Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.
Research on immigration to Britain at the turn of the 20th century largely conforms to historiographical conventions which privilege the nation state as a framework for investigation and which adhere to narrative chronologies relevant to nations. These conventions, Ewence contends, eclipse much from view which does not easily fit into such established categories.
Traci Parker’s book, Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement: Workers, Consumers, and Civil Rights from the 1930s to the 1980s, is an engaging study of the intersections of race, class, gender, labour, and activism in an arguably quintessential 20th-century American space: the department store.