Days of Betrayal: Violations of Trust and Loyalty in Late Medieval England

Tensions have been running high in what, by any reckoning, has been a challenging year: a raging pandemic, social instability, and political unrest.1 And amidst all this, battle cries are heard from every corner of the political spectrum that threaten to exacerbate the situation: Plotters! Betrayers! Traitors!—the world is full of them if you believe what is written in the comment sections of media outlets.

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  1. I would like to thank the German Historical Institute London for supporting my research despite the adverse circumstances, and for giving me the chance to take part in the Institute’s always lively and constructive doctoral colloquium, which helped me to come to a better understanding of my subject and source material. []

Knowledge Trouble – Practice, Theory and Anxiety in late 1970s Feminist Movements

The British Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) of the late 1970s was marked by intense anxiety and discussion about the status of ‘theory’. At their last national conference held in Birmingham in 1978, the WLM buckled under the weight of a decade of collectively generated, epistemic and ideological complexity, cut across by social divisions of race, sexuality and class. In the aftermath, a radical feminist day workshop was held at the White Lion Free School, London, in April 1979, partly ‘out of a sense of desperation at feeling that none of the most evident and vocal factions at the plenary represented the politics of very many women in Women’s Liberation.’1 The meeting was also an occasion to unpick the movement’s ideological and, increasingly theoretical, density.

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  1. ‘We are the Feminists that Women Have Warned Us About:* Introductory Paper’, in Feminist Practice: Notes from the Tenth Year! (Theoretically Speaking) (London, 1979), 1–4, at 1. []

Beyond Heroes and Villains: Reassessing Racism in the German Enlightenment

In post-1945 German culture the Enlightenment has generally been a source of celebration. Since at least the publication of Dialektik der Aufklärung (1947), however, intellectuals have considered the possibility that Enlightenment philosophy may have contributed to twentieth-century totalitarianism.

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Conference Report: ‘Archiving, Recording and Representing Feminism: The Global History of Women’s Emancipation in the Twentieth Century’

The second meeting of the International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment was held virtually between December 10 and 12, 2020. Bringing together 29 scholars from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America, the conference examined the theme of “Archiving, Recording and Representing Feminism: The Global History of Women’s Emancipation in the Twentieth Century.” Drawing from an interdisciplinary methodology, it explored how processes of narrrativization and the cataloguing of knowledge, whether in the media, the archive or in historical practice, have shaped the development and understandings of women’s emancipation. Convened by Christina von Hodenberg and Jane Freeland (GHI London), alongside partners at the Max Weber Stiftung India Branch Office, the German Historical Institute Washington, D.C., the German Historical Institute Rome and the Orient Institute Beirut, the conference forms part of the international research project “Knowledge Unbound: Internationalization, Networking, Innovation in and by the Max Weber Stiftung” and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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Broken Symbols: Display and Destruction during the Attack on the Capitol

Almost two weeks later, recordings and photographs of the attack on the Capitol are still making newspaper headlines, flicker across screens, and fill the feeds on social media. Countless commentators described the attack as an extraordinary event in the history of the United States. Joe Biden called it ‘unprecedented’; The New York Times described it as a threat to ‘the heart of American democracy’. But the shock and anger in response to the attack were not just fuelled by its attempt to interfere with the election of a new president or the fact that several people died as a result. They were also fuelled by acts of destruction, which were chronicled and communicated by observers and actors alike. As Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer deplored:

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An Ancient Church Father and his Victorian Audience: Christian von Bunsen’s Unusual Work on Hippolytus of Rome and its Influence on Nineteenth-Century Debates

[T]he amiable curates were politely requested to dribble out a few drops from the full fountain of their patristic lore, that poor benighted Farmer Giles in his chimney-corner might read, for the first time in his life, the talismanic name of Hippolytus.1

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  1. [Anon.], ʻHippolytus and his Ageʼ, The Eclectic Review, 8 (1854), 690–8, at 690. []

The Allure of the Archive: On Frustration and Comfort in the Historian’s Craft

As an historian of gender-based violence, I’ve often come across things in my archival research that have made me feel uncomfortable, disgusted, upset and so frustrated that I want to tear my hair out. I’ve also read files that have made me laugh, smile and left me feeling deeply proud and grateful to the women who fought to entrench women’s rights and protect women from violence. For me, the archive represents a host of emotional and physical responses. The memories of back aches from long days spent sitting, of drinking terrible (but cheap) machine coffee and the small pleasure that after months of daily visits, the archivists finally remember me as ‘Frau Freeland.’

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National Education Policy 2020: A Discussion on Educational Policy Reform in India, 14 October 2020

The year 2020 has posed unprecedented challenges for educators all over the world. In India, the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis have laid bare the structural inequalities entrenched in all levels of education. Students and teachers have been struggling to cope with the enormous digital divide in a predominantly poor country as teaching was moved online; many teachers and other workers in the private education sector have lost their jobs; severe economic hardship of the migrants, who were forced to leave big cities after a countrywide lockdown, has resulted in an escalation of the number of school and college drop-outs.

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Medieval Notions of Consent and Contemporary Social Cohesion: Impressions from Workshop ‘Law and Consent in Medieval Britain’, 30 October 2020

On Monday, 2 November 2020, a video posted on Twitter showed the owner of a soft play centre from Liverpool rejecting COVID-19 regulations, citing Clause 61 of Magna Carta. This historical agreement between the English king and his magnates was first concluded in 1215. In the owner’s opinion, the police had no right to close his business since—he argued—the medieval document showed that government authorities were bound by law and had to be resisted if they encroached on central personal liberties. This claim immediately provoked reactions from historians of the Middle Ages, who rightly pointed out that although parts of Magna Carta are, indeed, still part of English Law today, Clause 61 is no longer in force. In fact, it was removed in 1216, when the agreement was revised after King John’s death.

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The Media, Feminism and Women’s Emancipation: The International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment

In late 2017, #MeToo began trending on Twitter. Taken up in response to growing allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood, it quickly became a tangible way for women to show the pervasive nature of gender-based violence and harassment. #MeToo sparked a movement and global reckoning with gender inequality and revealed the mass mobilizing power of social media.

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