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Myth, memory and emotional adaption

What role does memory play in migrants’ adaption to the emotional challenges of migration? How are migrant selfhoods remade in relation to changing cultural myths? This book, the first to apply Popular Memory Theory to the Irish diaspora, opens new lines of critical enquiry within scholarship on the Irish in modern Britain. Combining innovative use of migrant life histories with cultural representations of the post-war Irish experience, it interrogates the interaction between lived experience, personal memory and cultural myth to further understanding of the work of memory in the production of migrant subjectivities. Based on richly contextualised case studies addressing experiences of emigration, urban life, work, religion and the Troubles in England, chapters illuminate the complex and contingent relationship between politics, culture and migrant identities, developing a dynamic view of the lived experience of British–Irish relations after 1945. Where memory is often regarded as a mechanism of antagonism within this relationship, Life History shows how migrants’ ‘recompose’ memories of migration as part of ongoing efforts to adapt to the transition between cultures and places. As well as shedding new light on the collective fantasies of post-war migrants and the circumstances which formed them, Life History thus illustrates the cultural and personal dynamics of subjective change over time: migrants located themselves as the subjects of a diverse and historically evolving repertoire of narratives, signalling adaption, difference and integration as co-articulating features of the Irish experience in post-1945 England.

Jonathan Moss

1 Contextualising women’s workplace activism in post-war England T he growth of women’s employment was one of the most significant social and economic changes in post-war England. But what were the implications of these changes for working-class women’s political identities and sense of self? This chapter provides an overview of how women’s growing presence in the workforce was understood by contemporaries. It demonstrates that female workers, trade unions, social scientists and WLM activists were increasingly drawing public attention to the poor conditions and

in Women, workplace protest and political identity in England, 1968-85
Sex, Catholicism and women in post-war England

On 25 July 1968, Pope Paul VI shook the world. His encyclical letter Humanae Vitae rejected widespread calls to permit use of the contraceptive pill and deemed artificial contraception ‘intrinsically evil’. The Catholic Church is now commonly identified as the antagonist in a story of sixties sexual revolution – a stubborn stone resisting the stream of sex-positive modernity. There has been little consideration of how Catholic women themselves experienced this period of cultural upheaval. This book is about the sexual and religious lives of Catholic women in post-war England. It uses original oral history material to uncover the way Catholic women negotiated spiritual and sexual demands at a moment when the two increasingly seemed at odds with one another. The book also examines the public pronouncements and secretive internal documents of the central Catholic Church, offering a ground-breaking new explanation of the Pope’s decision to prohibit the pill. The materials gathered here provide a fresh perspective on the idea that ‘sex killed God’, reframing dominant approaches to the histories of sex, religion and modernity. The memories of Catholic women help us understand why religious belief does not structure the lives of most English men and women today in the way it did at the close of the Second World War, why sex holds a place of such significance in our modern culture, and crucially, how these two developments related to one another. The book will be essential reading for not only scholars of sexuality, religion, gender and oral history, but anyone interested in post-war social change.

Otherness, belonging and the processes of migrant memory
Barry Hazley

Foreign and familiar: the politics of Irish migrant reception in post-war England Whatever the material hardships of the settlement process, Irish migrants arriving in England between 1945 and 1968 encountered a culture where ‘the Irish Question’ was no longer central to public debate, and where colour had largely replaced religion as the dominant criterion of national belonging. If the pathologisation of Irish propensities formed a key means of stabilising identities in Victorian Britain, the unsettling effects of rapid change in post-war society returned in

in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England
Myth, memory and masculinity in Irish men’s narratives of work in the British construction industry
Barry Hazley

cent respectively. 7 Viewed thus, the Irish in post-war England constituted a flow of commodified labour, a ‘replacement population’ whose function was to inhabit those segments of the division of labour hastily evacuated by Britons. Such was the view of Donal Foley, whose own migration from Kilkenny to London in 1944 would ultimately lead to a career in journalism, first on Fleet Street and later with the Irish Times : The Irish in Britain were always hewers of wood and drawers of water, and so they have remained to this day … This was much in evidence

in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England

This book draws on original research into women’s workplace protest to deliver a new account of working-class women’s political identity and participation in post-war England. In doing so, the book contributes a fresh understanding of the relationship between feminism, workplace activism and trade unionism during the years 1968–85. The study covers a period that has been identified with the ‘zenith’ of trade union militancy. The women’s liberation movement (WLM) also emerged in this period, which produced a shift in public debates about gender roles and relations in the home and the workplace. Industrial disputes involving working-class women have been commonly understood as evidence of women’s growing participation in the labour movement, and as evidence of the influence of second-wave feminism on working-class women’s political consciousness. However, the voices and experiences of female workers who engaged in workplace protest remain largely unexplored. The book addresses this space through detailed analysis of four industrial disputes that were instigated by working-class women. It shows that labour force participation was often experienced or viewed as a claim to political citizenship in late modern England. A combination of oral history and written sources is used to illuminate how everyday experiences of gender and class antagonism shaped working-class women’s political identity and participation.

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Women’s labour inside and outside the home
Angela Davis

Women in post-war England lived through a reconceptualisation of women’s work. Attitudes towards working mothers were often contradictory though. The chapter therefore uncovers the deep ambivalence which has characterised women’s attitudes towards their participation in the labour force throughout the second half of the century. It investigates how the interviewees combined paid labour and motherhood in the course of their lives and how society perceived them. It also addresses how important class and levels of education were in determining women’s attitudes towards, and experiences of, work. Both paid work and motherhood were conceived of as ways in which autonomy could be gained for women in the post-war world. Furthermore, influenced by the discourses of contemporary feminism which were influential from the 1970s, women came to speak of their desire to gain independence through work, whether this was inside or outside the home.

in Modern motherhood
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Myth, memory and minority history
Barry Hazley

mechanisms of identification’. 9 Herein, attention to the shifting relationship between cultural myth, the psychology of personal memory and the embodied experience of everyday life demonstrates the inadequacy of a unitary narrative, whether of assimilation or exclusion, as a means of grasping the complexity of the post-1945 Irish migrant experience. Where memory is often regarded as a mechanism of antagonism within the longer history of British–Irish relations, the processes of migrant memory in post-war England illuminate a complex narrative ecology, reflecting the

in Life history and the Irish migrant experience in post-war England
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Caitriona Clear

and the reasons for it. History is not a series of photographs; it is a moving picture. But to over-use ‘eventually’ and ‘in the long term’ is to wriggle out of describing life as it was experienced at various times. Life in Ireland in the seventy years covered by this book was more than an inexorable acceleration towards (and an explanation of) post-independence Ireland, north and south. The trick is to make sparing use of historical hindsight, and to bear in mind Alison Light’s comment about growing up in post-war England: [W]e didn’t think of ourselves as a class

in Social change and everyday life in Ireland 1850–1922
Space, power and governance in mid-twentieth century British cities

Reconstructing modernity assesses the character of approaches to rebuilding British cities during the decades after the Second World War. It explores the strategies of spatial governance that sought to restructure society and looks at the cast of characters who shaped these processes. It challenges traditional views of urban modernism as moderate and humanist, shedding new light on the importance of the immediate post-war for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century. The book shows how local corporations and town planners in Manchester and Hull attempted to create order and functionality through the remaking of their decrepit Victorian cities. It looks at the motivations of national and local governments in the post-war rebuilding process and explores why and how they attempted the schemes they did. What emerges is a picture of local corporations, planners and city engineers as radical reshapers of the urban environment, not through the production of grand examples of architectural modernism, but in mundane attempts to zone cities, produce greener housing estates, control advertising or regulate air quality. Their ambition to control and shape the space of their cities was an attempt to produce urban environments that might be both more orderly and functional, but also held the potential to shape society.