Making Social Movements

CFP: conference in Ormskirk, UK

Making Social Movements: The British Marxist Historians and the study of social movements

First Call for Papers

June 26-28, 2002, Edge Hill College of Higher Education, England

Conference sponsors:
Social Movements Research Group, London Socialist Historians Group, Historical Materialism

Confirmed Speakers:
Brian Manning, author The English People and the English Revolution; Bryan D Palmer, author E.P. Thompson: Objections and Oppositions; Ellen Wood, author Democracy Against Capitalism

How might the extraordinary body of historical writing produced by the ‘British Marxist historians’ - Edward Thompson, Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton, Eric Hobsbawm, Victor Kiernan, Dona Torr, John Saville, Dorothy Thompson, George Rudé - enable scholars and activists to better understand the making of social movements? This is a timely moment to examine their legacy. Many social movement scholars are pushing beyond the static ‘models’ drawn from rational-choice theory and the crude and reductive ‘new movement’/’old movement’ dichotomies developed by European social theory. This can be seen as part of a wider ‘historic turn in the human sciences’. What can social movement scholars and activists learn from a critical engagement with the historiography of movement and protest in the writings of the British Marxist historians? And from the theoretical and conceptual innovations developed through their history writing? What might be learnt from the sensibility and style of the British Marxist historians, from their ‘committed’ social and political relation to their subject, to their writing of history ‘from the bottom up’? And what can social movement studies, now in an exciting period of sustained growth, connected to the rebirth of popular protest, and a locus for fruitful academic-activist dialogue, bring to this exchange?

We invite proposals for papers, which explore any aspect of the legacy of the British Marxist historians for the study of popular protest and social movements. Themes include theorising social movements, class, gender and movement, the cultural and moral mediation of protest and movement, agency and the individual-in-the-movement, ideology, discourse and the study of social movements, the ‘people’ and protest, protest as ethic, revolutions and social movements, the ‘primitive rebel’, using sources to study social movements, literature and protest.

For further conference details, a background paper on 'The new agenda in social movement studies and the British Marxist historians', to send a proposal for a conference paper (400 words), and booking forms, e-mail the conference organiser, Alan Johnson, Edge Hill College of Higher Education, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire, L394QP.

Conference Organising Committee:
Alan Johnson, Social Movements Research Group and Historical Materialism; Matthew Beaumont, Research Fellow and Tutor, Keble College, Oxford University, and Historical Materialism; Keith Flett, London Socialist Historians Group.

Posted: 4 April 2001