Karen Garvey – Writing an archive: the Bristol Black Archives Partnership

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: 24 June 2010
Bristol, UK

Karen Garvey (Bristol Record Office & Museum of Bristol)
Writing an archive: the Bristol Black Archives Partnership

The Bristol Black Archives Partnership protects and promotes the history of African-Caribbean people in Bristol. It collect archives and objects that enable people to enjoy and experience their heritage and encourage everyone to have a deeper appreciation of Bristol’s diverse history across time. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this unique partnership allows the contributions and achievements of people of African and Caribbean descent to be not only fully recognized but also preserved as a legacy for future generations. The collection of material empowers people to explore their heritage, and to share their stories for the benefit of themselves and other communities. Official launched by veteran politician Tony Benn in March 2007, the Partnership embraces African-Caribbean organisations and individuals, Bristol’s Museums, Galleries and Archives Service, Bristol’s Libraries, the University of the West of Enland and England’s Past for Everyone, H.M. Lord Lieutenant of Bristol and others. It was set up when Paul Stephenson, civil rights campaigner and first Black Honorary Freeman of the City of Bristol, placed his own personal archives with Bristol City’s Record Office for safekeeping.

Karen Garvey, Bristol Record Office & Museum of Bristol
Having studied history at Cambridge and then archival studies at Liverpool University, Karen became a professional archivist. She was appointed as the first Outreach, Inclusion and Learning Archivist for Bristol Record Office in 2004 and during this time has worked extensively with community groups. One of her main roles was Project Manager for the Bristol Black Archives Partnership, which is an alliance of community, heritage and academic organisations and individuals. She has been a board member of St Paul’s Youth Promotion, and a steering group member for Bristol’s Emancipation Day celebrations and World On Our Doorstep Festival. She is currently seconded as the Gallery Lead (Living Bristol) for Bristol’s new museum, M Shed, which launches in 2011 to tell the stories of diverse people who have shaped the city’s history across time.

——————————————————-

talk:

PLAY

 

download

——————————————————-

questions:

PLAY

 

download

——————————————————-

No Comments

Dirk J. Tang – Writings from the Dutch empire

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: June 24-­26th 2010
Bristol, UK

Dirk J. Tang – Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague, The Netherlands
Writings from the Dutch empire

In 1602, the creation of the United Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) (VOC) started a colonizing process that formally ended in 1954. That process started in the East, where Dutch entrepreneurs began to expand their trade routes by adapting them to the existing ones. Dutch trading posts could be found in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, China and Japan. In 1621 the Dutch West-India Company (West-Indische Compagnie) (WIC) was established and, as a consequence, Dutch traders started to expand their businesses also in the Western hemisphere. Parts of Brazil, parts of West Africa, Surinam, the Antilles and, not to forget, the New Netherlands in North America were now all included in this global empire.

There is one thing however that all migrants shared. They would write back and forth to their relatives or their business associates in the motherland. Thousands of personal and business letters were written and shipped. Most of them were lost. Lost either as a result of negligence, burning, recycling, war or the autonomous decay of paper. Lost till the year 1980 when a Dutch researcher stumbled, by change, upon a huge number of Dutch letters and documents. They are the so-called Prize Papers and as such part of the High Court of Admiralty Archives kept in the British National Archives in Kew.

Over the years more than a million people (Dutch and other West-Europeans) traveled to the East, many of them never to come back. Dead or alive they became part of the Dutch cultural heritage. Although the number of ships that sailed between the motherland and the Western part of the empire was considerably higher that those that sailed East in the end less people were attracted to remain in those areas.

In this paper I want to explore the possibilities that this marvelous treasure trove has already yielded to (re)-write Dutch colonial history.

Dirk J. Tang, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague, The Netherlands, email
Dirk J. Tang is a historian and works as project manager of the project Sailing Letters an initiative of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek. This project aims to conserve and digitize Dutch letters and documents now in the National Archives in Kew and make them available to Dutch and other researchers. He has written publications on Dutch colonial history, the Dutch involvement in the slave trade and 18th century Surinam.

————————————————-

talk:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————-

questions:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————-

No Comments

Freya McCracken – how Scottish emigrants letters bridged the gap with those left behind

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: 24 June 2010
Bristol, UK

Freya McCracken (University of Aberdeen) 
how Scottish emigrants letters bridged the gap with those left behind

‘From Canada to home – how Scottish emigrants letters bridged the gap with those left behind’ Emigrant letters offer a fascinating first-hand account of life in Canada in the nineteenth century. Many of the writers of these letters chose to describe people, places and events from their new lives to those who had remained in Scotland. Their authors use a variety of techniques to bring the families and friends they had left behind closer to them through their words to allow them to share in experiences without being physically present. This talk will focus on how emigrants kept up their links with home using examples of topics they thought it important to share. It aims to bring to life their experiences as they did, through their own words.

Freya McCracken, University of Aberdeen,  email
Freya McCracken completed her undergraduate and masters degrees in History at Swansea University in 2006, focussing particularly in Irish emigration in the late nineteenth century. She is now studying for a PhD in History at the University of Aberdeen, looking at the letters sent home by Scottish emigrants to Canada in the nineteenth century.

————————————————

talk:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————

questions:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————

accompanying images

No Comments

Effie Karageorgos – Loyal to the Empire? An alternative view of Australian soldiers in the South African War, 1899-1902

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: June 24-­26th 2010
Bristol, UK

Effie Karageorgos (Flinders University) 
Loyal to the Empire? An alternative view of Australian soldiers in the South African War, 1899-1902

This paper analyses the letters and diaries of common soldiers in South Africa in order to determine Australian perceptions of the British Empire from ‘below’. The lower to lower-middle classes – those who, incidentally, sent their brothers and sons to the war effort – are generally credited with unwavering enthusiasm throughout the war. Indeed, traditional responses attributed to Australians upon the outbreak of the South African War in 1899 depict the majority of the population as eager supporters of involvement. Such views have conventionally been based on the words of prevailing authorities of the time, including parliamentary majorities and the commercial press. Opposition is recognised by past historians who have examined public attitudes toward the war, but label it the product of middle to upper class minorities, represented by anti-war groups, as well as editors and owners of the less popular press. However, these views are ill-founded, as in-depth studies into the war based on solid evidence of attitudes from ‘below’ have not yet been carried out. This is due to the relative absence of such sources. Lower-class Australians either neglected to record their daily thoughts in writing, or simply could not. In addition, the atmosphere in Australia before and during the war emphasised ‘loyalty’, censuring those who failed to display their commitment to the British Empire, and silencing those who disagreed. Even Federationists identified the British Empire as a mostly separate, but essential, element of the ‘new’ Australia, labelling its citizens ‘Independent Australian Britons’.

As evidence of approval, past scholarship on grass-roots attitudes to the war and the role of the British Empire concentrates on early stages of the war, when overwhelming crowds farewelled troops leaving for South Africa or raised money for soldier contingents. Less publicised are Australian scenes from the later years, when indifference marked a general public more concerned with domestic matters. Despite this relative apathy, Australian men continued to volunteer throughout the entire war. Since the majority of enlisted men came from the lower to lower-middle classes, this suggests that traditional views on lower-class ‘home front’ opinion are correct, and soldiers faithfully went to war as loyal British subjects. However, an examination of archived soldiers’ letters and diaries reveals a much broader attitudinal basis for enlistment. This indicates that previous research into attitudes toward the South African war pays insufficient attention to the reactions of common soldiers, whereas ‘scribblings from below’ suggest a more complex view.

Effie Karageorgos, Flinders University,  email
Effie’s research background is in Modern History, particularly the history of warfare from the nineteenth century, focussing particularly on the media in war, as well as the behaviour and attitudes of fighting soldiers. She is particularly interested in the Vietnam, second South African and French-Algerian wars. Her interest in the Vietnam War in particular, as well as the second South African war, has prompted her PhD thesis topic. Concentrating on the behaviour and attitudes of Australian soldiers in these wars, found in archived letters and diaries, Effie is using current theories on soldiering to re-evaluate the expressed opinions of common Australian soldiers on the front line. In this way, she is discovering links between home and battle front opinion, and the influence of the government and military on these viewpoints. She is currently in the latter stages of writing. From 2007- January 2009 Effie served as the History Editor for the Flinders Journal of History and Politics, and now remains a consultative editor.

————————————————-

talk:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————-

questions:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————-

No Comments

Jonathan Hyslop – Zulu Seafarers in the Age of Steam: The Voyage Narratives of George Magodini and Fulunge Mpofu 1916-1924

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: 24 June 2010
Bristol, UK

Jonathan Hyslop (University of the Witwatersrand)
Zulu Seafarers in the Age of Steam: The Voyage Narratives of George Magodini and Fulunge Mpofu 1916-1924

In the early 1920s, James Stuart, formerly an important Natal administrator and notable historian of Zululand, then living in London, transcribed the voyage narratives of two Zulu-speaking men working as stokers on steamships, George Magodini and Fulunge Mpofu. Magodini’s testimony was published in one of the Zulu school readers edited by Stuart, while Mpofu’s testimony exists only in Stuart’s notebooks.

As a potential source for the history of South Africans at sea, these are exciting texts. The history of South African sailors remains largely unwritten and there is little awareness amongst the social historians of the country that African people played a role as ocean-going seafarers.

Magodini’s voyages largely took place during World War One, and his text provides remarkable accounts of convoys facing submarine attacks in the Atlantic. More importantly though, the two texts provide access to the social world of these sailors. Their accounts of ship-board life, their responses to different cities, their experience of unemployment in UK ports and the semi-criminalised world of sailors’ boarding houses will be analysed. Especially fascinating is the racial discourse of the two sailors. Complex paternalistic relations between white officers and black sailors emerge, while the two men experience extremely authoritarian treatment in British ports. There is a considerable amount of material on Somali sailors, who are regarded with a certain detached curiosity. On the other hand the Zulu sailors are deeply hostile to Asian seafarers who they characterize as undercutting them by working for lower wages. The logics of these racial constructions will be analysed in detail.

Of course the ‘reliability’ of these texts is highly problematic. There must be an assumption that the power relations between Stuart and his interviewees shaped them. But this clearly did not work in any simple way: for example Mpofu provided Stuart with detailed information about his buying and circulating illegal drugs in European ports, which suggests a high level of trust. And the texts do not seem to fit in any obvious way into Stuart’s project of developing a highly traditionalist view of Zulu history. The modernity of these narratives in fact goes rather against the grain of Stuart’s work, which suggests that his curiosity and industry as a researcher to some extent counter-weighted his ideological agendas.

The paper will seek to probe what the texts can tell us about the way in which sailors constructed their world. Using the texts in combination with archival and secondary sources it will investigate what Magodini and Mpofu add to our knowledge of the world of the social order of the steamship and how our view of Zulu workers in the early twentieth century might be changed by their stories.

Jonathan Hyslop, University of the Witwatersrand, email
Jonathan Hyslop is Professor of Sociology and History at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He is also Deputy Director of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER). Hyslop has published widely on South African social history and on transnational approaches to British Empire history.

———————————————

talk:

PLAY

 

download

———————————————

questions:

PLAY

 

download

———————————————

No Comments

Isaac Land – Patriotic Performances: Naval Veterans on (and off) the Street in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: June 24-­26th 2010
Bristol, UK

Isaac Land (Indiana State University)
Patriotic Performances: Naval Veterans on (and off) the Street in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain

My paper discusses autobiographical texts by Royal Navy veterans (such as John Nicol’s Life and Adventures, first published in Edinburgh in 1824) as well as the performances of vagrants and mendicants who also presented themselves as sailors in distress in the years following the abrupt demobilization of 1815.

The existence of starving or otherwise desperate veterans was, itself, a sign that the government had not delivered on its promises. The Navy liked to boast about how well “superannuated” (elderly) or disabled sailors were cared for in the palatial surroundings of Greenwich Hospital. In fact, gaining admittance to Greenwich Hospital was not easy. John Nicol found himself walking the streets of London from one government building to another, at each turn informed that he lacked the proper paperwork or was inquiring at the wrong office. Instead of being ushered into a “safe berth,” this veteran of both the American and French wars ran out of money and was forced to return to Scotland, where he wrote his autobiography.

Nicol’s success in finding a publisher was relatively rare. However, many beggars identified themselves as sailors in this same period, and their improvised placards, songs, and oral narratives also deserve our attention. Some used props to make their point, such as Joseph Johnson, the peg-legged African-American ballad singer with a model ship on his head. I discussed Johnson in my article “Bread and Arsenic,” but in this paper I explore other performance strategies, notably that of Charles McGee, a Jamaican who laid claim to one particular spot in Ludgate Circus, within sight of St. Paul’s Cathedral. As a street sweeper, McGee found a way to make a living while demonstrating his extraordinary stamina, becoming a fixture of this busy intersection at the heart of the capital over a period of decades.

While all of these individuals articulated a claim on the public’s attention and affections, their performance of indigence also presented a very public reproach to the British government. Through their performances, these sailors also positioned themselves among the early historians of the Napoleonic Wars, fighting to communicate a common seaman’s view of the wars, their consequences, and their human impact.

Isaac Land, Indiana State University email
Isaac Land is an Assistant Professor of History at Indiana State University. He has written War, Nationalism, and the British Sailor, 1750-1850 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) as well as a number of articles and book chapters placing sailors in a larger social and cultural context. He edited Enemies of Humanity: The Nineteenth-Century War on Terrorism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and a special issue of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, ‘New Approaches to the Founding of Sierra Leone’.

——————————————————

talk:

PLAY

 

download

——————————————————

questions:

PLAY

 

download

——————————————————

No Comments

Ellen Gill – Press Gangs and Petitions

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: June 24-­26th 2010
Bristol, UK

Ellen Gill (University of Sydney) – Press Gangs and Petitions

James Whitworth was a reluctant seaman in the late Georgian navy.  His unhappy letters to his wife appear to fit into the narrative of an impressed sailor, forcibly stripped of personal freedom and entered into the service. But this was not the case, Whitworth was a volunteer.  This then prompts the question; how voluntary was volunteering?
Of the first few months of his service we have no record other than his name in the pay book, but by the end of 1811, his name appears in the ships log as having been flogged.  From February to November 1812, his letters home to his wife, Elizabeth, reveal a desperately unhappy man, tormented by the service, his ‘ill usage’ on board the ship and his prolonged absence from his much loved family. His letters are full of the language of imprisonment and desperation and he describes his service as ‘cruel bondage’.  ‘Ill usage’ is an important consideration in coming to understand the nature of Whitworth’s service, as from August 1811 Portia had a new captain, which for 50 of the 86 men on board, meant at least one trip to the gratings for flogging. Whitworth was not a ‘jolly Jack Tar’.  He did not see his service as a patriotic or nationalistic duty. Nor did he feel that he had a duty to the navy; and indeed provided with the opportunity, he deserted.  It was with his family, not his nation or the navy that Whitworth’s duty lay.  Under what circumstances then, did he volunteer; and where did reluctant, unhappy sailors such as Whitworth fit into the grand narrative of naval service?
This paper will seek to address the nature of volunteering for the Royal Navy, considering it against a back drop of impressment.  It will examine the place of the reluctant volunteer as well as the role and importance of family in the cultural and social narrative of the Georgian sailor.

Ellen Gill, University of Sydney, email
Ellen Gill is currently completing her PhD in the History Department at the University of Sydney, Australia. The title of her thesis is ‘Devoting the pen to her service: Family, war and duty in Britain and Ireland, 1740-1820′.

——————————————

talk:

PLAY

 

download

——————————————

questions:

PLAY

 

download

——————————————

No Comments

Marilyn Lake – Chinese colonists writing their rights

in Academic Service - Archive by on June 24th, 2010

Writing the Empire: Scribblings from Below

An international & interdisciplinary conference

Phillipe de Vigors, ‘Convicts letter writing at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, 1849’
Reproduced by kind permission of the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

 

Event Dates: June 24-­26th 2010
Bristol, UK

Marilyn LakeChinese colonists writing their rights

I propose to present a paper on the ways in which Chinese colonists responded to racial discrimination and persecution in nineteenth century Victoria by writing in a range of political genres: papers, petitions, remonstrances, books and letters. Too often Chinese colonists are treated historiographically as silent and inarticulate victims. In fact, they drew upon a range of available discursive resources – Christianity, Confucianism, Jefferson and Vattel – to construct a novel case for imperial recognition of racial equality as a ‘human right’ and they were among the first in the world to make this claim. In presenting this paper, I suggest that we move in analytical terms beyond the binaries that often inform imperial history – between colonized and colonizer, metropole and periphery, between Indigenous and settler and beyond a conception of the British empire as autonomous and self-contained. By adopting a more cosmopolitan historical practice I suggest we are able to see empires in the plural – British and Chinese in this case – engaged in discursive interaction through writings that produce texts that might be understood, in Antoinette Burton’s words, as imperial co-productions.

Marilyn Lake, La Trobe University,  email.  
Marilyn Lake is Professor in History and Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Her most recent book is Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge to Racial Equality, co-authored with Henry Reynolds and co-published in 2008 by Cambridge University Press and Melbourne University Press. It won the Queensland Premier’s Prize for History and the Ernest Scott Prize for the best book in Australian, New Zealand and Colonization history. She is currently working on new histories of human rights, cosmopolitanism and transnational politics.

————————————————-

talk:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————-

questions:

PLAY

 

download

————————————————-

No Comments