One of the readings for this past week in LABR 2P93, my global working-class history for the Department of Labour Studies at Brock University, was Eileen Ford’s, “Insurgent Citizenship.” This chapter in World Histories from Below ranges all over the world and covers more than two hundred years in a readable thirty pages. It touches on revolutions and rebellions, strikes and demonstrations, and other forms of resistance to oppression and marginalization. It’s a bit of a wild ride, but there is a sensible argument that ties together what can appear to be disparate events.
Ford argues that the historical nature of citizenship was limited, often exclusive, and always unequal. It was also a progressive ideal and bundle of practical rights that inspired the activism of oppressed and marginalized peoples since the Age of Democratic Revolutions. This is what she means by “insurgent citizenship”; collective activism from below was citizenship in practice.
No more exciting image has ever appeared in a blog post.
A Teaching Assistant in LABR 2P93, the global working-class history course I am teaching for the Department of Labour Studies at Brock University, just told me about a project to produce a graphic novel about the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. It is in development, and will be called “Peterloo: Witnesses to a Massacre.” The Kickstarter page shows some of the art, and provides information about the project – there’s a video too.
From the project’s Kickstarter page, at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/678551473/peterloo-a-graphic-novel?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=peterloo
Peterloo is a point of focus in LABR 2P93. Students read material about the event and write about it as part of one of the assignments. I make it a focus partly because its timing works in the course for discussion of emerging industrial society and the significance of democracy in places where there were no republican revolutions. I also focus on it because there is so much good material on the event and its place in history. Students will be able to find good scholarly sources on Peterloo for their assignment. There is also good public history about Peterloo, including this British Library piece by Ruth Maher that includes embedded primary sources.
The concept of class, and the term working class, were addressed early on in LABR 2P93, a history course in Brock University’s labour studies program. Part of how students learned about this concept from a historical perspective was through assigned readings, which included E.P. Thompson’s “Preface” to his The Making of the English Working Class (1963), and Marx’s and Engels’ Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848). The former is a classic text in the field, and the kind of work that graduates of a labour studies program should know about. The latter, of course, is historically significant as a foundational text for socialist and communist movements, some of which fought revolutions and founded states in the twentieth-century. It’s the sort of work that many students in labour studies already know about.
Not sure how I’ve managed to keep these flimsy paperbacks in such good condition.