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28Jul2019

CONFERENCE IN AMSTERDAM IN SEPTEMBER

I am giving a paper at the 3rd Congress of the European Labour History Network (ELHN), which is being held from 19 – 22 September 2019, in Amsterdam at the International Institute of Social History (IISH).

My paper will be part of the ‘Labour & Empire’ working group, which is titled How Class Worked in the Age of Empire. Comparative and Transnational Perspectives. It’ll be in a round-table session on Friday 20 September, at 09:00, called Knowing and Not-Knowing, which is also the title of my paper.

IMAGE CREDIT: SMOKE 16. CINESTOCK BY BY MITCH MARTINEZ  / VIMEO.COM/72058198.

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08Jul2019

BRITISH LIBRARY EXHIBITION IN 2020

Next year, the British Library is staging an exhibition called Dreams and Demands: Women’s Rights, Women’s Lives. It will be a major national exploration of women’s fight for equality over the last 150 years.  It tells the story of a women’s fight for legal rights in the UK as well as the right to pleasure, self-expression and a fully realised life. The exhibition will also highlight contemporary campaigns for equality.

There will also be an accompanying illustrated exhibition book to be published in spring 2020. I have been asked to write the chapter on men’s relationship to, and sometimes support of, women’s rights. The exhibition book will appear in April 2020, when the exhibition opens.

IMAGE CREDIT: HELP US WIN THE VOTE (1914). (GEORGE GRANTHAM BAIN COLLECTION, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION, WASHINGTON D.C. 20540 USA)

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06Jun2019

MY NEW BOOK IS OUT THIS SUMMER

My new book, Other People’s Struggles: Outsiders in Social Movements will be coming out this summer. It’s being published by Oxford University Press, and the publication date is 27 June in the United States of America and 5 September in the U.K.

“The distinction between conscience and beneficiary constituents has been well known to social movement scholars since McCarthy and Zald first proposed it nearly 50 years ago.  But until now no one has ever moved much beyond the distinction to tell us why we should care about it.  With Other People’s Struggles, Nicholas Owen has done just that, offering a compelling theory of the variable presence of ‘outsiders’ in movements and the impact they have on those struggles.”

Doug McAdam

Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology, Stanford University.

More details here

 

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20May2019

2019 STUDENT TEACHING AWARDS

I’ve been nominated for the Oxford University Student Union teaching awards, in the category of ‘outstanding tutor’.  The Student Union teaching awards ‘recognize the teachers, tutors, and staff who make a positive difference to students’ experience and lives while at Oxford’.  My colleagues at Queen’s, Amy Orben and Andrew Schuman were also nominated.  More information here.

IMAGE CREDIT: DAVID OLDS.  

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10May2019

MY ARTICLE ON DEMOCRATIZATION AND EMPIRE

My article on Democratization and the British Empire has been accepted by the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History.  It will appear in a special number of the journal in honour of the global and imperial historian John Darwin, who supervised my doctorate at Nuffield College, Oxford.

The article tries to connect the political science literature on democratization, and especially its startling finding that British imperialism is positively correlated with post-independence democratic survival, and historians’ work on empire, which is often sceptical about the degree to which the British Empire was serious about democracy.  The special number of the journal is expected to appear in 2020.

IMAGE CREDIT: HERBERT BAKER, ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING OF THE INDIAN LEGISLATIVE BUILDING (INK AND OIL PAINT ON CLOTH, 1921), PART OF EDWIN LUTYENS’ AND HERBERT BAKER’S DESIGNS FOR IMPERIAL DELHI (NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART, BENGALARU).

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04May2019

GANDHI AND THE CORRESPONDENCE THEORY OF TRUTH

A chapter based on a paper I gave at a conference on the Philosophical Letter will be appearing in a book later this year.  It’s called ‘Gandhi and the Correspondence Theory of Truth’, and the book is called Dear Friend, You Must Change Your Life: The Letters of Great Thinkers.  It’s edited by Ada Bronowski, and published by Bloomsbury.

IMAGE CREDIT:  GANDHI COMPOSING A LETTER ON HIS WAY FROM INDIA TO THE SECOND ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE IN LONDON  (PRESS PHOTOGRAPH, 1931).

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17Apr2019

CHAPTER ON COMMUNIST ANTI-IMPERIALISM

I have a chapter in a forthcoming book on imperialism, decolonization and the British working classes.  The book is called Labour, Empire and Decolonization: British Imperial and Commonwealth Experiences and it’s edited by Neville Kirk and Yann Béliard, conventor of the ‘Labour and Empire’ group of the European Labour History Network.  My chapter is called ‘Alliances from above and below: the failures and successes of Communist anti-imperialism in India, 1920-34’.

IMAGE CREDIT:  PHOTOGRAPH OF THE MEERUT PRISONERS  FROM B.F. BRADLEY, TRADE UNIONISM IN INDIA (LONDON, ?1932).

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07Nov2018

WHAT THE WOMEN WROTE

WHAT THE WOMEN WROTE

In another post, I wrote about the New Liberal men’s views of women’s suffrage and the other questions that women had raised, going ‘beyond the vote’, concerning issues such as marriage, maternity and women’s careers. It was called ‘What the men wrote and what they did not’. Both posts are part of my research project The Personal and the Political .

Part of the project is the recovery of what certain women wrote on the same questions. In particular, I focus on the writings of women close to the New Liberal men. One or two figures are already known, but most are not. To give some examples: Margaret Nevinson (wife of Henry Nevinson) wrote short stories for the suffrage press as well as a play. Henry Nevinson’s second wife, Evelyn Sharp edited the W.S.P.U. newspaper Votes for Women and was also a writer of short stories for children and adults. Brailsford’s wife, Jane Malloch, wrote letters to the press and a short story for Ford Madox Ford’s English Review. Graham Wallas’s wife Ada Wallas wrote short stories for magazines including The Yellow Book, as well as women’s history and an autobiography. Lucy Masterman wrote poetry. Florence Hobson wrote and published short stories. As well as the economic and social history she wrote with her husband John, Barbara Hammond wrote an unpublished novel.

The women’s writing can be contrasted with that of the men. The most obvious point is that the men wrote articles in The Nation and the women did not. The women were not part of what Hobhouse termed the ‘apostolic succession’ of Liberal men whose task it was to reinterpret liberalism in each generation.

 [···]

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30Oct2018

WHAT THE MEN WROTE
AND WHAT THEY DID NOT

WHAT THE MEN WROTE

(AND WHAT THEY DID NOT)

One part of my research project The Personal and the Political concerns the New Liberals in Britain before the First World War, and especially their views on women’s suffrage and the various other questions that women posed ‘beyond the vote’.

Their views were surprisingly diverse. I focus on the Nation group, the writers, journalists, MPs and academics who grouped themselves around H.W.Massingham’s New Liberal periodical, meeting each week in the National Liberal Club. The group was deeply divided over the principle of women’s suffrage and even those in favour were mostly opposed to militant women’s suffragists’ demands for immediate legislation.

The men were also divided over questions ‘beyond the vote’. There is quite a lot in The Nation concerning new feminist perspectives on marriage, parenting, domestic living and the family, especially a series of critical short articles written by the New Liberal political economist J.A.Hobson. There are also writings on the subject by L.T.Hobhouse, Gilbert Murray and others. Yet this body of work is almost wholly unknown.

Furthermore, and importantly, no acknowledgment is made in New Liberals’ writings about their own, personal experiences of marriage, parenting, domestic living and family. This is true not only in the articles they wrote, but even in their autobiographies.

 [···]

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30Oct2018

WHAT ARE CONJOINTNESS AND DISJOINTNESS?

Disjointness and conjointness are terms I use frequently in my book Other People’s Struggles.  They can be applied to relationships, motivations, social norms and the approaches used by social movements in their work.

If a relationship is disjoint, then A (an actor) does something to or for B (another actor) which B does not do for A.  If a relationship is conjoint, A does something to or for B which B does for A (e.g. in return).  There is also a a third possibility, which I call reflexive (or self-reliant), in which B does something to or for herself, without A‘s involvement.   These three basic possibilities are illustrated above.

Of course, it is also possible to imagine more complex arrangements in which, say, A does something to or for B, who in turn does something to or for C, who in turn does something to or for B, but not A.  These can be analysed using the three basic possibilities: A is in a disjoint relationship with B and B is in a conjoint relationship with C.

In Other People’s Struggles, I use these terms to contrast three types of work that people do in social movements:

(1) disjoint work (what we do to or for others),

(2) conjoint work (what we do to or for each other), and

(3) reflexive or self-reliant work (what we each do to or for ourselves)

These types of work operate in quite different ways.  People engaged in conjoint work – like, say, members of a disadvantaged group seeking advancement by working for each other – will operate very differently to people engaged in disjoint work, even if their objective – the advancement of the disadvantaged group – is the same.

Furthermore, if a social movement engages both in conjoint and disjoint work, then tensions may arise, especially if the work is also ambitious.

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