Competition between Profit and Principles: The ‘Natural’ Market Niche in 1980s Britain

Below are findings that are part of my research for my doctoral thesis on the entanglement of commercial business and moral responsibility in the 1970s and 1980s. My access to archives across England, and specifically London, was made possible by the opportunity to stay at the German Historical Institute London in July and August 2023. In particular, the Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive in Nottingham and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London provided me with relevant sources.

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Trial and Error: The Federal Republic of Germany’s Failed First National Day of Remembrance and Where to Go from There

On 7 September 1950, the improvised West German parliamentary building—the Bundeshaus in Bonn—was packed with people. The Federal Chancellor with his cabinet, the majority of both chambers of parliament, as well as a significant number of honorary guests from high society had come together for the first ‘National Day of Remembrance of the German People’ (Nationaler Gedenktag des deutschen Volkes). Even the Allied High Commissioners were there.1

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  1. See C. E. L., ‘Ein Tag wie jeder andere’, Die Zeit, 7 Sept. 1950, at [https://www.zeit.de/1950/36/ein-tag-wie-jeder-andere], accessed 12 June 2023. []

All Along the Peace Walls – Revisiting 1960s and 1970s Belfast

I had the absolute pleasure of spending a day exploring Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast with Kevin McGlinchey in June 2022.1 Kevin replied to my letter to the editor of the Irish Independent seeking people to share their experiences of growing up on the island of Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s for my Ph.D. project. He instantly agreed to take me on a trip down memory lane, as he ‘valued the opportunity to bring to life an historical, personal, local and community experience of this particular area of Belfast and Belfast as a whole during both good and bad times.’2 Kevin was born in 1950 and grew up in Belfast, where he witnessed the beginning of the Troubles as a teenager.3

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  1. I sincerely thank Kevin and his sister Deirdre McGlinchey for their time and willingness to share their youth experiences with me, without which my research would not be possible. I am also grateful to Dr Séan Ó Duibhir for valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article. []
  2. Kevin McGlinchey, email to the author, 3 Nov. 2022. []
  3. ‘The Troubles’ is a euphemism for the Northern Ireland conflict, which lasted from the late 1960s to the 1980s. The Troubles are often considered to be a religious conflict between the Catholic and Protestant populations of Northern Ireland, but were in fact caused by Ireland’s colonial past, which was marked by political and confessional frictions. ‘[T]he Northern Irish conflict is not a religious conflict . . . Although religion has a place—and indeed an important one—in the repertoire of conflict in Northern Ireland, the majority of participants see the situation as primarily concerned with matters of politics and nationalism, not religion.’ Richard Jenkins, Rethinking Ethnicity: Arguments and Explorations (London, 1997), 120. A summary of this view can be found in Claire Mitchell, Religion, Identity and Politics in Northern Ireland: Boundaries of Belonging and Belief (Aldershot, 2006), 5: ‘The central argument is that religion is an ethnic marker, but that it is not generally politically relevant in and of itself. Instead, ethnonationalism lies at the root of the conflict.’ For more background to the conflict, see CAIN Archive: Conflict and Politics in Northern Ireland, accessed 20 Feb. 2023. []

Women’s Centres and their Newsletters: Feminist Spaces and Print Cultures in Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom

In April confusion reigned due to the last issue of Sisterhood thinking that the first Wednesday in April fell on the 8th rather than the 1st (Tut tut sack the proof readers I say). In the end we had two meetings but the discussion on Sexism and Education remained on the 8th. As a result of the confusion only 7 women attended.1

Taking place at the Cleveland women’s centre in Yorkshire, this seemingly benign communication mishap among the group producing the centre’s newsletter, Sisterhood, managed to leave the centre in disarray. In the end, the programme announced in the newsletter prevailed despite the organizers’ initial plans, illustrating just how central a role local newsletters could play in the basic functioning of key structures of local feminist scenes.

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  1. Sisterhood: Cleveland Womens Centre Newsletter, 3 (May 1981). []

Conference Report: The History of Medialization and Empowerment: The Intersection of Women’s Rights Activism and the Media, 20–21 January 2022

The third and final meeting of the International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment was held virtually on January 20 and 21, 2022. At the end of a three-year project, looking at the interconnections, contingencies, and dependencies of women’s rights and the media throughout the long-twentieth century, the conference explored the role of the media in shaping and constituting discussions of gender roles and women’s rights globally. Convened by Christina von Hodenberg and Jane Freeland (London), it is 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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Imagining a Transnational and Transhistorical Movement Against Violence

As a college student in the U.S. in the 1980s, I first became aware of Take Back the Night. In countless cities, towns, and campuses across the U.S., feminist organizations coordinated these annual events to protest violence against women. Participants—typically women (and often intentionally and exclusively women)—gathered for night-time marches and rallies to speak out against rape and other forms of sexual assault and to assert that women should have the right to occupy public spaces and travel at night without fear.

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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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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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Racism and Historiography

This text by Christina Morina and Norbert Frei was first published, in German, on the L.I.S.A. blog of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. It was translated by Jenny Price.

Where are you from. Here we go again, I thought, and answered: Tricky question! It depends on what you mean by where. The geographic location of the hillside on which the maternity ward stood? The national borders at the time of the last contractions? My parents’ background? Genes, ancestors, dialect? Whichever way you look at it, your origin is a construct! A kind of costume that you are forced to wear for the rest of your days once it has been fitted. And thus a curse! Or, with a bit of luck, a fortune, derived not from talent but adorned with benefits and privileges.

Saša Stanišić, Herkunft (2019)

At the end of the day, the shelf life of a text on contemporary history, especially one that intervenes in current affairs, depends on the pace at which present events unfold and respond to it.

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History is Located Inside, not Outside Racial Biases – Can Historians in Germany Break the Silence after Black Lives Matter? (Part 2)

In last week’s blog post, we addressed recent calls for equity and structural change in historical disciplines by looking inwards, in a moment of self-reflection. But what practical steps can we take to transform our field into a more inclusive environment—one in which not only scholars with privileged backgrounds can pursue a career? How can we address discrimination, diversity, and inclusion beyond tokenistic statements and designated research areas? What would a commitment to anti-racism look like if we were to spell out a concrete action plan, as colleagues have done in the UK?

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