Building on Karni’s thoughtful interrogation of the ways in which Ishiguro’s narrative techniques inspire questions about the novel as form, in his chapter, ‘Novel dysfunction in When We Were Orphans’, Andrew Bennett takes a similar approach, arguing that Ishiguro’s deployment of the detective genre both exploits and confounds expectations that the novel is a ‘meaning-producing artifact’. In his reading of Ishiguro’s possibly least reliable narrator (and possibly the only cognitively impaired), Bennett deconstructs the flawed logic of the fantastic narrative, suggesting that various causal uncertainties which appear to be simply locally inexplicable in fact indicate the ‘more fundamental failure of the novel to work in the way that its readers might reasonably expect’. Taking two recurring symbols, the idea of blindness and the prominence of severed body parts, Bennett playfully foregrounds the ‘narratological, hermeneutic, and intertextual’ failures of the novel, arguing ultimately that the novel’s paradox is that its success as a literary artefact derives from these structural and signifying failures. In this way, his chapter performs a critique of the novel form, the traditions of realism and the reader’s desire to understand what is, ultimately, meaningless.
The second chapter investigates Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), perhaps the founding text of modern conservatism. The Reflections were written in response to a popular pro-Jacobin speech at the Old Jewry, London, in November 1789 by the Welsh preacher and republican pamphleteer Richard Price; and Burke made much of the ‘Jewish’ location of Price’s radical oratory. Burke argued that the Jacobins were ‘Jews’, that is to say men who made their money through usury and lacked the requisite respect for private property. He likewise labelled them ‘Maroons’ – escaped African slaves – and lamented the fact that women played so central and active a role in the French Revolution. And, as this chapter discusses, Burke contrasted this French chaos with Britain; his Reflections on the Revolution were at the same time a reflection on a harmonious image of British social peace, where private property supposedly remained sacrosanct and the ‘natural’ racial and gendered order of his late-eighteenth-century world had not been inverted. Burke recognised that radicalism was rife in Britain and his political imagination was a mixture of anti-Jewish rhetoric, a conservative paranoia about the masses, patriarchal fear of women and a valorisation of landed property.
This book is an intellectual and political history of private property from the seventeenth century onwards in the Anglophone Atlantic world. It studies what people imagine it means to live in a world where private property is dominant and their fears (and sometimes hopes) about living in a future world where private property has disappeared. In the propertied imagination, private property is a fragile thing, a socially positive institution beset by terrifying enemies. That threatened social chaos is the central unifying story of this book. The narrative of private property as a source of harmony and social stability had to be told and retold precisely because of a simultaneously parallel narrative about the imminent disappearance of private property. The book provides a genealogy of ideas of private property within capitalist modernity and shows how modern conceptions of private property always have racial and gendered logics and a fear of the mob operating within them.
Chapter Five stays in the United States, studying housing in the Truman era and how, after the horrors of the Second World War, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) actively promoted suburbanisation and an idealised vision of the white nuclear family. The combined effects of the Great Depression and the war effort meant there was a serious housing shortage in the USA after 1945. Within the Truman Administration, there was often an open anger against a real estate industry that was perceived to be uncooperative in solving this crisis. Yet the eventual programme privileged privately built and privately owned single-family homes (conventionally holding three or four bedrooms, thus subtly insinuating how many children a couple should have), with mortgages generally only made available to white applicants. I place all this in the broader context of American welfare provision – which has tended to favour the inviolability of private property – and its sustained racial and gendered underpinnings. This chapter draws extensively on archival material from the Truman Presidential Library.
Using the findings of the Royal Historical Society’s Race, Ethnicity & Equality in UK History: A Report and Resource for Change, published in 2018, this chapter considers how anti-racist action has been undertaken in history higher education in the UK. The report found that undergraduate-level history was overwhelmingly white in terms of students, that the numbers were even lower when it came to postgraduate-level history and that ‘history academic staff are less diverse than H&PS student cohorts’. Taking stock of these findings, many history departments across UK universities reviewed, strengthened or created anew their equality, diversity and inclusivity agendas. Ranging from efforts to diversify curriculum content to improving mechanisms to report racial abuse, this chapter will reflect on the effectiveness of these proposals. As the postdoctoral fellow funded by the Past and Present Society to embed the impact of the Race Report, the author offers a critical perspective on how the race equality work so clearly envisioned in the report not only mirrors but is reinforced by the equality work taking place in wider Britain. The museum and heritage sector, those working with schools and the curriculum and those producing history for the public are working in a mutually constitutive set of structures to engender anti-racist action and behaviour. By tracing the intellectual development of the RHS’s equalities work as it ties to the anti-racist work we can see in Britain more broadly, the chapter reflects on the extent to which meaningful change can occur in history higher education.
Chapter 8 places women centre stage illustrating how belief that women were weak and dangerous united medical practitioners and law makers. Medicine, in the sense of theories of the body and sickness, was deployed to make law and justify exclusion of women from public life. One group of women escaped exclusion and the often-forgotten story of ecclesiastical licensing of midwives in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is evaluated, highlighting the public duties of the midwife as a guardian of morals as well as the healer caring for birthing women. The sudden demise of ecclesiastical regulation and the take-over of childbirth by the ‘medical men’ is assessed. The imagery of women as both weak and dangerous is shown to buttress the many legal incapacities imposed on women by the common law. Similarly, bizarre theories about reproduction also influenced English law. The chapter demonstrates the high value placed on bloodlines and lineage, what would today be described as genetic identity. It explores the impact of ‘scientific’ (mis)understandings of reproduction in late medieval and early modern England on the development of the law and in particular male primogeniture. The close links between questions of property and reproduction will be analysed and entrenched antipathy to single motherhood examined. The historical themes of emphasis on genetic relatedness, wariness of certain kinds of parenthood and questions of access to regulation of reproduction will be shown to be instructive to modern debates on reproductive medicine and the law.
Tribe Arts is a philosophically inspired, radical-political theatre company based in Leeds. Founded by Tajpal Rathore and Samran Rathore, it aims to amplify the stories and voices of second- and third-generation black and Asian people in Britain, interrogating themes and issues such as race, belonging and identity. Tribe Arts’s previous shows have included Darokhand, a reimagining of six Shakespeare plays, amalgamated into an original story set in a striking Gothic-Mughal world – stylistically a gothic landscape evoking Mughal India; and Tribe Talks, a radical format of participatory theatre in which a panel of speakers motivate the audience to discuss important topics around the history of black and Asian people. In 2020, Tribe Arts launched Off/Stage, the only e-zine currently dedicated to black and Asian theatre and culture in the UK. This interview sees editors Josh, Liam and Emma reconvene with Thaj and Sam, both of whom presented on decolonial theatre practice at the original 2018 ‘After Empire?’ conference. In this conversation, held during the autumn of 2020, Thaj and Sam reflect on their origins as an organisation, exploring why decolonial theatre is necessary in modern Britain and how their work confronts the legacies of empire across British society.
Chapter 3 addresses the tripartite division of labour and the regulation of physicians, surgeons and apothecaries, from c. 1511–1858. It focuses on the battles between the three groups of orthodox practitioners, battles often fought out in the law courts. The Crown, Parliament and the courts were all involved in addressing the claims of the medical corporations to regulate their own members, and in the case of the College of Physicians to regulate the whole domain of medicine. The extensive powers of self-regulation granted to the College are considered, as is the anomaly that the College’s writ ran only in London and its environs. It highlights the role of the criminal process regulating healers and examines the series of challenges to the ‘mighty’ College. The chapter addresses the physicians’ unsuccessful efforts to enhance their social status, to be regarded as gentlemen, the equal of lawyers and the clergymen. Nor for the most part did the judges accord deference to the medical men. Sir Edward Coke declared that any university-educated judge could determine if a medical case had been handled correctly. The chapter charts the skirmishes between physicians, surgeons and apothecaries evaluating the impact of dramatic conflict between physicians and apothecaries in Rose v College of Physicians heard in 1703. Finally, Chapter 3 outlines how in the light of developments in surgery the tripartite division made no sense, regulation in the provinces had more or less broken down entirely and pressure for reform grew.
Inspired by other studies that analyse the politics of Enoch Powell in light of the legacy of the British Empire, this chapter examines the British radical right’s response to Commonwealth immigration and decolonisation. In both challenging and building on these studies, this chapter argues that the British radical right drew deeply on the vast ideological and experiential reservoir of British imperialism in formulating and articulating their political vision. Drawing mostly on the published output of several of the groups that merged together to become the National Front in 1967, the chapter demonstrates that the activists within these groups experienced decolonisation and Commonwealth immigration as interlinked civilisational crises. In doing so, it considers their presence and activism around the Notting Hill racist riots in 1958 and at their response to Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. Against what they termed the ‘coloured invasion’ in Britain and the perceived surrender of ‘white rule’ abroad, they looked longingly at the renegade settler states of South Africa and Rhodesia, eventually reimagining Britain as the metropolitan equivalent of a besieged white-settler colony and white Britons as a variety of endangered white settler. This saw them reject the imperial remnants of the Commonwealth and advocate an imperial solution of a different order: a white alliance of Britain, its Dominions, South Africa and Rhodesia.
Chapter 7 examines the attitude of the common law and canon law to the living body. It asks how far your body was truly yours to do as you chose with. The answer proved to be – ‘not wholly yours’. Were you a married woman, the several legal incapacities imposed on married women effectively granted sovereignty over your body to your husband. While the courts developed trespass against the person to affirm patients’ rights to say no to their doctor, common and canon law placed limits on what any individual could choose to do or have done to their body. The law set its face against any notion that men or women owned their bodies prohibiting many but not all forms of self-mutilation. The antique crime of maim which limited what any subject of the Crown could have done, or do, to their bodies is considered. And it will be shown that even if maim is obsolete its ghost lives on. Re-attired as ‘public interest’, the House of Lords in R v Brown held that the victim’s consent alone was insufficient to render infliction of actual bodily harm lawful. Harm must be justified in the public interest. In nearly all cases surgery, be it performed in 1500 or 2023, involves harm above the bar set in Brown. But it will be shown that the legality of reasonable surgery was tacitly acknowledged. The gradual recognition of the ‘medical exception’ justifying responsible medical treatment is addressed.