Social Science blog

Exploring Social Science at the British Library

129 posts categorized "Social Sciences"

06 June 2024

D-Day: from memory to commemoration

 

This post highlights a small selection of the many books published in the last two decades and available in the Library that bring a contemporary approach to the history and understanding of D-Day and the battle for France.

 

Timeleft between us

In The time left between us, by Alicia DeFonzo, Lincoln : Potomac Books (University of Nebraska Press), 2022, shelfmark m22/.11296, the author explores the link between past and present through her grandfather’s experience of D-Day and fighting in France.

 

To coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, BBC2 has screened a groundbreaking documentary series, D-Day: The Unheard Tapes (available on iPlayer). The series brings to life audio interviews with those who fought by using actors who resemble the speaker at the time of the war to lip-synch to the recordings.  The use of actors bridges the gap brought by time and gives a contemporary feel to the recordings, many of which have not previously been heard beyond the archives where the tapes are held. The series, accompanied by a new book – one of many focusing on D-Day to be released this month – highlights the way these events are passing from the testimony of living witnesses into cultural history. 

 

Both the programme and the accompanying book offer new insights, and show that there are new and different ways of approaching history both to make it meaningful to younger generations and to re-examine established narratives to draw out different aspects and understandings. This post focuses on some of the books currently available to readers in the Library’s reading rooms that have been published in recent years that bring a contemporary approach to the telling of social history.  Some of the books featured in this post bring to the fore different perspectives on the invasion, others consider how a younger generation can relate to these events, and some examine the social and political implications of the commemoration of war and of D-Day itself.       

 

The selection of books highlighted are among those that are held in print format and should currently be available to readers in the Library’s reading rooms.  Most are held at our St Pancras site whilst a couple are held at our site at Boston Spa in Yorkshire.  Some books held in Yorkshire are now available to readers, although those held in automated storage cannot yet be accessed following the cyber incident last year.  Just under half of our current intake of books published in the UK come to us in digital format, and access to these has not yet been restored, so they are also excluded from this selection of books.  An update on the restoration of services can be found on our Knowledge Matters blog.

 

And so to the books we can make available to readers...   Pictured above, Alicia DeFonzo’s The time left between us blends memoir, history and oral story-telling. DeFonzo, who lectures in English at Old Dominion University in Virginia, retraces her grandfather’s steps through France and Germany and weaves his account of his experiences in wartime Europe into her own memories to understand the relationship between past and present.  Her grandfather’s memories – passing from the Normandy landings to the liberation of concentration camps - become part of her own history.  Starting from the realisation that she knew almost nothing about this history and that her grandfather had not previously related these experiences – she arrives at an understanding that she has a part to play in safeguarding and transmitting memory.

 

Jonathan Mayo

D-Day minute by minute, by Jonathan Mayo. London : Short Books, 2014. YC.2015.a.763

 

A more straightforward, fast-paced, and highly accessible account of events is offered by Jonathan Mayo’s D-Day minute by minute, London: Short Books, 2014 (shelfmark YC.2015.a.763).  In just over 300 pages, Mayo’s book draws on a wide range of personal narratives to construct a detailed account of events as they were experienced not only by those who fought but by many people impacted by these crucial events, from French villagers and journalists, to schoolchildren and nurses.  Mayo’s book focuses not on military strategy but on the human experience of involvement in shaping the course of history.

 

 

James Holland

Normandy '44 : D-Day and the battle for France: a new history, by James Holland, London : Bantam Press, 2019, YC.2020.a.1072

 

A similarly broad range of experiences is brought to the fore in James Holland’s Normandy ’44: D-Day and the battle for France.   Holland uses archival research and eyewitness testimonies from around the world to re-examine established narratives of the invasion, bringing out the human aspect of the conflict as well as differing perspectives, with accounts from civilians and resistance fighters as well as military personnel.

 

Forgotten

Forgotten: the untold story of D-Day's Black heroes, by Linda Hervieux. New York, HarperCollins, 2015. Shelfmark  m15/.11728

 

Blending social history, biography and an account of military events is Linda Hervieux’s book, Forgotten: the untold story of D-Day's Black heroes (New York: HarperCollins, 2015, Shelfmark  m15/.11728).  The book focuses on the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers within the racially-segregated US forces involved in the assault on the beaches. Using military records and interviews with surviving members of the battalion and their families, Hervieux highlights the sense of freedom these men gained in Europe and in England in the lead-up to the invasion. The book notes the lack of recognition accorded to these men and the denial of military honours after the war. The disparity between their experiences in Europe and the segregation and injustice they faced at home was an important backdrop to the emergent civil rights movement.

 

Breath of freedom

A breath of freedom: the civil rights struggle, African American GIs, and Germany, by Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. YC.2013.a.5132

 

This theme is shared by Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke’s book, A breath of freedom: the civil rights struggle, African American GIs, and Germany, which explores the social and historical impact of serving in Europe for African American servicemen and how this fed into activism within the civil rights movement.  Although not focused specifically on D-Day, it is one of a number of books to consider the wider social and political aspects of participation in the fight to bring to an end to the German occupation of Europe.  This is explored in a more recent work by Sandra Bolzenius, Glory in their spirit: how four black women took on the Army during World War II (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2018), shelfmark YD.2022.a.1758.  The book records a strike against discriminatory work assignments by four African American female privates serving in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) at Fort Devens, Massachusetts in 1945.  At the time, their well-publicised protest “pushed the army's segregation system to its breaking point”.

 

 

Sylvia Wild

Woman at the front: memoirs of an ATS girl: D-Day to 1946, by Sylvia Wild, Stroud: Amberley 2012. YK.2013.a.3983

Returning to different perspectives and experiences of D-Day itself, is Sylvia Wild’s first-person account, published in 2012, of her service in the Auxiliary Territorial Service as a shorthand typist working for the Senior Royal Engineer officers developing the D-Day plans concerning ports, docks, harbours and railways as part of Operation Overlord.  Her service continued in France, where she lived in French households as transport services were reinstated in France, Belgium and Germany.  Her first-hand account could be read alongside the very different experiences of the 39 women who served in France within the Special Operations Executive working undercover to support the French Resistance. Their story is recounted in Kate Vigurs’ Mission France: the true history of the women of SOE, published in 2020 by Yale University Press, shelfmark YC.2022.a.4932.

 

 

 

German eyes

Normandiefront: D-Day to Saint-Lô through German eyes, by Vince Milano and Bruce Conner. Stroud: Spellmount, 2012. Shelfmark YK.2013.a.1164)

 

A different perspective on the fighting, based on interviews with, and the testimony of, German combatants in 352 Division is offered by Normandiefront: D-Day to Saint-Lô through German eyes, by Vince Milano and Bruce Conner (Stroud: Spellmount, 2012, shelfmark YK.2013.a.1164).  Through the course of their work over many years, the authors collected German and Allied photographs and documents, many of which had not previously been published.  Although focused more on the course of the battle than on the feelings of those involved, the book gives an insight into a very different experience of how events unfolded.

 

 

 

100 locations

D-Day UK: 100 locations in Britain, by Simon Forty, Swindon: Historic England, 2019, shelfmark YC.2020.b.320

 

The preparations for D-Day and the way that they involved a wide range of people from across the country is the focus of D-Day UK: 100 locations in Britain, by Simon Forty (Swindon: Historic England, 2019, shelfmark YC.2020.b.320). It is one of a number of books to consider the planning and information-gathering that was necessary before the invasion could be attempted.  This is also the focus of Bletchley Park and D-Day: the untold story of how the battle for Normandy was won, by David Kenyon, published in 2019. Using previously classified documents, David Kenyon shows how preparations for the Normandy landings in 1944 - the turning point in the war in Europe - began at Bletchley in 1942, with the careful collation of information extracted from enemy signals traffic.

 

 

Bletchly

Bletchley Park and D-Day: the untold story of how the battle for Normandy was won, David Kenyon, New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2019. YC.2020.a.1359

 

 

 

Screenshot 2024-06-04 at 20.58.28

The cruel victory: the French Resistance, D-Day and the battle for the Vercors 1944, by Paddy Ashdown, London : William Collins, 2014, shelfmark YC.2015.a.14166

 

In a very different vein, Paddy Ashdown’s book about the French Resistance in the Vercors mountain range near Grenoble aims to tell a story overlooked by most English-language histories of D-Day. As Allied troops stormed the beaches in Normandy, the resistance in the Vercors rose up in a planned rearguard action that was brutally crushed when German reinforcements arrived. The book shows how the tragedy gave the Vercors a place in French history and gives voice to the many fighters who fought to gain a say in the future of their country.

 

 

Divided memory

Divided memory : French recollections of World War II from the Liberation to the present, Olivier Wieviorka, Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2012. Shelfmark YC.2013.a.312

 

Wieviorka's important book tackles the conflicting memories of all aspects of wartime France: the fall of France, Vichy, the Occupation, the deportations, the Resistance, trials and amnesties. Wieviorka examines the contested area of who should be honoured within French history in the wake of war and occupation.

 

 

In memory and history

D-Day in history and memory: the Normandy landings in international remembrance and commemoration. Edited by Michael Dolski, Sam Edwards, and John Buckley. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press, 2014, shelfmark YC.2015.a.5044

 

The politics of commemoration is the focus of a work bringing together a collection of essays on the complex and often conflicting memories of D-Day.   The work aims to deconstruct and counter the way D-Day has frequently been mythologised by bringing together multiple national viewpoints.

 

 

D-Day remembered

D-Day remembered : the Normandy landings in American collective memory, Dolski, Michael, 2016. YC.2017.a.7666.

 

Addressing similar themes, historian Michael Dolski’s book examines how understandings of the past are shaped by the present through consideration of how D-Day is remembered and commemorated by Americans. His study aims to expose and consider the cultural functions of war remembrance.  Drawing on a wider range of international examples of warfare, Commemorating war : the politics of memory, by T G Ashplant, Graham Dawson, and Michael Roper (New Brunswick, N.J.; London: Transaction 2004) is one of a growing number of academic works to explore war memory and the role of commemoration.  The latter book is available on the open shelves in the Social Sciences reading room at SPIS303.66 and can also be ordered to other reading rooms via shelfmark YC.2009.a.7918.

 

Because of the Library's IT outage, readers will have to wait a while before access is available to the new crop of books published to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, but as services are restored, anyone with an interest in delving deeper into this history will be able to access these works in the Library's reading rooms.

22 April 2024

Researching social work in the Social Sciences Reading Room.

This post, written by Social Sciences Subject Librarian, Ben Hadley, describes printed resources relevant to social work that are available to readers in the Social Sciences Reading Room, as well as publications that can be ordered up from basement storage for use in the reading rooms.  The Library's digital collections are not currently available whilst systems are restored following the cyber attack in October 2023.   Information about the restoration of services can be found on the British Library Knowledge Matters blog, and details of opening hours and current services are on the Library's website.

 

Mod soc thought shelf

Reference materials relevant to social work in the OPL section on the shelves in the Social Sciences Reading Room. 

 

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change. Research themes encompass a range of interdisciplinary approaches including law, philosophy, politics, public policy, psychology and social anthropology. 

 

The recent cyber-attack has had a severe impact on our digital collections. Unfortunately we currently cannot provide access to abstracting databases and e-resources via our reading room PCs.  Similarly, we are not able to provide access to books and journals published in the UK or in Ireland that have been deposited with the Library in electronic format rather than in print.  This affects many British (and also Irish) books published since 2013 as roughly half of the Library's intake from these countries is received in digital format.

 

However, readers can still order journals and printed books to use in our study spaces, and social work dictionaries, encyclopedias and reference sources on related topics are available on the open shelves. Social work research demands a multi-disciplinary approach, and we can still provide access to a broad spectrum of topics from a wide range of subject areas. Our research monographs cover a wide field of subject disciplines and many are held in the Social Sciences Reading Room. 

 

Here are just a few examples of books are available to order and use in the reading rooms, that can be found in our catalogue: 

 

Social Policy for Social Work, Lorraine Green and Karen Clark 

Soc Policy for Soc Work

Front cover of Social policy for social work, by Lorraine Green and Karen Clarke. Cambridge; Polity Press, 2016. British Library shelfmark YC.2016.b.604

 

This book examines the shifts in the dominant political ideology that have affected the nature of welfare provision and the balance of responsibilities between the family, the voluntary sector, the market and the state. It explains how these developments impact social workers and service users. 

It traces the origins of state welfare from the Elizabethan Poor Laws to the late 1800s. It then examines each stage of welfare provision from the post-war consensus through to the Coalition government 2010 – 2015.     British Library shelfmark YC.2016.b.604 

 

Mind, state and society: social history of psychiatry and mental health in Britain 1960 – 2010, edited by George Ikkos and Nick Bouras.

Mind state society

Cover image of Mind, state and society: social history of psychiatry and mental health in Britain 1960–2010, edited by George Ikkos and Nick Bouras. Cambridge University Press, 2021.  Shelfmark YC.2022.a.5666.

 

This book examines the reforms in psychiatry and mental health services in Britain. It features contributions from leading academics, policymakers, mental health clinicians, service users and carers. It offers a rich and integrated picture of mental health, covering experiences from children to older people; employment to homelessness; women to LGBTQ+; refugees to black and minority ethnic groups; and faith communities and the military. 

British Library shelfmark YC.2022.a.5666 

 

Child Welfare and Social Action in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Jon Lawrence and Pat Starkey.  Liverpool University Press, 2001

This collection of essays addresses child migration, ‘delinquency’, and the physical and psychological traumas of children in care. It offers an international perspective on these issues and each case study provides a thorough analysis within its historical context. Each of the themes introduced in this study can be explored in more detail in our collections. 

British Library shelfmark YC.2006.a.15461 

 

What is Social Work: Contexts and Perspectives, Nigel Horner. London; Learning Matters, 2012

This book is primarily aimed at social work students in their first year of study. It examines the major influences that shaped the welfare systems towards the end of the nineteenth century, including religious movements, philanthropy, social reform, labour movements and government policy. 

 

It presents an overview of child welfare policy and practice and introduces legal frameworks for working with children and families. It also examines the changing context of the profession in light of legislative changes from the 1908 Children Act which led to the introduction of juvenile courts, to the Children Act 2004 which affirmed a commitment to assuring high quality childcare for all.  

British Library shelfmark SPIS 361.30941 

 

In addition this book also introduces a professional capabilities framework that informs all social work practice. These themes can be explored further in studies held in the reading room under subject heading SPIS 361.01. A member of staff can help you to find these titles.  

 

Gender diversity, recognition and citizenship: towards a politics of difference, Sally Hines. Basingstoke; Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

 

Gender diversity

Gender diversity, recognition and citizenship: towards a politics of difference, by Sally Hines. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. British Library shelfmark SPIS 306.768 

This book explores the significance of the UK Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and considers broader social, cultural, legal political shifts that have resulted. This book considers the politics of identity and how lived experience has been impacted by these changes. The GRA is also contextualised within human rights discourse and law.  

British Library shelfmark SPIS 306.768  

 

 

Social Policy, John Baldock.  Oxford University Press, 2012

Explores the history and development of social policy and provides a comprehensive introduction to this area of study. An understanding of these themes is essential to social work students and to those studying related disciplines. The glossary provides a list of terms that can help readers to focus and narrow their research themes. 

 

Some of the subject headings in this study include: social need and inequality, family and welfare, the voluntary sector, global social policy, health policy, housing, crime and punishment. 

British Library shelfmark SPIS 361.610941 

 

 

Here is a list of some of the key journals in social work: 

 

Social Policy and Society 

British Journal of Social Work 

Journal of Social Policy 

Journal of evidence based social work 

Journal of social work practice 

Social Policy and Administration 

 

Some of the articles from these journals are available for free on the web. Just type the journal title into Google and you should be able to find a full list of articles on the publisher’s website. Look for the Open Access symbol, this means that an article is free to access.  We can provide access to other articles from these journals if they have been published before October 2023, just note down the year and issue number that you need and bring this information to the Social Sciences issue desk.  You can also find some digitised journal articles via the Internet Archive's  Wayback Machine. 

 

The following titles are held on the open shelves in the SPIS journals collection: 

 

Professional Social Work 

Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society 

Social Theory and Health 

Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma 

Journal of Public Health Policy 

 

Here is a list of some of the topics associated with social work held within the SPIS books collection (there is a more comprehensive list in the reading room): 

 

Children 305.23  

Older people 305.26 

Courts 347.4201 

Social work 361.301  

Social action 361.2  

Social work research 362 

Mental health 362.2  

Disabled persons 362.4  

Children problems 362.7  

Criminology 364 

Drug abuse 362.29 

Counselling 361.06 

Delinquent and problem pupils 371.93  

 

In the OPL section you can find encylopedias and abstracts for related subjects and disciplines

Dictionary shelf

Examples of reference sources on the open shelves in the Social Sciences Reading Room.  

 

 

Reference materials on the open shelves include the following titles: 

 

Social research methods OPL 300.72  

Encyclopedias, sociology dictionaries OPL 301.03  

(In this section you can also find encyclopedias in women’s studies, social psychology, adolescence, race and LGBTQ studies) 

Encyclopedias of social work OPL. 361.003  

Social work abstracts OPL 361.973  

Halsbury’s laws of England OPL 344.4209  

Introduction the law and the legal system OPL 345.0973  

Magistrates court guide 2024 OPL 345.38  

 

Finally, here are some websites and resources that may be useful to your research into social policy: 

 

The King’s Fund Library 

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/work-with-us/library#use-our-library-collections 

 

London School of Economics Library 

https://www.lse.ac.uk/library/using-the-library/library-resources-guide 

 

British Sociological Association 

https://www.britsoc.co.uk/media-centre/research-databases/ 

 

King’s College Library 

https://libguides.kcl.ac.uk/systematicreview/greylit 

 

The Knowledge Exchange 

https://theknowledgeexchangeblog.com 

 

The following organisations publish research papers, policy briefings and reports on their websites: 

 

National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) 

Joseph Rowntree Foundation 

Resolution foundation 

Reform 

The Children’s Commissioner 

Intergenerational Foundation 

International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) 

13 March 2024

Consulting Official Publications collections after the cyber attack.

 

This post, written by the Library's Content Lead for Official and Government Publications describes how readers can access official publications in the wake of the cyber-attack on the Library in October 2023.   Information about the restoration of services can be found on the British Library Knowledge Matters blog, and details of opening hours and current services are on the Library's website.

 

Following the cyber-attack on the British Library’s IT estate in October 2023, access to our official publications collections is limited, but will gradually improve.  At present, you can only consult print and microform materials that are either shelved in the Social Sciences Reading Room at St Pancras or in the St Pancras basements. In the reading room we have a selection of historic UK parliamentary and legal texts including:

Commons and Lords journals
The Official Report (Hansard) and Standing Committee Debates
Public General Acts, Local and Personal Acts and Private Acts
UK Statutory Instruments
House of Commons papers and bills on microfiche, 1801-2004/05
House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century reprint edited by Sheila Lambert

 

Reading room

Official publications on the open shelves in the Social Sciences Reading Room at St Pancras.

 

Basement 1 at St Pancras holds an eclectic mix of UK, US and United Nations publications in print which, in a leap back to the 20th century, can be ordered on paper tickets:

Bound sets of Commons and Lords papers and bills from 1801-
United States Congressional Serial Set 1817/18-1979/90
Electoral registers, 2002-
United Nations documents 1946-2012

 

Official texts were historically catalogued and shelved in series, not at the individual document level. Fortunately hard copy indexes are still available in the reading room and these will enable you to record the correct citation in the series so that the library assistants can locate your chosen document on the shelf.

 

Commons

Hansard: the official record of parliamentary debates in the House of Commons.

 

The St Pancras basements also hold a treasure trove of official materials on microform which can be consulted in lieu of electronic sources, such as:

The depository collection of US federal government and Congressional papers, 1982- on microfiche arranged by Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) code
US Congressional hearings on microfiche
Historic electoral registers for England, 1832-1937 on microfilm
HMSO controller’s library on microfilm
Government publications relating to Kenya, 1897-1963 on microfilm
Annual departmental reports relating to Sierra Leone, 1893-1961 on microfilm

 

There are printed indexes to these sets in the reading room that will help you to find the correct document codes and reel numbers so that you can place orders. There is also a card index of official microforms available for consultation.

 

Now for the bad news. Apart from these print and microform sets, all other UK, foreign national government, and intergovernmental organisation (IGO) publications are two hundred miles away on our Boston Spa site in Yorkshire. UK departmental publications and electoral registers 1832-2001 in print are kept in an automated store and cannot be retrieved as yet, although restoring this service is a priority.  However the historic collections of foreign national government and IGO documents are in static stores, and we aim to restart delivery around the end of March. You can find their shelfmarks in the interim catalogue or in the printed copy of the British Museum Library catalogue in the Social Sciences reading room.

 

Edinburgh council

An example of the electoral registers available at the Library.

 

Our world class collection of subscribed electronic resources is inaccessible at the moment, including full-text document collections such as the US Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994, Congressional Record to 1997,  Congressional Hearings, 1823-1979, US Territorial Papers, the US Foreign Broadcast Information Service, UK Parliamentary Papers, UK State Papers Online 16th-18th centuries, and British Online Archives databases, but in many cases there are print or microform alternatives available.  Originals of digitised UK government archives are available at the National Archives, Kew.  Recent UK, IGO and foreign national government materials can of course be found freely available on the internet.  Large and influential IGOs such as the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank now make their electronic libraries available free as a public good:

World Bank Open Knowledge Repository 
United Nations Official Document System  
IMF eLibrary 

 

You will find records for electronic UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland government documents acquired through non-print legal deposit before April 2023 in the interim catalogue, but there is no access to the documents themselves at present. We are aiming to restore view access in June or July this year, so watch this space. However, prior to the cyber incident we received feeds of records with hot links to freely available documents published by the European Union, the US federal government and the Irish Republic government. These links work and you can view the documents from within the catalogue.

 

Access to full text of Scottish government and Parliament documents is available from the National Library of Scotland catalogue (Library Search). Queen’s University Belfast hosts the Northern Ireland Official Publications Archive, a repository containing Northern Ireland government documents. For current UK government and Parliamentary documentation you can of course search Gov.UK and the UK Parliament website.

 

Navigating the Library’s historic print and microform collections of government and IGO documents is challenging because they were catalogued at the series level (print) or set level (microform). To trace the correct citation of a document within a series or microform set you need to consult a range of printed indexes. Please ask our friendly and efficient reference team for help. They can be contacted in person in the Social Sciences reading room or by email at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

08 March 2024

Finding Women's Studies on the shelves: an international turn

Transnational feminist

'Transnational feminist politics, education and social justice', edited by Silvia Edling and Sheila Macrine. Shelfmark YC.2023.a.64.   Books published by Bloomsbury are received in print and continue to be available to readers.

 

The cyber-attack on the British Library and the resulting IT outage have thrown a spotlight on the Library’s collections held in physical formats such as print and manuscripts.  Whilst the Library is working to restore access to digital collections and to material stored in Yorkshire at Boston Spa, the physical collections held in London are still available to readers.   Written on International Women’s Day, this post takes a look at the books on the shelves in the Library's basements at St Pancras. Focusing on books on Women's Studies, it considers the (temporary) effect of bringing a hybrid library back to a primary reliance on print.

 

Edith

'Edith Cavell: faith before the firing squad', by Catherine Butcher (shelfmark YC.2016.a.12850) gazes out from the centre of a row of books received through Legal Deposit. Works centering women are spread through the collections.  This book comes from Lion Hudson (Monarch Books) who publish Christian material, in print format. 

 

The Library restored access to a temporary version of its online catalogue on 15 January.  That catalogue, based on a back-up version, includes material received by the Library up to April 2023.    The catalogue marks material held in physical form in London as ‘should be available’, whilst e-books, e-journals and e-resources that cannot be accessed, and print materials held at Boston Spa, are marked as ‘unavailable’.  Some materials available online can still be accessed too.

 

What does this mean in practice for anyone looking for contemporary published books in social science subject areas?

 

The answer, in short, is that whilst most older social science books are still available, a sizeable proportion of more recent publications from the UK and Ireland cannot currently be accessed. 

 

After non-print legal deposit regulations came into force in 2013, most of the UK’s major publishers of academic texts switched to depositing their publications in digital format.  This includes very many of the big-hitters in the social sciences.  For books, think Routledge, Ashgate, Gower, Sage, Policy Press (Bristol University), Palgrave Macmillan, Rowman & Littlefield, and smaller independent publishers such as Intellect Books, Verso, Pluto, IB Tauris, Saqi and Zed Press.  Those depositing e-books rather than print also include several university presses, among them UCL, Manchester, Liverpool, Wales, Huddersfield and two of the major US university presses, Yale and Chicago.  For journals the list is similar but also includes Taylor & Francis and Oxford University Press.  These are major publishers of social science materials.

 

For these publishers, the Library holds books and journals in print format to at least 2013 and sometimes beyond, as not all publishers switched to digital deposit at the same time.  All had completed their transition by 2018, so any books and journals received since then will have been received in digital format and are not currently available.  The Library is working to restore access to these materials.

 

Academic publishers who continue to deposit their books in print include Cambridge University Press and Bloomsbury (the latter deposits print and digital copies), as well as Oxford University Press (books, but not journals),  along with very many international university presses who deposit because they distribute their books in the UK and Ireland. A wide range of smaller UK and Irish publishers also deposit print copies, but their output in the social sciences is much smaller than the academic presses who deposit books and journals in digital format.

 

Women's rights in armed conflict

 

'Women’s rights in armed conflict under international law', by Catherine O’Rourke.  Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2020.  British Library shelfmark YC.2022.a 1908.   Books published by Cambridge University Press are received in print and should be available.

 

Legal deposit regulations cover the UK and Ireland. The Library purchases a wide range of academic material and other books relevant to readers’ needs published outside the UK and Ireland.  Purchased books in English and in European languages are received in print format and are held in London at St Pancras.  The vast majority of these books should be available to readers, but readers planning to consult items should contact the Reference Services team by emailing  [email protected]  in advance of their visit to ensure that specific items are available.

 

 purchased women's studies

A screenshot of a catalogue search showing recent books acquired by purchase as mostly still available to readers.

 

Assessing the resources that are currently available for social science research, there has been less impact for books published before 2013.  After that date, the switch to digital deposit means that a substantial proportion of books published in the UK and Ireland are not currently available.  Books published outside the UK and Ireland, in Europe, the Americas and Oceania, are less impacted by the IT outage.  Most more recent books published in Africa and Asia are not available as most are stored at the Library’s Boston Spa site: there is  information about alternative resources on the Asian and African Studies blog. Additional materials, especially reference books and recent issues of some journals, can be found in the Library's reading rooms, including the Social Science reading room and the Asian and African Studies reading room. 

 

Gender and elections

'Gender and elections', by Susan Carroll, Richard Fox and Kelly Dittmar.  Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2022.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1355.

 

The Library is still able to provide readers with access to a very wide range of important academic texts across all subject areas within the social sciences.  In the absence of a large part of UK and Irish publishing, the more recent books available have a slightly more international frame of reference.

 

Arab American women

Etel Adnan's artwork graces the cover of the monumental 'Arab American women; representation and refusal', edited by Michael W Suleiman, Suad Joseph and Louise Cainkar.  Syracuse University Press.  Shelfmark YC.2022.b.1696

 

 

Womanist

Knowledge and inspiration combine in 'Womanist and mujerista psychologies: voices of fire, acts of courage', edited by Thema Bryant-Davis and Lillian Comas-Díaz. Washington, D.C. : American Psychological Association, 2016.  Shelfmark YC.2016.b.1854

 

 

A brief walk along the shelves in the Library’s basements reveals a rich range of books relevant to women’s studies and women’s history.  Whilst they are generally spread fairly thinly across the shelves, they wait to be discovered and called up to the light of the reading rooms.

 

 

Two

The relatively rare sight of two books in a row with a focus on women and gender.  Both the ethnographic study 'Sex, shame and violence: a revolutionary practice of  public storytelling in poor communities' by Kathleen Cash  (YC.2016.b.1866) and 'Nurses as leaders: evolutionary visions of leadership' by William Rosa  (YC.2016.b.1867) are US publications (published by Vanderbilt University Press and Springer,  New York respectively)  showing the international coverage of currently-available, more recent, material in the social sciences.

 

Recently published books in the humanities and social science sit side by side on the shelves in the basements, whilst works of fiction, general interest, and children's books are housed at Boston Spa.   Interestingly, current drama is housed in London, illustrated in the image below showing three plays, 'Mum' by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, August Strindberg's 'Miss Julie' adapted by Amy Ng and Lulu Raczka's 'Antigone'.   In the centre of this shelf, partly hidden by its label, is Chiara Bottici's 'Anarchafeminism', published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2022.

 

YC2022s

Social science and humanities books received from UK, Irish and some international publishers by Legal Deposit, and stored at St Pancras.

 

Anarchafeminism

'Anarchafeminism' by Chiara Bottici (London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2022).  Shelfmark YC.2022.a.8306 is among books available to readers.

 

Chiara Bottici is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, USA, and has written extensively on philosophy and myth.  Judith Butler, who will be speaking at the British Library on 19 March 2024 (in person tickets are sold out, but online tickets are available), reviewed this latest work by Bottici, saying  "This is a capacious, clear, and revolutionary text that will bring readers who are just starting to learn about feminist philosophy as well as those who have been around a long time. This book does an excellent job in communicating the value of the anarchic, especially in its resistance to the leader, and its thoroughgoing affirmation of the value of freedom. This freedom is not a narrow idea of personal liberty, but an entire mode of transforming the world. We learn as well about a 'transindividualism' which allows us a way to rethink global solidarity for our times."   (https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/anarchafeminism-9781350095854/ viewed 8/3/2024).

 

 

01 March 2024

'Women are up to something': selected readings for Women's History Month 2024

With International Women's Day approaching on 8th March, this post ushers in Women’s History Month by picking out a selection of books published over the last few years that put women’s history and women’s voices centre stage. Ranging from quick reads to more weighty academic studies, this small selection gives an insight into the diversity of the material that is available to readers in the Library’s St Pancras reading rooms.  

Access to the collections held by the British Library remains limited because of a major technology outage caused by a cyber attack at the end of October 2023.  The work being done to restore services is detailed in a post on our Knowledge Matters blog, and our temporary website outlines the services that are currently available, as well as listing what's on at the Library.  Our reading rooms at both St Pancras and Boston Spa are open for personal study, with free wifi and limited access to the collections.  Those who held a reading pass before the outage are able to consult a limited range of collection items.    

The selection of books below ranges from literary criticism to histories of political activism, and from interviews to theory: all are held at St Pancras and should be available to readers who have a readers pass, but if you are planning to come to the Library, please check the availability before you visit.  To do so, contact our Reference Services team by emailing [email protected] .

 

Uncontrollable women: radicals, reformers and revolutionaries by Nan Sloane

London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2022.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1245

Uncontrollable women

Cover image of Uncontrollable women: radicals, reformers and revolutionaries, by Nan Sloane. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2022.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1245

Nan Sloane’s most recent book explores the history of radical, reformist and revolutionary women between the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832. The book puts the often-untold stories and voices of these women centre stage to show the way they challenged power structures and even gave their lives for the cause they made their own.   The battles they fought for political expression and greater freedom are relevant not only to a different reading of history, but also to women's rights today.  Nan Sloane’s earlier work, The Women in the Room: Labour’s forgotten history (London, IB Tauris, 2020, British Library shelfmark YC.2021.a.4484) offered a readable and enlightening account of the political activists who shaped the British Labour party.

 

Carnival is woman: feminism and performance in Caribbean mas, edited by Frances Henry and Dwaine Plaza.

Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2020 British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.488

Caribbean mas

Cover image of Carnival is woman : feminism and performance in Caribbean mas, edited by Frances Henry and Dwaine Plaza. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2020 British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.488

 

The essays in this collection bring a feminist perspective to the role of women in Caribbean Carnival, through a focus on women and their practices in the Trinidad Carnival. The book presents a range of qualitative research methods, including interviews, participant observation and ethnography to examine women’s empowerment through performance, enjoyment and expression. 

 

Feminism by Bernardine Evaristo

London: Tate Gallery Publishing Ltd., 2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.590.

Evaristo Feminism

Cover image of Feminism, by Bernardine Evaristo, London: Tate Gallery Publishing Ltd., 2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.590.

The ‘Look Again’ series of short books explores the Tate’s National Collection of British Art, reframing the collection in new ways and drawing on contemporary perspectives.  In just under 50 pages, this richly-illustrated book offers an interpretation of British art from an intersectional feminist perspective, from one of Britain’s foremost writers.  Bernadine Evaristo is a Booker Prize-winning author and Professor of Creative Writing whose work ranges from fiction and poetry to criticism.  This personal exploration focuses on representations of women and non-binary people of colour who have been less visible within museums and galleries.

 

The career and communities of Zaynab Fawwaz: feminist thinking in fin-de-siècle Egypt by Marilyn Booth.

New York: Oxford University Press, 2021. British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.366

Screenshot 2024-03-01 at 13.45.45

Cover image of The career and communities of Zaynab Fawwaz : feminist thinking in fin-de-siècle Egypt by Marilyn Booth. New York: Oxford University Press, 2021. British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.366

 

Academic and literary translator Marilyn Booth has worked for over thirty years to show women’s input into debates around feminism and gender politics in Egypt.  Her latest work focuses on Lebanese author and activist, Zaynab Fawwaz who wrote and published in Egypt toward the end of the nineteenth century. Her monumental work The Book of Scattered Pearls Regarding Categories of Women /   الدر المنثور في طبقات ربات الخدور  which was first published in 1891, is a biographical dictionary that celebrates and supports women's achievements.  Zaynab Fawwaz wrote two novels and a play, and was at the forefront of the emergence of the novel in Arabic.

 

The women are up to something: how Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch revolutionized ethics, by Benjamin J. B. Lipscomb.


New York: Oxford University Press, 2022.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.411

 

Screenshot 2024-03-01 at 14.01.07

Cover image of The women are up to something: how Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch revolutionized ethics, by Benjamin J. B. Lipscomb .
New York : Oxford University Press, 2022.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.411

 

This book focuses on four women who began their studies at Oxford just before the Second World War: Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch.  From very different backgrounds, they forged friendships and worked to set out an intellectual understanding of what it means to live a good life. Drawing on letters, archives and interviews, the book explores their ideas and the contribution to intellectual history made by their distinct, alternative, interventions into philosophy and ethics.

Up to something

Inside page with figures from The Women are up to something... : Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot and Mary Midgley.

 

Surfacing: on being Black and feminist in South Africa, edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba  Baderoon. 

Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2022.a.3898

Surfacing

Cover of Surfacing : on being Black and feminist in South Africa, edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba  Baderoon.  Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2022.a.3898

 

This ground-breaking collection of essays, edited by feminist theorist Desiree Lewis and poet and scholar Gabeba Baderoon is dedicated to bringing to the fore a range of contemporary Black South African feminist perspectives. The writers and practitioners who have contributed their views use creative expression, photography and poetry to explore representations of Blackness, sexuality, girlhood, history, divinity, alongside other themes.

Surfacing blurb

 

 

Challenging women's agency and activism in early modernity, edited by Merry E. Wiesner.

Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021, British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1071

 

Agency and activism

Cover of Challenging women's agency and activism in early modernity, edited by Merry E. Wiesner. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021, British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1071

An Open Access edition of this book is also available free online as at OAPEN Online Library of Open Access Books https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/61368

This collection of essays, focusing on Europe and beyond, considers the various ways women were able to exercise agency in the Renaissance and early modern period. At this time women faced new constraints but also found new forms of activism. The essays look at how the actions of girls and women could shape their lives and challenge male-dominated institutions in spite of family and social pressures. 

 

Feminisms with Chinese characteristics, edited by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao.

Syracuse, New York : Syracuse University Press  2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.908

 

Feminisms  Chinese

Front cover of Feminisms with Chinese characteristics, edited by Ping Zhu and Hui Faye Xiao.  Syracuse, New York : Syracuse University Press  2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.908

Edited by two academics from US universities, this collection of ten essays and two interviews examines the varying ways Chinese feminist ideas have developed since the mid-1990s. It includes articles by contemporary activists and writers from China to highlight the importance of exploring different interpretations of feminism in a way that is integrated into Chinese culture and history.

 

 

Shakespeare's 'lady editors': a new history of the Shakespearean text, by Molly G. Yarn

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022. British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1605

 

Screenshot 2024-03-01 at 13.37.46

Cover image of Shakespeare's 'lady editors': a new history of the Shakespearean text, by Molly G. Yarn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022. British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.1605

In the tradition of challenging established histories and revealing the work of women who have been left out of history, this book sets out to recover the lives and work of almost seventy women editors. It challenges the received wisdom those who edited Shakespeare’s texts were almost all men up until the late twentieth century. Its alternative perspective takes these women's work seriously in order to change our understanding of how Shakespeare’s works were edited and how we read Shakespeare across time.

 

Family, slavery and love in the early American republic: the essays of Jan Ellen Lewis. Edited by Barry Bienstock, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Peter Onuf.

Williamsburg, Virginia : The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture ; Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2021.  British Library shelfmark YC.2023.a.455

 

Family and slavery

Title page of Family, slavery and love in the early American republic: the essays of Jan Ellen Lewis. YC.2023.a.455

 

Historian Jan Ellen Lewis, who died in 2018,  taught at Rutgers University-Newark for over four decades.  Her studies of gender, emotions, and the family transformed understandings of the early American republic.  She was a renowned scholar of colonial and early national history, focusing on the intersections between gender, race and politics.  She was also known for championing the career progress of students and colleagues.   This collection, brought together by her husband Barry Bienstock, along with colleagues Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf, contains thirteen of her most important essays, along with critical interpretation and contextual discussion by fellow historians.

 

The ten books picked out here - just a few of the diverse approaches to women's history -  also have in common the fact that they were received by the Library under Legal Deposit. This is the requirement that publishers should deposit a copy of each book published or distributed in the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland with the British Library, and it remains a key means through which the Library builds its collections.  Just over half of the books received each year under Legal Deposit come into the Library in print, whilst slightly less than half are received in electronic format.  Our contemporary printed collections are also built through purchase and donation.  The Library is still able to receive Legal Deposit copies in print format.  Electronic deposit is yet to be restored but has been identified as a priority. 

 

 

 

31 July 2023

Historical census publications of Africa, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands: 'Unlocking our Hidden Collections'

 

The British Library acquires material at a rapid rate, and this has resulted in areas where material cannot be catalogued promptly soon after its arrival. This prevents discovery and access by readers, effectively ‘hiding’ the material away. In response to this, the Unlocking our Hidden Collections initiative aims to clear cataloguing backlogs, process donated material, and upgrade already existing bibliographic records, making the material 'visible' once more.

 

Swaziland 1956 1

Front cover of the Swaziland census 1956. Credits: Swaziland census 1956 shelfmark C.S.D.475/1.

There are several collections being worked on under this umbrella including  Archives by Women Musicians, the Tony Benn Archive: Correspondence and personal papers, Cotton charters and rolls, and the Harley Manuscripts (post 1600).

The Government and Official Information group at the British Library also has a collection joining this exciting line up, the Historical Census Publications of Africa, the West Indies, and Pacific Islands; which is comprised of 18th and 19th century publications and was donated by the Office for National Statistics in the late 1990s. Up to now the material has not been fully accessioned and catalogued.

With the commencement of the Hidden Collections project, these items are being sorted and catalogued, so that readers will now be able to access this intriguing material via the Library's main catalogue Explore the British Library.  The main focus is to process items from Africa, the West Indies, and the Pacific Islands.  

But this work will also reveal and allow us to catalogue material from other areas, because when the material was first accepted it was listed and stored in boxes containing a mix of items, for example the Gold Coast with Canada, or Malawi with Ireland, resulting in a mix of locales. Many of these areas went through periods of upheaval and change during the 18th and 19th centuries  – from world wars and other conflicts, to the end of colonial rule and establishing independence as separate nations.


The first item to be catalogued from these donated publications as part of the Hidden Collections Programme was the Swaziland census of 1956, which was one of the last censuses carried out in the country before it regained independence in 1968.

Swaziland 1956 2

Introductory paragraph of the Swaziland census 1956. Credits: Swaziland census 1956 shelfmark C.S.D.475/1.

During this time Swaziland was governed by a resident Commissioner who worked with the white settlers, the Swazi ruler, and the British High Commissioner to South Africa. Following Swaziland’s involvement in the Second World War, and some unpopular decrees made by the Commissioners, in 1952 the Swazi paramount chief was given a degree of autonomy that had been unheard of in the indirect British rule in Africa.

While the census document itself may look unassuming, inside it is filled with tables that give an insight into the lives of people living in Swaziland in 1956 as the country was being prepared for independence. For example, there are tables that measure the population growth of Swaziland against other regions, before going on to list the demographics of age, sex, residence, occupation, and it also contains comparative tables of the African population compared to the Euro-African population.

As the project has continued it has become evident that this census material is a true mix of cultures, spanning the globe from New Zealand to Lesotho, to Malta to Jamaica, to Argentina to Canada, and everywhere in between.


The mix of material has thrown up different challenges to be met along the way. One of the first encountered was how to approach censuses that had been bound together, whether to catalogue the item as a whole or to treat each census as an individual item.

Gold coast

Spine of an item with three census years listed, culminating in four different documents in need of cataloguing. The 1921 census can also be found at C.S.C.378/4., and the 1931 census at C.S.C.378. Credits: Gold Coast 1911, 1921, 1931 shelfmark OPE.2023.x.59.

Other headscratchers have been about what the correct approach should be for censuses published as a Parliamentary Sessional Paper, or in a Gazette, or in a supplement to that Gazette, or published in a supplement to a bulletin for the census of a completely different country. There are a lot of different ways to publish a census, and not just as a simple monograph.

However, there have been some fantastic finds within the material donated by the Office for National Statistics. Highlights have included additional volumes from the Mauritius 1983 census (CSD.384/63) and the Commonwealth Caribbean 1970 census (CSF.157/60) which have been added to our existing holdings. A census new to our collections was that for Nigeria in 1963. This census was the last taken before the civil war of 1967-70, and the 1973 census was cancelled amid controversy and accusations of inaccuracies in the counting.


There has also been the first census of Malta taken in 1842, which unlike most we have received was conducted not by a Statistics or Census Office, but instead by the Chief Inspector of Police. Another item of note was a very interesting census for the Western Pacific Islands in 1911. While geographically expansive, it was incredibly short – with most of the islands having a single sentence census: “Island was empty at this time.”

Labuan 1881

The first page from the handwritten census of Labuan in 1881. Credits: [Report on the census of Labuan and its dependencies taken in 1881], shelfmark OPG.2023.x.8 (1)

 

Some of the best finds though have been the handwritten censuses, such as the Gambian census of 1901, or that of Norfolk Island in 1891. There was also the census of Labuan in 1881, a tiny island near the coast of Borneo that was uninhabited until it came into the hands of the British who constructed a port there, although how it came to be under British control is a matter of some debate. Some stories involve pirates, and others hostage taking and cannon fire. Later the censuses of this island became folded into that of North Borneo, and were published in the Official Gazette.

As the Hidden Collections Programme progresses, more of this material will become accessible.  Its eclectic mix of locales and publication methods serves to highlight the incredibly varied census publications already in the collection, as well as some great new additions.

 

Vikki Greenwood

Cataloguer, Hidden Collections Project

 

11 July 2023

Animals and social justice: readings on animals in literature

From 7 March – 9 July 2023 the British Library Treasures Gallery has had a small exhibition ‘From the Margins to the Mainstream: Animal Rights in Britain’, which follows the progression of animal rights from the enlightenment period until the present day.

 

To complement the exhibition guest Kim Stallwood, a highly respected international figure in animal welfare, has written a series of four blog posts of his own thoughts and opinions on key themes connected with animal rights in Britain and around the world. The articles are based on his own reading and research and aim to highlight some of the books held at the British Library that have helped shape his view. In 2022, the Library acquired the Kim Stallwood Archive and a few of the items from the collection are included in the exhibition.

 

The four posts in this series focus on ‘Animals and the Climate Emergency’, ‘Animals and Feminism’, ‘Animals and the Law’, ‘Animals and Social Justice’.

 

16-may-Composite_Kim-Stallwood

Copyright: Paul Knight, Image Courtesy of Kim Stallwood (2023)

 

Guest writer Kim Stallwood writes his final guest blog about books held at the British Library that have helped shape his understanding of the importance of animal rights in social justice:

 

Janina Duszejko lives alone in rural Poland near the Czech border. She teaches in a local school in the nearby town. She loves nature, particularly the woods where she lives, and supplements her income by maintaining nearby cabins owned by part-time summer residents. A vegetarian and supporter of animal rights, she mourns the disappearance of her two beloved dogs. She perseveres with her studies in astrology and continues to translate with her friend Dizzy the English poet William Blake (1757 – 1827). Studying helps her to grieve. She believes it may reveal what happened to her dogs. Or, indeed, the local hunters dead in suspicious circumstances.

 

Duszejko is the protagonist in the novel Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead (Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk, London: Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018, shelfmark DRT ELD.DS.325469), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2018. The book was originally published in Tokarczuk’s native language, Polish, in 2009 called Prowadź Swój Pług Prez Kości Umarłych (Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych, Olga Tokarczuk, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2009, shelfmark YF.2010.a.22348). Tokarczuk is recognised for her ‘narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.’

        

Drive your plow over the bones of the dead cover

Polish Drive your plow Cover

Front covers of the English version of Drive your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and original Polish version Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych by Olga Tokarczuk. Credit: English: Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk, London: Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2018, shelfmark ELD.DS.325469 and Polish: Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych, Olga Tokarczuk, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2009, shelfmark YF.2010.a.22348

 

Novels entertain with their narrative imaginations. They engage readers with an infinite variety of human experiences. But, considering this is a guest post for The British Library’s Social Science blog, what has Duszejko’s imagined life got to do with animals and social justice? 

 

I choose not to use, as may be expected, an acclaimed nonfiction book or a trusted textbook to explore animals and social justice. I pick a novel instead. Novels often explore themes of social justice. Think Dickens or Dostoevsky, Toni Morrison or Alice Walker. But what of fiction about animals and social justice? Perhaps few people would consider the plight of animals a social justice issue. But clearly both the prize-winning author, Tokarczuk, and her narrator Janina, do. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is in the tradition of novels engaging readers with the infinite variety of human-animal experiences. There is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (Black Beauty, Anna Sewell, London: Oxford University Press, 1931, shelfmark 012199.e.4/49). Hackenfeller's Ape by Brigid Brophy (Hackenfeller's Ape, Brigid Brophy, London: Secker & Warburg, 1964, shelfmark X.907/1310). The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary (The Roots of Heaven, Romain Gary, pseud. Romain Kassef, London: White Lion Publishers, 1973, shelfmark X.989/19402). A Tiger for Malgudi by R K Narayan (A tiger for Malgudi, R.K. Narayan, London: Heinemann, 1983, shelfmark Nov.48695). Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons by J M Coetzee (Elizabeth Costello: eight lessons, J.M. Coetzee, Leicester: W.F. Howes, 2004, shelfmark LT.2013.x.1797), which won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay (The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay, Brunswick, Victoria: Scribe, 2020, shelfmark ELD.DS.497335), winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature and Victorian Premier's Prize for Fiction in Australia in 2021.

 

Book spines close

Book spine covers of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Hackenfeller's Ape by Brigid Brophy, The Roots of Heaven by Romain Gary, A Tiger for Malgudi by R K Narayan, and Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons by J M Coetzee. Credit: Black Beauty, Anna Sewell, London: Oxford University Press, 1931, shelfmark 012199.e.4/49. Hackenfeller's Ape, Brigid Brophy, London: Secker & Warburg, 1964, shelfmark X.907/1310, The Roots of Heaven, Romain Gary, pseud. Romain Kassef, London: White Lion Publishers, 1973, shelfmark X.989/19402, A tiger for Malgudi,  R.K. Narayan, London: Heinemann, 1983, shelfmark Nov.48695, and Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons, J.M. Coetzee, Leicester: W.F. Howes, 2004, shelfmark LT.2013.x.1797.

 

As you can see, animals are not an alien species to questions of social justice. Justice is sought in these books as imagined in society, respectively for horses; an imagined nonhuman primate sent into space; African elephants; a wild-caught tiger performing in a circus ring; and animals generally. Sewell and Narayan imagine the lives of animals and their stories as told by a horse and a tiger. The others are from our human perspective. I am fascinated by how novels with animal protagonists provoke our imaginations and jump-start our minds. (But, what of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) you ask? I refuse to include it. It is not a book about them. It is about us.)

 

The Animals in That Country Cover

Front cover of The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay. Credit The Animals in That Country, Laura Jean McKay, Brunswick, Victoria: Scribe, 2020, shelfmark ELD.DS.497335

 

In Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Tokarczuk writes a whodunit served with an order of animal ethics. Duszejko speculates that the deer in the woods and the foxes freed from a fur farm have killed the hunters in revenge. Duszejko describes how Dizzy finds a video they watch on the Internet:

A handsome Stag attacks a hunter. We see it standing on its hind legs, striking the Man with its front hooves. The hunter falls over, but the Animal doesn’t stop, it stamps on him in a fury, it doesn’t give him a chance to crawl away on his knees. (Tokarczuk, 2019, p.224)

 

‘The World Turned Upside Down’ is a folkloric tradition where songs and art reverse power roles from human to human and human to animal. Women serenade men and give them roses. Working-class men instruct upper-class men to do manual work. Horses sit in carriages drawn by men, and even animal to animal when sheep chase lions.

 

Would animals do to us what we do to them? Would they fight back? (As they do in Gene Stone and Jon Doyle’s The Awareness (The Awareness, Gene Stone, Jon Doyle, New York: The Stone Press, 2014), when all animals suddenly gain conscious awareness of human domination.) Do they resist? What if humans and animals and their place in society were reversed? Is this what is meant by animals and social justice?

 

The Awareness

Front cover of The Awareness by Gene Stone and Jon Doyle. Credit: The Awareness, Gene Stone, Jon Doyle, New York: The Stone Press, 2014

 

In this series of guest posts, I have explained why animals matter in the climate emergency. Industrial agriculture may have provided us with cheap food in a lifetime but we need to move away from chemical-dependent, intensive factory farming to reduce the impact of climate change. I described the spaghetti junction of patriarchy, sexism, racism, capitalism, speciesism, and how the intersection of oppressions maintains its power and control, preventing us from establishing a caring society for all. I argued the greatest challenge facing the animal rights movement is making the moral and legal status of animals a mainstream political issue. Going vegan and speaking out for animals are important steps for people to take. But optional lifestyle choices must be complemented with initiatives that seek institutional, political, and legal change for animals.

 

In short, animal rights is social justice. The animal rights movement is a social justice movement. Novelists know it. So do some advocates. Our work is to make this everyday common sense. Animals are part of society. They deserve social justice.

 

Not wanting to give away what happened to Duszejko’s dogs or reveal any other spoilers, I urge you to read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

 

Read books. Change the world.

 

CC-BY Kim Stallwood is a vegan animal rights author and independent scholar. The British Library acquired the Kim Stallwood Archive in 2020. He is a consultant with Tier im Recht, the Swiss-based animal law organisation, and on the board of directors of the US-based Culture and Animals Foundation.

 

References

Brophy B. (1964) Hackenfeller's Ape, London: Secker & Warburg, shelfmark X.907/1310

 

Coetzee, J.M. (2004) Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons, Leicester: W.F. Howes, shelfmark LT.2013.x.1797

 

Gary R. (1973) The Roots of Heaven, London: White Lion Publishers, shelfmark X.989/19402.

 

Mckay, L. (2020) The Animals in That Country, Brunswick, Victoria: Scribe, shelfmark ELD.DS.497335

 

Narayan, R.K. (1983) A Tiger for Malgudi, London: Heinemann, shelfmark Nov.48695

 

Orwell, G. (1949) Animal farm, London: Secker & Warburg, shelfmark YA.1989.a.17407

 

Sewell, A. (1931) Black Beauty, London: Oxford University Press, shelfmark 012199.e.4/49

 

Stone, G., Doyle J. (2014) The Awareness, New York: The Stone Press

 

Tokarczuk, O. (2009) Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, shelfmark YF.2010.a.22348

 

Tokarczuk, O. translated Lloyd-Jones, A. (2018) Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, London: Fitzcarraldo Editions, shelfmark ELD.DS.325469

07 June 2023

Animals and the law: readings on animal rights law

From 7 March – 9 July 2023 the British Library Treasures Gallery has a small exhibition ‘From the Margins to the Mainstream: Animal Rights in Britain’, which follows the progression of animal rights from the enlightenment period until the present day.

 

To complement the exhibition, guest writer Kim Stallwood, a highly respected international figure in animal welfare, has written a series of four blog posts of his own thoughts and opinions on key themes connected with animal rights in Britain and around the world. The articles are based on his own reading and research, and aim to highlight some of the books held at the British Library that have helped shape his view. In 2022, the Library acquired the Kim Stallwood Archive and a few of the items from the collection are included in the exhibition.

 

The four posts in this series focus on ‘Animals and the Climate Emergency’, ‘Animals and Feminism’, ‘Animals and the Law’, ‘Animals and Social Justice’.

 

Guest writer Kim Stallwood writes about books held at the British Library that have helped shape his understanding of the history of animal rights law:

16-may-Composite_Kim-Stallwood

Copyright: Paul Knight, Image Courtesy of Kim Stallwood (2023)

 

Animals are considered as property only,’ said one of our parliamentarians in a House of Lords debate about cruelty to farmed animals. ‘[T]o destroy or abuse them, from malice to the proprietor, or with an intention injurious to his interest in them, is criminal; but the animals themselves are without protection; the law regards them not substantively; they have no rights!’ It is reasonable to assume this remark is from a recent debate, but you would be wrong. It was made by a former Lord Chancellor, Lord Erskine, in 1809. The occasion was the discussion of a bill he introduced to ‘prevent malicious and wanton cruelty to animals.’ That bill failed, but many laws on the treatment of animals have come onto the statute books since Lord Erskine spoke those still resonant words more than two hundred years ago.

 

Yet, do these laws protect animals? Or do they serve the needs of those who own them? Do laws stop people from cruelly treating and killing animals? Or do they give them a licence to use and abuse them? These questions are front and centre in the debate about animals and the law today.

 

Laws reflect society’s values. The established hierarchy of human superiority over animals ensures the interests of the former prevail at the latter’s expense. Every law throughout the world reflects human dominance over animals. The impact of laws relating to animals varies depending upon various factors, including the species addressed, the robustness of the enforcement, and exemptions excluding animals from the law’s protection.

 

ADDA defends the animals

‘ADDA: Defends the Animals’ magazine, Special Issue No.1, 1992, Add MS 89458/4/31. Credit: Association for the Defense of Animal Rights (ADDA)

 

Some laws outlaw particular animal abuse. For example, the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 banned raising animals for their fur in England and Wales in 2003. The European Union banned leg hold traps in 1991, sow stalls in 2001, and the marketing and testing of animals for cosmetics in 2013. But in the United States, the federal Animal Welfare Act regulating animals in research excludes the species most used (rats, mice, and birds), and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act exempts chickens, the species most killed for food. This patchwork approach results in anomalies. Why should cats living in our homes receive greater legal protections than those in research laboratories? The laws relating to cats should be the same everywhere. Penalties for transgressing laws protecting animals are not meaningful and need strengthening to reinforce their role as deterrents. In cases of human-on-human violence, including spousal and child abuse, the perpetrator often has a history of animal cruelty.

 

What will the next 200 years bring for animals and the law?

 

A fundamental shift in animal law is overdue. From a culture of laws licensing how humans can abuse animals, we need a new wave of legislation recognising animals as having moral and legal rights. The industries, institutions, and governments profiting from institutionalised, commercial exploitation of animals can no longer be the judge and jury over animals and the law.

 

The legal status of animals is as property, not as sentient beings with legal standing. But public opinion about animals is changing. Increasing numbers of protests against animal cruelty, louder calls for animal rights, and emerging consumer markets in all things vegan are exciting developments over the last few decades. A shift in public opinion and behaviour is underway. Further, the academic study of animal law is establishing itself as a credible, recognised field in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. For example, Harvard, Stanford, and New York Universities all have animal law programs. The longest standing, the Centre for Animal Law Studies, is at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, OR, and was established in 2008. Tier im Recht (TIR), the animal law non-profit organisation in Zurich, Switzerland, was founded in 1995. Switzerland is unique in that it is the only country whose constitution recognises the dignity of animals. ‘In animal law we ask fundamental questions about the nature of a legal right or interest,’ writes Vanessa Gerritsen, an attorney with TIR. ‘[H]ow laws create or entrench (power) imbalances, and – most importantly – how those imbalances impact animals.’

 

Journal of animal welfare law

Journal of Animal Welfare Law, Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare (ALAW), 2005, Add MS 89458/4/31. Credit: Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare (ALAW)

 

Such initiatives as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) and the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law (CCARL) are breaking new ground. NhRP is the only civil rights organisation in the United States dedicated solely to securing rights for nonhuman animals. It brings lawsuits on behalf of chimpanzees and elephants, to challenge the ‘archaic, unjust legal status quo that views and treats all non-human animals as “things” with no rights.’ CCARL is an ‘academic centre of competence dedicated to the study of fundamental rights for non-human animals.’ The centre’s co-founders, Sean C Butler and Raffael N Fasel, are authors of a new textbook, Animal Rights Law (Animal Rights Law, Raffael N. Fasel, Sean C. Butler, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2023, shelfmark DRT ELD.DS.750407) that I highly recommend. They write, ‘this textbook is about whether and how the law should adapt to accommodate and enable the changes we are seeing in public understanding and opinion, in litigation and law reform proposals, as well as in legal education.’

Animal rights law cover

Front cover of  Animal Rights Law by Raffael N. Fasel and Sean C. Butler. Credit: Animal Rights Law, Raffael N. Fasel, Sean C. Butler, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2023, shelfmark ELD.DS.750407

 

Lord Erskine spoke out again on behalf of animals in the Lords in a debate about another bill on farmed animal welfare that did become law. The Bill to prevent the cruel and improper Treatment of Cattle (aka Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act) became law in 1822. It is known as the Martin’s Act after its sponsor, the Irishman Richard Martin, the MP for Galway. It became the first animal welfare law passed by an elected government. The Culture & Animals Foundation celebrated its bicentenary by producing, ‘Martin’s Act at 200’, a six-part audio documentary. Martin was also present at a meeting of prominent humanitarians at Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in London that led to the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1824. The SPCA received its Royal patronage from Queen Victoria in 1840 and became the RSPCA.

 

Culture_and_animals_foundation

Pamphlet from The Culture & Animals Foundation, 1992, Add MS 89458/4/78. Credit: The Culture & Animals Foundation

 

Public opinion is moving ahead of the law, waiting for governments to catch up and pass legislation. Sometimes parliaments act before the people make up their minds. The greatest challenge facing the animal rights movement is making the moral and legal status of animals a mainstream political issue. Going vegan and speaking out for animals are important steps for people to take. However, optional lifestyle choices must be complemented with initiatives that seek institutional, political, and legal change for animals.

 

Read books. Change the world.

 

CC-BY Kim Stallwood is a vegan animal rights author and independent scholar. The British Library acquired the Kim Stallwood Archive in 2020. He is a consultant with Tier im Recht, the Swiss-based animal law organisation, and on the board of directors of the US-based Culture and Animals Foundation.

 

References

 

Butler, S., Fasel, R. (2023) Animal Rights Law, Oxford: Hart Publishing, shelfmark ELD.DS.750407