Maps for the National Plan

Over December I was the very fortunate recipient of a book advent calendar from my lovely wife. I could rhapsodise about some of the books but to avoid losing the reader, I'll concentrate on just one. It wasn't a hint when I retweeted Otto Saumaurez-Smith, but also it wasn't subtle: WANT https://t.co/KMKWgGPu2q — Simon Briercliffe …

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Slavery and the Black Country: collars and chains

Last week I looked at money: finance that filtered from Africa to Jamaica to Britain through the holdings of wealthy landlords such as the Earls of Dudley. This week I want to look at things: the industrial links that the Black Country had with enslavement and unfree labour. These are not easy to trace, just as …

The Black Country flag and the uses of history (again)

In 1897, Robert Sherard published a collection of his Pearson's Magazine articles documenting the exploitation and suffering of the working men and women of Britain in some of the 'sweated' trades - he visited chemical works in Widnes, white-lead works in Newcastle, nailmakers in Bromsgrove, chainmakers in Cradley Heath, and more. The title, The White Slaves of England, has …

Distance and Strangeness: the murder of Anne Spencer

I sometimes feel like I've spent the last three years trying to figure out my place within history. I still feel like there's probably a huge mountain of scholarship that I've completely missed, but in general I'm starting to work out what historiography is (I'm not a historian by background - everyone else just calls it 'the literature' …

That particular articulation of social relations which we are at the moment naming as… Doulton Brook

A break from the Irish this week. I've been mostly reading Doreen Massey this week - if you're not familiar with her she's an urban geographer of major importance, who died earlier in the year (2016 striking again). She was a radical, a feminist, an unorthodox Marxist, and one of the best at problematising what …