Political History Seminar

This research group is devoted to the history and politics of English-speaking countries, using methodological tools from social, intellectual and cultural history to ask questions about political identities and political subjectivities, and about the interconnectedness of politics and everyday life. History is understood in a longue durée, with scholars working on the 17th century to the 21st century. The aim of our group is stimulate interdisciplinary research across the social sciences and develop work cutting across time periods, questioning the nature of an ‘English-speaking’ world and its boundaries and looking at its links to the wider world.

The group’s research is organised around five main themes:

  1. The Atlantic World and the first age of globalization, 1600-1850
  2. Migrations, discriminations, ethnic and racial inequalities
  3. International policies and diplomatic networks in the Anglophone worlds
  4. Constructing national identities and national myths
  5. Democracy, democratisation and politicization in North America and the United Kingdom

The group has close connections with the research group on gender and the different transversal groups (Writing history from the margins;  popular classes ; material culture) which stem from the History group.

Director : François de Chantal

Seminar website : http://histpol.hypotheses.org

Liste des séminaires axe « histoire du politique » – 2019-20

  • Lundi 18 novembre – 17-19 : Ariane Mak (Université de Paris) – « Enquêter en temps de guerre. De la crainte de l’espion à la controverse ‘Cooper’s Snoopers’ »
    Comment enquêter en temps de guerre quand la figure de l’espion hante les esprits ? L’intervention se penche sur un point aveugle de l’histoire du Mass-Observation (1937-1949) – à savoir la manière dont cette organisation britannique de sciences sociales a dû faire face à une suspicion généralisée durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Celle-ci s’exprime en premier lieu dans l’enquête de terrain, alors que les enquêteurs du Mass-Observation, soupçonnés d’espionnage, se voient pris en filature par une population aux aguets, voire emmenés au poste. Cette méfiance se dit à un autre niveau dans la controverse médiatico-politique des « Cooper’s Snoopers » qui éclate autour de l’usage d’enquêtes scientifiques – et de l’enquête d’opinion en particulier – par l’État. Entre suspicion de surveillance politique et moqueries face à la prétendue scientificité des méthodes employées, le scandale s’étale dans la presse avant de s’inviter dans les débats de la Chambre des Communes. Ce faisant, l’intervention interroge les rapports entre science et politique, et éclaire la figure ambivalente du scientifique et de l’enquêteur de terrain dans le Royaume-Uni des années 1940.


  • Dans le cadre du séminaire franco-britannique: Jeudi 28 novembre, 28 rue Serpente, Paris (6e), salle D421 – Dr. Jackie Uí Chionna (National University of Ireland, Galway), “Family Networks in the Revolutionary Generation: The Ryans of Tomcoole, A Case Study”.
    ‘The story of the Ryan girls is a fabulous family saga about a group of young women who were liberated by education and their own affirmative personalities in the early years of the 20th century…The standard biographies of Irish lives often ignore spouses and family connections, but these women were clearly influential on that revolutionary generation around them.’ (Belfast Newsletter, 7 October 2014. Mary Kenny). Mary Kate (Kit), Josephine Mary (Min), Christina and Phyllis Ryan were sisters, and part of a close family circle, the Ryans, fromToomcoole, Co. Wexford, Ireland. Brought up in a strongly nationalist family, all of the sisters progressed to university, and their education, relationships and social circles placed them at the very heart of the revolutionary movement in the period 1912-1922. Three of the sisters were in relationships with leading figures in the 1916 Rising – Phyllis and Min themselves served as messengers during the Rising. But they were also bright young women, who studied abroad, and whilst studying in London and Paris, they communicated with each other by way of a writing book or jotter, which was then circulated from one sister to another. They also wrote copious amounts of letters to each other, comparing notes on everything from political movements to their latest boyfriends and social lives. This lecture will examine the correspondence of the Ryan sisters as a case study in the significance of family networks for the revolutionary generation in British and Irish history.


  • Lundi 10 février – 17-19 : Thibault Clément (Paris 4 – délégation LARCA 2018-19) – Malls et planification urbaine à Los Angeles : les centres commerciaux, prototypes d’un nouveau partenariat public-privé
     Cette présentation se penchera sur les centres commerciaux au prisme des politiques urbaines du Los Angeles d’après-guerre: fidèles en cela à une certaine tradition américaine, les municipalités locales trouveront dans les malls l’occasion de déléguer les missions de planification à des acteurs privés (promoteurs, chambres de commerce, …), lesquels hisseront bientôt les enclaves autocentrées des centres commerciaux au rang de prototype pour des master planned communities entières. Censés témoigner de la supériorité du secteur privé, ces développements s’appuient en vérité grandement sur les ressources et compétences du secteur public, mettant au jour les termes ambigus d’un exemple inédit de coopération public-privé.


  • Lundi 9 mars – 17-19 : Sébastien Mort (Université de Lorraine – délégation LARCA 2018-19) : Bullying the News Media : Authoritarianism, Political Intimidation, and Journalistic Practice in the Trump Era
    Starting from the premise that Donald Trump follows an authoritarian style of rule, this talk addresses the strategies that he and his allies have unfurled to intimidate the news media. It proposes that journalism’s difficulty to effectively respond to Trump’s intimidation can be accounted for by both the vulnerabilities of the US news media system in the postbroadcast media regime and the profession’s failure to update professional practices and conventions.


  • Dans le cadre du séminaire franco-britannique – Jeudi 26 mars – 28 rue Serpente, Paris (6e), salle D421: Ben Griffin (Girton College, Cambridge), “The gender order and the judicial imagination: masculinity, liberalism and governmentality in modern Britain”
    In this paper I will explore the strange absence of the judiciary from the literature on modern British politics, and ask how we ought to write the history of the law. I propose that a fruitful line of inquiry is to write not a history of legal doctrines, but a history of judicial mentalities. I will illustrate this by looking at the role of the judiciary in sustaining sexual inequality in modern Britain. The argument is that the nineteenth-century gender order was continually unsettled by changing ideas about the nature of law, the transformation of the juridical state, and shifting ideas about fatherhood, childhood and femininity. That meant that judges had to perform considerable intellectual work to reconstruct familiar inequalities on new foundations. Given the peculiarities of the common law system, sustaining inequalities required judges actively to manipulate a body of case law in order to produce a coherent doctrine. For this reason we should not see the law as a stable patriarchal monolith but as a gendered system that was continuously being reconstructed at the point of use by actors with considerable freedom of manoeuvre. Seen from this perspective, the inequalities confronting the Victorian women’s movement were not timeless prejudices or ancient laws, but modes of discrimination recently reconstructed by a male judicial elite on whom historical judgement has been suspended for too long.