By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance. Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum, ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in activities not officially classed as war.
This book is about failed attempts to measure things that cannot really be quantified, and so, accordingly, I will now attempt to sum up the overwhelming contributions of the individuals and institutions that helped me write it.
First, I want to thank all the disabled people featured in this book, who fought back against attempts to categorise the diverse and innovative experiences of their lives.
The materials for half of this book derive from research I undertook at the University of Leeds with support from BT Archives. I am grateful to BT Archives and the AHRC for funding this research, and to David Hay for sharing his knowledge of the Post Office and allowing me to reproduce images from BT Archives. I am especially appreciative of the support of Professor Graeme Gooday for his incisive intellectual commentary on my work and his generous friendship over the past six years. His book, The Morals of Measurement, has been central to the development of my thinking about surrogate measurements and their use in healthcare. I am appreciative of the contributions of the scholarly community of The Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at Leeds between 2013 and 2016. I am thankful for the enduring friendships formed during that time with Alice Haigh, Rebecca Bowd, Anne Hanley, Kiara White, Gemma Almond and Nick Marsh. I have also gained immeasurably from the scholarship and friendship of Emily Herring, Jade Fletcher, Alice Murphy and Laura Sellers who have all read chapter drafts, encouraged me to keep writing when I was worried about the process and encouraged me to keep drinking when on girls’ nights out.
The other half of this book was written in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bristol. My research there was made possible through the support of the Wellcome Trust and I am very grateful that their generosity has allowed this book to be open access. I thank all the staff and students who helped shape my scholarship between 2017 and 2019. I am especially appreciative of the cross-disciplinary engagement, reading and encouragement of my work from friends and colleagues: Ana-Maria Crețu, Karim Thébault, Jason Konek, and Robert Chapman. Thanks also to my office-mates Joshua Habgood-Coote, Sean Gryb and Johannes Stern. I miss our coffees and our climate-challenged office!
I am indebted to all the members of the Life of Breath team at Durham University and Bristol. Being a part of this project with its amazing group of interdisciplinary scholars has changed the way I think about history, and convinced me that one of the best ways we can think about the past is in relation to how we can shape the present. Thanks to all the team and especially to Kate Binnie, Alice Malpass, Tina Williams, James Dodd and Jane Macnaughton. Thank you to Havi Carel for hiring me on the project. Before I started working with Havi, I expressed my hope to a mutual colleague that she would be nice, and they responded, ‘Nice? She’s far too intelligent and interesting to be described as nice!’ I have since appreciated the truth of this descriptor, and have sincerely appreciated Havi’s intellectual power, her unpredictability and especially her luminous prose. But in fact, she has been very nice to me, and I appreciate the many and various kindnesses that she has extended to me over the last two years. I have also benefited from the wisdom and efficiency of our project manager Jordan Collver who designed the image used on the cover of this book. The Life of Breath Project also allowed me to invite Lundy Braun to Bristol to give a brilliant lecture on ‘race correction in medicine’ in the summer of 2018. Braun’s Breathing Race into the Machine is the most exciting history of medicine book I have ever read and has hugely influenced my thinking.
As well as individuals, this book was made possible by institutions, and I am grateful to the National Archives and its staff (especially Paul Johnson) and all the archivists at the wonderful South Wales Miners’ Library. I have been lucky enough to work closely with the incredible object collections at the Thackray Medical Museum and I appreciate the help with sourcing and reproducing the images in this book given by Alan Humphries and Louise Crossley. Further thanks to the Action on Hearing Loss Library, principally to librarian extraordinaire Dominic Stiles. Thanks also to the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine and all those who contributed to the ‘Measuring Aurality’ group. I greatly appreciated the feedback Mara Mills gave me on Chapter 4, which dovetails most closely with her brilliant scholarship on telephony in the US context. This group was organised by Jaipreet Virdi, who I owe huge thanks to for her help with this book and her generous encouragement throughout the last six years. I first met Jai at a conference in Leeds in 2013, and this encounter totally changed my sense of how a historian could be. Her vision, scholarship, humour and grace are unparalleled. Manchester University Press has been a wonderful place to publish a first book. I particularly appreciate the professionalism and kindness of Emma Brennan, Julie Anderson, Jen Mellor and Paul Clarke. Thanks also to those involved in the production process, especially Christopher Feeney and Helen Flitton. I am very grateful to the anonymous reviewer for their astute observations and encouraging remarks on earlier drafts. If you confirm your identity, I would love to buy you a cake.
My family have been a constant source of love, support and encouragement throughout my life. It is too big to really commend all its members to paper, but I want to convey special thanks to the Crawford family, especially my Gran and Grandad (Maureen and David Crawford) and the McGuire family, especially my Grannie Anne (Anne McGuire). Thanks also to Tracey Barr, and Anthony, Maria, George and Claudia Pace. My Uncle Ernie (Pace) and Uncle Billy (Barr) passed away before seeing this book but were both instrumental in facilitating its completion. Thank you to my incredible brother Michael, who I love, and am unutterably proud of, and my (almost) sister Camilla. Not technically a sister either, but much more than a best friend, thank you to Victoria Brown. And to my Mum and Dad, Yvonne and Ewan McGuire – thank you for everything. Everything I am or will ever be is owed to you both. I love you very much.
And with love, I come at last to my husband. I am so happy to be part of your family, and want to thank Ian, Janet, Gaz, Amy, Neil, Sophie and Daphne Bellis, Uncle Rob and the Cater family for their warm support throughout the last four years. Richard, I could never attempt to measure (directly or indirectly) the infinite amount of love we have. However, I know you will want me to at least try. So, thank you for bearing with me while I wrote this. For reading and editing my entire first draft, listening to me and helping me, for probably helping me a bit too much with the bibliography, for cooking and cleaning so I could work, for making me laugh always, for everything. We are both aware of the vastness of history and our relatively small space in it, yet I cannot be made to believe that any other two people could ever have been as happy as we are right now.