Late June 2020 was an extraordinary time to be reading Animal City. COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, had already killed around 130,000 people in the United States, with urban areas suffering the highest death rates. In New York City alone, 30,000 people had died.
It has now been over half a century since a generation of historians were inspired to study the workings of local society in late medieval England by the teaching and work of K.B. McFarlane, who died in 1966.
Danger, disaster and the loss of life are emblematic features of Britain’s cultural memory of coal mining. Netflix’s hit series, The Crown, prominently reinforced these motifs through its recent portrayal of the 1966 Aberfan disaster in South Wales.
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.
Mira Siegelberg’s important monograph retrieves and explores the debates in a range of different forums on a subject of fundamental significance: how, in the author’s words, ‘the problem of statelessness informed theories of rights, sovereignty, international legal order, and cosmopolitan justice, theories developed when the conceptual and political contours of the modern interstate order were
Luke Blaxill’s book deserves to be seminal. Its unassuming title conceals a bracing methodological challenge: an argument for the application of specific digital techniques to the study of electoral politics.
‘Artificial intelligence (AI)’ is a loaded term, rife with connotative contradiction that inspires debate, disagreement, and disillusion. But what is AI, really? How have our expectations of computational capability, and even a robot Armageddon, come to be? Why does it matter how we talk about increasingly sophisticated technology, not just in expository prose, but also in fiction?
If it is hard to write a book review, then it is much harder to make a book. Anthony Grafton's latest monograph, Inky Fingers, puts the difficulties of labour at the centre of this engaging study of book production in early modern Europe and North America (the latter included despite the expected limitations of the subtitle).
Historians of the British Empire have long recognized the hunger strike—famously embraced by suffragettes in Britain, and by nationalists in Ireland and India—as a transnational tactic of democratic, anti-colonial resistance.
‘We are the Moses generation.’ Dr Otis Moss, a veteran of the civil rights movement, friend of Martin Luther King and former adviser to Jimmy Carter was addressing reassuring words to the latest aspirant for the presidency, the young Barack Obama. ‘We marched, we sat in, we went to jail … We got us out of Egypt, you could say.’ But, added the Revd Moss, we could only travel so far.