Lecturer in History Dr. Neil Younger has published How Protestant was the Elizabethan regime? in the English Historical Review. Recent historiography on the Elizabethan regime has argued that it was strongly dominated by convinced Protestants, most prominently Lord Burghley, the earl of Leicester and Sir Francis Walsingham. This article argues that this consensus glosses over many important political figures whose religion was much more conservative, who were often sympathetic to Catholics and in several cases were probably essentially Catholic themselves. These individuals, although prominent at the time, have been seriously neglected by historians, often because of the nature of the archival record. The article surveys the prominence of such men throughout the reign, examining their religious inclinations. It goes on to assess the extent of their influence on the politics of the period, arguing that they were capable of mounting major political initiatives, and indeed scored several important successes against more strongly Protestant policies. Likewise, it argues that very often forward Protestant policies met with failure, in which the conservatives’ influence can often be detected. Finally, it discusses some of the consequences of these findings, proposing a more complex picture of Elizabethan politics, in which religious division and indeed conflict was a significant factor, and arguing that the Elizabethan regime should therefore be seen as a much less united and univocal entity than is often assumed.
Senior Lecturer in History Dr. Rosalind Crone has published a Guide to the Criminal Prisons of Nineteenth Century England.
The penal system in nineteenth-century England was incredibly complicated. It comprised two types of prison: convict prisons and local prisons. While convict prisons were under the direct control of the Home Office, local prisons were, until the 1877 Prison Act, managed by a whole host of different local authorities, from counties and boroughs to liberties and even cathedrals. Moreover, included among convict prisons were penitentiaries, public works prisons and prison hulks (also known as floating prisons), while local prisons included gaols, bridewells and lock-ups. This complexity has led to a raft of studies of individual institutions. Nevertheless, big gaps in our knowledge remain. Simply put, we don’t even know how many prisons existed in nineteenth-century England. This Guide to the Criminal Prisons of Nineteenth-Century England recovers much of that lost landscape. It contains critical information about operational dates, locations, jurisdictions, population statistics, appearances in primary and secondary sources and lists of surviving archives for 844 English prisons-including local prisons (419), convict prisons (17), prison hulks (30) and lock-ups (378)-used to confine those accused and convicted of crime in the period 1800-1899. Furthermore, through analysis of the accumulated data, the book challenges several important assumptions on the emergence of the modern prison in Britain. It also draws attention to previously unexplored patterns in the preservation and management of penal records.
Professor Paul Lawrence has published Historical criminology and the explanatory power of the past in Criminology and Criminal Justice. To what extent can the past ‘explain’ the present? This deceptively simple question lies at the heart of historical criminology (research which incorporates historical primary sources while addressing present-day debates and practices in the criminal justice field). This article seeks first to categorize the ways in which criminologists have used historical data thus far, arguing that they are most commonly deployed to ‘problematize’ the contemporary rather than to ‘explain’ it. The article then interrogates the reticence of criminologists to attribute explicative power in relation to the present to historical data. Finally, it proposes the adoption of long time-frame historical research methods, outlining three advantages which would accrue from this: the identification and analysis of historical continuities; a more nuanced, shared understanding of micro/macro change over time in relation to criminal justice; and a method for identifying and analysing instances of historical recurrence, particularly in perceptions and discourses around crime and justice.
On 2 July 2018 we held a very successful workshop on Colonial migration in Africa and Asia: historical connections and comparisons, organized by the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies.
Migration is one of the foundational pillars of the story of humanity. The study of migration has been energised in recent decades by new sources and frameworks such as transnational history and diaspora studies. Migration is a topic that engages the attention of scholars in numerous disciplines, including history, human geography, development and literature. Understanding migration in its myriad forms has an urgent contemporary relevance in light of current migration movements driven by factors such as conflict (inter-state, intra-state, and non-state), labour demands in a globalised world, and climate change. By bringing together scholars working on historical migration in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia during the colonial period, the event enabled area studies specialists who practice transnational history to engage in a productive intellectual dialogue with each other and attendees. The event aims to bridge the gap between scholars of Africa and Asia, and enable historical perspectives to inform research in other disciplines.
Dr. Richard Marsden, Lecturer in History and Staff Tutor, has published Scottish parliamentary record scholarship in the devolution era. In 1707 Scotland’s parliament ceased to exist. Yet it has since been the subject of two monumental acts of record scholarship; the Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland (1814-1875) in the nineteenth century and the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland (2007) in the twenty-first. Using the first of these as a touchstone, this article examines the ways in which the records of the pre-1707 parliament are presented, positioned and interpreted in the second. Unlike the nineteenth-century edition, which was produced in an era when adherence to the 1707 Act of Union with England went all but unquestioned, the twenty-first-century version was created during a period of constitutional devolution amidst a national debate over the question of independence from the United Kingdom. Approaching this new edition of parliamentary records as a cultural product, shaped and informed by the context in which it was created, therefore enables us to learn much about how the relationship between history and national identity in Scotland has changed since its predecessor was published. From there, the article questions the assumption that present-day understandings of Scottish identity are primarily civic and forward-looking, and argues that they are in fact partly based on claims which, whether secessionist or devolutionist, are fundamentally historical.
Research into the history of Wales by Open University students is now freely available online for
the first time. These dissertations include studies of topics such as Owain Glyndwr, Welsh Catholicism after the Reformation, early modern medicine in Wales, Welsh seaside resorts, nineteenth-century mining in South Wales, and Barry during World War Two. They can all be accessed on Open Research Online.
This research was conducted by students studying the Open University module, ‘The Making of Welsh History’. The module uses Wales as a case study to explore themes that have shaped the modern British Isles, from medieval lordship and conflict, through the spread of Protestantism and the industrial revolution, to political protest and the rise of nationalism in an era of globalization. The module culminates in a 6,000-word dissertation in which students research a Welsh history topic of their own choosing. The best of those dissertations are then made publicly available online.
‘The Making of Welsh History’ invites students to explore a huge vista of online sources and scholarship, supported by guidance from experts. It also offers those studying it the opportunity to be part of a tight-knit learning community, in which students actively help one another to develop skills and conduct research.
I was able to analyse the lives of women who lived 800 years ago and it proved to be thoroughly interesting, eye-opening and fascinating.
Natalie Owsley, student
OU student Gareth Howells, whose dissertation looked at the impact of the McKinley Tariff on the South Wales tinplate industry between 1880 and 1895, said: ‘This was the final module on my OU History degree, and by far the most enjoyable. The tutors were all fantastic, the student community was very supportive, and the course materials provided me with everything I needed to reach my potential. Writing a dissertation was hard work, but incredibly fulfilling. As a direct result of my experience on the module, I have enrolled onto a full-time MA History programme at Swansea University. I’d urge anyone to give it a go!’
Natalie Owsley, a student whose dissertation focused on the life choices available to thirteenth-century Welsh noble-women, said: ‘The module gave me the opportunity to really get involved with a topic that I found intriguing. As a non-Welsh speaker, I was initially concerned that this would inhibit the resources I could access, however I needn’t have worried. All resources were readily available in English and mostly in digital form. I was able to analyse the lives of women who lived 800 years ago and it proved to be thoroughly interesting, eye-opening and fascinating. I felt like an actual historian for the first time’.
If you would like to learn more about ‘The Making of Welsh History’, please contact Dr Richard Marsden.
OU students can also study one of two modules in Scottish History, offered in collaboration to Dundee University. They are CDDR320 Medieval and Early Modern Scottish History, 1100-1707 and CDDR301 Modern Scottish History, 1707-1997. Both are 60-point Level 3 modules which explore Scotland’s political, economic, social and cultural history through the centuries. Either can count towards a History degree. For more information on how the collaborative scheme works and on the two modules, follow the link here: http://www.open.ac.uk/collaborative-schemes/?utm_source=collaborative_schemes&utm_campaign=publications%7carts%7cpub05w&utm_medium=prospectus&utm_content=waxzad%7c15
Dr Luc-André Brunet, Lecturer in History, has published an article in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper of record. Current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been facing opposition by environmental groups around his decision to extend an oil pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Ocean. Dr Brunet draws on his research on peace activism in Canada in the 1980s – which was directed against then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the father of Canada’s current leader – to discuss similarities between the two issues and what lessons can be drawn for today’s policymakers. You can read the article here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-like-father-like-son-prime-minister-trudeau-faces-greenpeace/
Senior Lecturer in History Dr Rosalind Crone’s Prison History project, which is based on the research undertaken during her AHRC Fellowship on Educating Criminals in Nineteenth Century England, is the subject of an article in Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. You can read the article here:
Professor Karl Hack has published ‘Devils that suck the blood of the Malayan People’: The Case for Post-Revisionist Analysis of Counter-insurgency Violence’ in War in History. The article addresses the ‘revisionist’ case that post-war Western counter-insurgency deployed widespread, exemplary violence in order to discipline and intimidate populations. It does this by using the Malayan Emergency of 1948–60 as a case study in extreme counter-insurgency ‘violence’, defined as high to lethal levels of physical force against non-combatants’ (civilians, detainees, prisoners, and corpses). It confirms high levels of such violence, from sporadic shooting of civilians to the killing of 24 unarmed workers at Batang Kali. Yet it also demonstrates that there were more varieties of and nuances in extreme force than is sometimes realized, for instance with multiple and very different forms of mass population displacement. It also concentrates more effort on explaining how such violence came about, and shows a marked trend over time towards greatly improved targeting, and towards methods that did not cause direct bodily harm. This case study therefore suggests the need for a ‘post-revisionist’ form of counter-insurgency analysis: one that can take into account the lifecycles of multiple types of violence, and of violence-limitation, and emphasize explanation for extreme violence over its mere description. Such a post-revisionist analysis need not necessarily imply that there was more, or less, violence than suggested by previous accounts. Instead, it requires a more nuanced and contextualized account, clearly differentiated by technique, place, and period.