Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848

Katrina Navickas
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This book is a wide-ranging survey of the development of mass movements for democracy and workers’ rights in northern England. It surveys movements throughout the whole period, from the first working-class radical societies of the 1790s to trade unions in the 1830s and Chartists and Owenite socialists in the 1840s. It offers a provocative narrative of the privatisation of public space and workers’ dispossession from place, with parallels for contemporary debates about protests in public space and democracy and anti-globalisation movements.

Space and place are central to the strategies and meaning of protest. The book examines the reaction by governments and local authorities, who sought to restrict public and private political meetings, demonstrations and marches. It charts the physical and symbolic conflicts over who had the right to speak and meet in northern England. The Peterloo Massacre of 1819 marked a particularly significant turning point in the relationship between government, local elites and the working classes. Radicals, organised labour and Chartists fought back by challenging their exclusion from public spaces, creating their own sites and eventually constructing their own buildings. They looked to new horizons, including America. This book also examines the relationship of protesters with place. Rural resistance, including enclosure riots, arson and machine-breaking during Luddism in 1812 and the Captain Swing agitation of the early 1830s, demonstrated communities’ defence of their landscape as a place of livelihood and customary rights.

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‘A well-written and thoroughly researched addition to the scholarship on historical protest. Katrina Navickas makes a strong case for the significance of space and place to the historical study of protest.'
Hannah Awcock
Journal of Historical Geography
May 2016

‘Anyone interested in the long eighteenth century will welcome this fine monograph on a subject at the heart of debates on the 'popular' history of the period. The topics of 'space and place' have been around for some time, from the work of Mark Harrison (1988), James Vernon (1993), Paul Halliday (1998), Steve Poole (1999) and James Epstein (2003), but they have never been treated with the depth of research and the generosity of scope that are provided here. Katrina Navickas drills more deeply into the world of protest than any of her predecessors and her perceptive research is presented in a lively and readable narrative.'
Frank O'Gorman, University of Manchester
English Historical Review

‘Navickas is to be congratulated for producing a work of prodigious scholarship, the conclusions of which repay close attention by any scholar of modern popular protest and politics.'
Matthew Roberts, Sheffield Hallam University
Parliamentary History

‘Navickas not only examines the ways in which local elites organised carefully choreographed and highly ritualised public displays of loyalty, but also traces their systematic attempts to exclude radicals and their ideas from the civic body politic. Her 'thick' descriptions of the loyalist violence and intimidation…are not only chilling in their detail, but are redolent of E. P. Thompson's classic 'The Making of the English Working Class' in the way in which local detail is tellingly deployed both to illustrate and add nuance to a more general argument.'
Dr Mike Sanders, University of Manchester
Reviews in History
September 2016

‘Readable and fascinating, Katrina Navickas book might be particularly of interest to modern day activists and historians in the North (particularly Manchester) but I expect it will also become a much studied book for social historians trying to understand the historic struggles that have shaped, quite literally, the world we live and struggle in today.'
Resolute Reader

‘The book remains interesting and informative throughout, and on the whole it is both well-organized and well-written. The research basis is better than solid. This book has merits that outweigh its weaknesses, and for anyone wishing to know more about British popular politics between 1789 and 1848 it will be essential reading.'
Michael Turner, Appalachian State University
Labour/Le Travail 78 Volume 78
Fall 2016

‘This is an impressive volume that brings together recent research and insights about the uses of space to provide a convincing analysis of the importance of the concept to patterns of radical continuity between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth-century.'
Anthony Taylor, Sheffield Hallam University
Journal of Social History

‘A very impressive study, thoughtful and persuasive, laced with insights and interesting detail.'
Adrian Randall, University of Birmingham
Social History Journal, Issue 4
May 2016

‘Navickas admirably employs “space” as a conceptual category for understanding British reform movements, showing how protesters creatively reimagined space and their place in it as they reimagined government. Conversely, the government’s “restricting their ability to meet and to speak in public space” kept it an active category of contestation for both sides (p. 311). This book is effective as a close-to-the-ground history of how Britons found ways to resist an unequal and repressive governing system. […] Navickas offers a rich and well-researched study of six decades of public protest, impressively integrating primary source work (including citations from twenty-six archives) alongside syntheses of many historians’ studies. This work will remain useful for future scholars studying protest in industrializing England for both its focus and erudition.
H-Net Review

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