The Transnational as Civil Obedience

by guest author Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera

The turn toward transnational inquiry appeared revolutionary in the 1990s. But the pluralization of critical models into multi- or cross-national questions has forged only diminutive challenges to extant power structures. Indeed, the transnational is obedient to some of the principal myths of this age: that people believe in or identify with national material. Rather than transcending the slippery folklores of national idolatry and its cultures, the transnational reengages them in ways that do not intend to annul their relevance. In this way, the myth that “American” stories, narratives, and feelings inform people’s lives and cultures in a hybrid or direct way is a (if not the) fundamental presumption in the transnational turn, and it is also a fundamental weakness. Continue reading

“Coward, take my coward’s hand”: Mudbound (2017) and the legacy of Hollywood’s anti-racist returning veteran films

On a dusty, unpaved main street veteran Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) leaves the local general store serving the outpost Mississippi Delta community near his brother’s farm. Suddenly, he drops to the ground. The noise of a car backfiring has returned him to his recent combat experience as a bomber pilot. As local men eye him suspiciously, help is offered in the form of the outstretched hand of Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell). The offer draws reproach from the onlookers for its disruption of local customs and hierarchy. It is 1946 and, while Jamie is white, Ronsel is black. Continue reading

Veiled Interpretations of Du Bois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ (1903)

Du Bois’s work The Souls of Black Folk (1903) attempts to capture the quintessential twentieth century problem “of the color-line” (713), that is the problem of racial belonging and identification. In these terms, Du Bois cautiously steps within the “Veil” of his racial segregation, a capitalized term he coins to help readers visualize the obscure barrier that separates the two worlds, and attempts to decipher the subliminal fluctuations of a blackness vastly treated as a flaw. This is the exact point which Du Bois delves into in order to staple together multiple thematic concerns. Continue reading

2017 in Review: Editors’ Top Picks

2017 in review 2017 featured a number of interdisciplinary guest-edited series covering a range of issues and fields. We published Alfred Cardone (King’s College, London) series, ‘Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016’, which featured articles that took readers on a media-led tour of Trump’s election. Articles included an … Continue reading

Historians Against Slavery

International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

An over-arching theme of the conference was a trans-disciplinary approach, clearly seen in the construction of the panels. From historians to lawyers to activists, it was clear that organisers of the conference wanted to encourage research collaboration in the effort to end modern slavery. Unlike an inter-disciplinary method, a trans-disciplinary approach goes across different areas of research, not just within, to fully utilise the expertise of each field. Continue reading

Book review: Japanese American Ethnicity: In search of Heritage and Homeland across Generations by Takeyuki Tsuda

While the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is an established focus of historical study, little attention has been paid to Japanese Americans regarding their status as one of the longest-standing Asian minority groups in the US. Tsuda seeks to remedy this, and shows how historical events have influenced the perception of Japanese Americans over time. In this book he draws on first-hand accounts and his own interviews with Japanese Americans, which are helpfully synthesised to show differences both within and between each distinctive historical cohort. Continue reading

Penetrating the “Pink Wasteland”: Gender and Environmentalism in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)

More than forty years after its first publication, Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (MWG) remains a major environmentalist text. The story, in which four ecoterrorist activists use sabotage techniques to protect their beloved Western landscape from industrial and commercial interference, has inspired real life movements such as Earth First! and the Earth Liberation Front. However, the environmentalist project the novel describes is not as radical as it may appear at first sight. This article argues that MWG’s message of ecoterrorism depends on the (re)construction of a rigid gender boundary which turns the American West into a feminine entity that can only be saved through masculine interference. Continue reading

Charles J.C. Hutson and Confederate Flag Culture

Using primary sources from ‘American History 1493-1945' - an Adam Matthew collection

The letters of Charles J.C. Hutson, a former student of South Carolina College and a soldier in the First South Carolina Volunteers, provide insight on various topics pertaining to the American Civil War era. Held at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and accessible via Adam Matthew Digital’s ‘American History 1493-1945’ collection, the bulk of the materials pertain to the war period (1861-1865). Continue reading

The Importance of Sherry Receptions; or, Where Are All The Women In This Archive? First Impressions as the Cadbury Library BAAS Archive Intern

Internship at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham

n spring 2017, BAAS and the Cadbury Research Library became partners in a project to develop and promote use of the BAAS archive, held in Special Collections at the University of Birmingham. They sponsored an internship open to PGRs and ECRS to conduct a piece of research exploring gender, race and class in BAAS and British academic life. The internship also offered the opportunity for researchers to receive training in archive skills and gain experience in disseminating research to a wider public. The award was made to Sabina Peck, PhD student in U.S. history at the University of Leeds. Continue reading

Book Review: The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years by Robert M. Thorson

Most biographers have ignored Henry David Thoreau’s relationship to the river but Robert Thorson here aims to correct this narrow focus by arguing that the river – the active ever-changing water bustiling with activity both human and natural – is as much a part of Thoreau’s canon and its landscape as the still water of Walden Pond. In this book Thorson envisions Thoreau’s environment as a hybrid of land and water, and the man as a boatman as much as a woodsman. Continue reading