissile Crisis. The paper is part of a book Luc is currently writing for McGill-Queen’s University Press provisionally entitled Canada, Nuclear Weapons, and the End of the Cold War.

Two-day AHRC-funded workshop on Sustainable Farming Practices Past and Present, Bangalore, India, 21-22 February 2018

The AHRC-funded Changing Farmers’ Lives Past and Present research project held its first event in Bangalore, co-organised by Dr. Sandip Hazareesingh, Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, Open University and the Karnataka based NGO Green Foundation. A variety of presentations by academic researchers and development practitioners explored the potential, first, of Arts and Humanities approaches, in particular aspects of oral history, stories, drama, and film, to document and support small farmer creativity in developing resilience to livelihood challenges in relation to food, biodiversity, and climate issues; and second, of participatory methods aimed at local community conservation of agricultural biodiversity and revival and control of indigenous seeds. Each session was followed by lively discussions. A very original feature of the Workshop was a visit to the Janadhanya Women’s Federation in nearby Terubeedi village. At the community seed bank centre, workshop participants met with local women farmers who presented their work on seed conservation and provided delicious tasters of some of the foods produced by the group, including millet-based papadoms and savoury snacks.

John Slight’s article in War and Society

Dr. John Slight, Lecturer in Modern History, has published ‘Global war and its impact on the Gulf States of Kuwait and Bahrain, 1914-1918’ in War and Society. The article provides the first detailed analysis of the Gulf States of Kuwait and Bahrain during the First World War. It argues that the war had a disruptive effect on these states’ politics, societies, economies and trans-regional networks. As well as writing the wartime experiences of Kuwait and Bahrain into the conflict’s global history, it aids our understanding of the effects of world-wide conflict on states which are not major belligerent powers.

Luc-Andre Brunet’s article in Contemporary European History

Dr. Luc-Andre Brunet, Lecturer in Twentieth Century European History, has published ‘The Creation of the Monnet Plan, 1945-46: A Critical Re-evaluation’, in Contemporary European History. Drawing on an extensive range of French archival sources as well as Jean Monnet’s papers, this article challenges several commonly held views regarding the establishment of the Monnet Plan by re-examining the domestic political context in post-war France. It reveals that the distinctive ‘supra-ministerial’ structure of the Monnet Plan was developed only after, and in direct response to, the October 1945 legislative elections in which the French Communist Party won the most seats and subsequently gained control of France’s main economic ministries. Furthermore, Monnet managed to convince communist ministers to surrender important powers from their ministries to Monnet’s nascent planning office on false premises, a finding that challenges the usual depiction of Monnet as an open and honest broker.

Luc-Andre Brunet interviewed by LSE Ideas about his new book Forging Europe

LSE Ideas interviewed Luc-Andre Brunet, Lecturer in Twentieth Century European History, on his new book, Forging Europe: Industrial Organisation in France, 1940–1952. Forging Europe is a detailed and original look at the radical reorganisation of French heavy industry in the turbulent period between the establishment of the Vichy regime in 1940 and the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the forerunner to the European Union, in 1952. By studying institutions ranging from Vichy’s Organisation Committees to Jean Monnet’s Commissariat GĂ©nĂ©ral du Plan (CGP), Luc-AndrĂ© Brunet challenges existing narratives and reveals significant continuities from Vichy to post-war initiatives such as the Monnet Plan and the ECSC. Based on extensive multi-archival research, this book sheds important new light on economic collaboration and resistance in Vichy, the post-war revival of the French economy, and the origins of European integration.

Notes on sources: Museum visitor comments books and the history of immigration to Britain by Samuel Aylett

The second in a series of blog posts on sources used by our PhD students, Samuel Aylett’s post on his own blog, Legacies of the British Empire, looks at how Museum visitor comments books shed light on contemporary attitudes to immigration and migrants. The blog post can be found by clicking on the link below:

Samuel’s blog with other posts related to his PhD research can be found here:

Ferguson Centre Director awarded an AHRC Research Networking for International Development (GCRF) grant

Centre Director Dr. Sandip Hazareesingh has been awarded an AHRC Research Networking for International Development (GCRF) grant for a 12-month pilot project on ‘Changing Farming Lives in South India, Past and Present’. The project’s main aim is to explore the potential of various aspects of history, film, and sound, to document and support small farmer creativity and resilience to food, biodiversity and climate issues in south India. It will be carried out in collaboration with a Karnataka-based NGO, Green Foundation, which works with local smallholders to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture. The AHRC peer reviewer for the project wrote: ‘This is an ambitious project which has the potential to produce long-term beneficial contributions to knowledge of significant cultural practices, as well as contributing to the sustainability of those practices through a heritage record of them’.

Crime, Policing and Technology in the 20th century seminar, Friday 10th November 2017

On Friday 10th November 2017, the International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice at the Open University will be hosting the next event in its regular seminar series. Four papers will be presented, paper titles and presenters are below. Full details of the seminar, including how to reserve a place, are in the document at the end of this blog post; please click on the link to access the document.

Alison Adam (Sheffield Hallam University)

Science in the service of detection: the British ‘scientific aids’ movement of the 1930s

Ian Burney (University of Manchester)

Spatters and Lies: Technologies of Truth in the Sam Sheppard Case, 1954-1966

Chris Williams (Open University)

The Home Office, Information and Communications, 1950-1975

Paul Lawrence (Open University)

The Curious Case of the Adoption of Photo-FIT

Crime Policing and Technology – Seminar Day Programme 10Nov2017