Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer 2011 issue of the Journal of Social History

The Summer 2011 issue of the Journal of Social History is now available. According to the introduction, by Chris Healy (University of Melbourne) and Maria Tumarkin (independent scholar), this special issue on Social Memory and Historical Justice "brings together a series of papers that explore how different societies and groups seek to account for the legacies of violent, shameful or criminal pasts." Full content is available only to subscribers, but the TOC and article abstracts are available online at Project Muse.

Here are a handful of articles that caught my eye:

Emilio Crenzel (National Council of Scientific Research (CONICET) and University of Buenos Aires), "Between the Voices of the State and the Human Rights Movement: Never Again and the Memories of the Disappeared in Argentina."
In December 1983, Argentine President Raúl Alfonsín created the "National Commission on the Disappeared" (CONADEP). The Commission investigated the fates of those who disappeared under the political repression in the country in the 70's. In 1984, the Commission published a report, Nunca Más (Never Again), in which it established that 8,960 persons, most of them left-wing political activists, had been disappeared. More than half a million copies of this report have been sold from 1984 to 2010. It has been translated into several languages, became an influential model for other reports developed by "Truth Commissions" in Latin America about human rights violations committed by dictatorships in the continent and had strong impact in the field of transitional justice policies.
In this article, I analyze the narrative strategies of this report, paying particular attention to the categorization of historical actors that were involved in this violent past. I examine how the narrative of the report differs from other narratives offered by the State or by civil society about the period of political violence under the dictatorship and I explore how the report has had a long-lasting impact on how people in Argentina have conceptualized and remembered political violence under the dictatorship.
Jo McCormack (University of Sunderland), "Social Memories in (Post)Colonial France: Remembering the Franco-Algerian War."
This article examines social memories in France over the last 10 years. There has been a significant amount of 'memory work' during this period, concerning various aspects of French history, including the World Wars, but predominantly postcolonial issues: the Algerian War, the legacy of slavery, memories of Empire and memories of Immigration in particular. The 'devoir de mémoire' (duty to remember) and 'work of memory' (Paul Ricoeur) have taken on greater, and controversial, proportions. While President Jacques Chirac was for some the 'président du devoir de mémoire' (President who championed the duty to remember), President Nicolas Sarkozy seems intent on ending what he sees as the trend towards 'repentance'. After a discussion of the wider memory culture in France, this article focuses on collective and social memories of the Franco-Algerian War (1954-62) Through an analysis of various 'vectors of memory' (Henry Rousso) it argues that the recent upsurge in 'memory work' in France is very much anchored in the present postcolonial social context in France. That memory work is however largely symbolic and in some ways unsatisfactory. It shows that much of the recent work of memory has been only belatedly and partially undertaken by the State, and with civil society in some ways yet to follow.
Peter Scholliers (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, History) and Patricia Van den Eeckhout (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Political Sciences), "Hearing the Consumer? The Laboratory, the Public, and the Construction of Food Safety in Brussels (1840s–1910s)."
This paper addresses the role of consumers in food safety between 1850 and 1914, taking the chemical laboratory of the city of Brussels (1856) as a case study. It questions the presence of "the public" in the discourse of the city council, as well as the consumers' actual participation in the food control system (the inhabitants of Brussels were invited to bring food samples to the laboratory). Despite very frequent and loud appeals by the city's administration from 1870 on, the public reacted with weak, and diminishing, enthusiasm: the number of food samples submitted by private persons gradually declined up to 1914. This paper suggests various reasons, but advocates that the establishment of a modern public service, which was embedded in an appropriate discourse, created trust. The paper uses police archives, contemporary brochures, and reports of municipal meetings.
Catrien Bijleveld (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement) and Frans van Poppel (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute), "The Success of the Civilization Offensive: Societal Adaptation of Reformed Boys in the Early Twentieth Century in the Netherlands."
Societal adaptation after reform school was studied for almost 200 men born around 1900 in the Netherlands. The men came mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds: parents were ill-equipped to raise them, alcoholics, criminal or extremely poor. The men held significantly higher occupations than their father, and outperformed general upward social mobility. Their marriage chances were approximately normative; divorce chances were much increased. Almost half were delinquent and one in six was either a chronic or a serious criminal. Marriage and employment patterns were associated and were associated with childhood risk factors as well. Delinquency was predicted only by having a convicted father. We conclude that the civilization offensive was partly successful in that it mainly equipped these men for better than expected employment careers.
Next up: A glimpse of the book reviews . . . .