Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Geoff Pearson comments on the latest behaviour of football fans and social media

As the football season around Europe got underway, two stories relating to match-going fan behaviour and social media hit the headlines. At Old Trafford, Manchester United announced that fans would not be able to bring IPads or other tablets into the stadium, citing rather unconvincing security concerns.  Meanwhile, Dutch club PSV Eindhoven were announcing what they thought would be welcome news – the arrival of Wifi in their stadium. However it was this second policy that drew to most complaints.


Both stories tapped into the concerns of many match-going fans about the continuing gentrification of football support. Many United fans reacted with delight that tablets were being banned – although in their view not for the right reason. The sight of ‘tourist’ fans holding up IPads and filming matches has annoyed many fans who believe that football support should be about getting behind the team rather than taking videos to prove ‘I was there’. At PSV, fans orchestrated a protest at the introduction of Wifi, making a similar point: football fandom is about actively and vocally supporting the team, rather than spending the game checking Twitter or uploading selfies. The PSV fans also protested against stewards telling them to sit down at matches, again claiming that this was lessening the ‘atmosphere’ at matches.


Traditional match-going fans have been resisting the commercialisation and gentrification of football for many years now, and protests and organisation fan movements to improve atmosphere in grounds are becoming more common (for example the recent introduction of a ‘singing section’ at Old Trafford and the activities of Crystal Palace’s ‘Holmesdale Fanatics’ and Celtic’s ‘Green Brigade’). The number of fans standing at matches is also on the rise, as is the use of pyrotechnics – an irritation to the authorities but potentially also the start of a wider fan rebellion against ‘modern football’.


We should not forget of course that these fan groups are just a small sub-culture within the wider match-going support of clubs – many fans want to be able to check the internet at matches or upload photos on their tablets for their friends. However, in European football at least, it is the traditional ‘home-and-away’ match-going groups (or ‘carnival fan’ groups) who dominate football culture. Their voice is always heard the loudest, as well as usually being respected by other fan sub-cultures who may not join in but enjoy watching the match in a colourful, noisy and vibrant atmosphere.


The irony in both the PSV and United stories is that actually these carnival fan groups are typically big users of social media to encourage atmosphere, arrange meeting points at matches, secure tickets, build internal social cohesion, and actively promote their mode of fandom as being ‘authentic’ to a wider audience. For re-living previous matches and building up to the next fixture, social networks and the internet are now essential, it’s just that on the whole they would prefer match-day focus to be on the ‘serious business’ of getting behind the team on the pitch.


Dr Geoff Pearson

Director of Studies (MBA Football Industries)

Senior Lecturer in Sports Management and Law
University of Liverpool, Management School

An ethnography of English football fans is now available in paperback in the New Ethnographies series.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Vanishing for the vote - census schedules

1911 was a time of frenzied political activity - including of course the Votes for Women campaigns. With the Liberal government's forcible feeding of hunger-striking suffragettes in prison now in its second year, militant suffragette organizations called for a boycott of the census. Many did support the boycott.

The following 18 census schedules detail responses of those who refused to sign - 'no vote, no census'. 


Vanishing for the vote recounts what happened on one night, Sunday 2 April, 1911, when the Liberal government demanded every household comply with its census requirements. Suffragette organisations urged women, all still voteless, to boycott this census.

The book plunges the reader into the turbulent world of Edwardian politics, so vividly recorded on census night 1911. Based on a wealth of brand-new documentary evidence, it offers compelling reading for history scholars and general readers alike.

Sumptuously produced, with 50 illustrations and an invaluable Gazetteer of suffrage campaigners.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

New CEO for Manchester University Press

Manchester University Press is delighted to announce that after an international search and appointment process Dr Frances Pinter has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Manchester University Press (MUP).

Dr Frances Pinter

Friday, 7 February 2014

British Queer History

As we celebrate this year’s LGBT History month, we should commemorate an important milestone in the struggle for gay rights. 2014 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the setting up of the Wolfenden Committee—or, to give it its full title, the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution, chaired by Sir John Wolfenden, Vice Chancellor of Reading University. In 1954, Winston Churchill’s Conservative government was worried about homosexuality for numerous reasons. These included a recent spike in prosecutions for homosexual offences thanks to more vigorous policing; greater public awareness of homosexuality spread by the popular press; increased medical, scientific and religious questioning of sexual deviance over the previous decades; public order concerns about the state of London’s streets, and the prevalence of cruising and prostitution, especially around the time of the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953; ripples from the Cold War, equating homosexuality with espionage and treason in the wake of McCarthyism in America and the defection of Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union in 1951; and the high profile trial and imprisonment in 1954 of three prominent men—landowners Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and Michael Pitt-Rivers and the Daily Mail journalist Peter Wildeblood—for having sex with men in private.

The Wolfenden Committee, which consisted of fifteen Establishment figures—twelve men and three women—heard evidence over the next three years. The testimonials and written statements of witnesses before the committee, all of which can be consulted at the National Archives at Kew, provide by far the most complete and extensive array of perspectives we have on how homosexuality was understood in Britain in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Those giving evidence, individually or through their professional associations, included: police chiefs, policemen, magistrates, judges, lawyers and Home Office civil servants; doctors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and biologists (including Alfred Kinsey, the author of the famous Kinsey Reports into male and female sexuality in the US); prison governors, medical officers and probation officers; representatives of the churches, morality councils and progressive and ethical societies; schoolteachers and youth organization leaders; representatives of the army, navy and air force; and three self-confessed homosexuals (two of them anonymous): Peter Wildeblood, Patrick Trevor-Roper (a distinguished eye surgeon) and Carl Winter (Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge).

The range of opinions varied between those (mainly in the law enforcement community) who favoured continued criminalization of gay sex, and those (mainly in medical, religious and ethical ranks) who tended to believe that homosexuality was a medical, not a legal, problem, that it was either innate (as sexologists like Havelock Ellis would have it) or acquired at some stage during childhood development (the Freudian perspective). In addition to these pronouncements, there is much fascinating information in the Wolfenden archive about the multifarious attempts at discovering aetiologies and prescribing treatments, and about the policing of public sex and of cottaging—even a set of instructions on how to conduct physical examinations for sodomy in the Royal Navy. There are also many case studies of homosexuals and how they lived their lives. The focus is on men since the law was silent on sex between women, but occasionally some of these expert commentators shared their thoughts on lesbians as well.

The Wolfenden Report came out in 1957. It recommended that homosexual sex between two males over the age of 21 in private be decriminalized, drawing a very firm public/private distinction, and that (female) street prostitution be more strictly regulated. The latter was acted upon swiftly, but it took another decade before the gay sex suggestions were enacted, in the Sexual Offences Act of 1967. Regardless, Wolfenden has long been recognized as a landmark in moves towards gay law reform. But scholarly opinion has been divided. Some see the report as merely opening up a limited space for respectable, domesticated, straight-acting homosexuals, clamping down upon public expressions of homosexuality and a diverse array of queer acts and identities. Others see it, in spite of its  limitations, as helping enable the radical politics of the Gay Liberation Front and the flourishing of a vibrant gay commercial culture in the 1970s. So the debate surrounding Wolfenden is still intense. But, whatever one’s perspective, its significance for British Queer History is beyond doubt.

Brian Lewis
Professor of History
McGill University

Monday, 11 November 2013

Released this week, The silent morning

The first book to study the cultural impact of the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

This title, by Trudi Tate and Kate Kennedy, contains 14 new essays from scholars working in literature, music, art history and military history. The Armistice brought hopes for a better future, as well as sadness, disappointment and rage. Many people in all the combatant nations asked hard questions about the purpose of the war. These questions are explored in complex and nuanced ways in the literature, music and art of the period.

The authors revisit the silence of the Armistice, and ask how its effect was to echo into the following decades. The essays are genuinely interdisciplinary and are written in a clear, accessible style.

Special pre-publication offer

The book will be arriving in shops at the end of this week - order your pre-publication copy before 14th November, and receive a special 15% discount. Simply contact NBN International on +44 (0)1752 202301, or email your details to orders@nbninternational.com, quoting the code OTH376 to redeem your discount.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Photos from the launch of The regeneration of East Manchester

Last night, Georgina Blakeley and Brendan Evans, authors of The regeneration of East Manchester hosted a book launch at Manchester Town Hall.  Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, launched the title in front of a large audience.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Memory and Archive (Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon)

MUP author, Ruth Rosengarten, has been busy curating a new exhibition, Between Memory and Archive at the Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon.  The exhibition, which opened on the 3rd July, and lasts for almost 3 months, addresses the relation between the archive and photography in contemporary artistic practice. On the one hand, we have the archive – as a structure for the recording, organisation and classification of memory – determining what is and what is not preserved. On the other hand, there is photography, which is implicated in the recording of specific aspects of the real, redeeming them from oblivion. An exploration of the juxtaposition of these terms defines the scope of Between Memory and Archive, which brings together diverse artists, time frames and geographical settings.

Ruth is the author of Love and Authority in the Work of Paula Rego, a comprehensive exploration of the narrative operations of Rego’s work.  The title confronts, as case studies, three complex figure paintings from different moments in Rego’s oeuvre: The Policeman’s Daughter (1987), The Interrogator’s Garden (2000), and The First Mass in Brazil (1993).

To celebrate the opening of Between Memory and Archive, we’re offering a special 25% discount off Love and Authority in the Work of Paula Rego. To take advantage of this special offer, simply contact our distributors NBN International on +44 (0)1752 202301, or email orders@nbninternational.com, quoting the discount code OTH360 (Offer expires 30/09/2013).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Local democracy, civic engagement and community - Launch photos

Over 50 academic colleagues and friends came together to celebrate the launch of Hugh Atkinson’s latest book Local democracy civic engagement and community; from New Labour to the big society at London South Bank University on 25 April. 

Pictured is Yvette Taylor, professor of sociology at London South Bank, congratulating Hugh on the publication of his book.

Hugh is seen here signing copies of the book which sold out on the night.    

Visit our website for more information about Local democracy, civic engagement and community.

Friday, 24 May 2013

African writers in 2013: what has changed and what hasn't

Pleased as I was to read Taiye Selasi's new novel, Ghana Must Go, I could not help thinking too little has changed since the writers I described in Ending British Rule in Africa struggled to get their books published in London in the 1930s and '40s. Despite the many honors paid to Chinua Achebe on his death, the truth is that writers from sub-Saharan Africa still face great obstacles to getting into print, or, if published in their home countries, drawing attention on the world stage.

Thus one of the "hot" African novels of 2013 may turn out to be this novel by a writer of West African parentage who was born in London, grew up and attended college in the United States, earned a master's degree in England, and now lives in Rome. Like the writers I described in Ending British Rule, living in the urban west has given her a leg up on the ladder to publication.

Of a recent Guardian list of thirteen "African writers" to keep an eye on in 2013, seven live outside Africa, with six of those seven in the United States. Of the other six, three live in South Africa, with its relatively well-developed publishing scene.

There is in this fact something both to grieve and to celebrate. It is sad that sub-Saharan Africa, on the whole, still does not offer a hospitable climate for writers, and not only because publishing economies are not well developed and books too often unaffordable and unavailable. Significant portions of populations cannot read, and those that can may be more likely to read books published only in the colonial languages of English and French than in the rich array of native languages. The arrest of four journalists in Nigeria in April reminds us of another obstacle: life can be politically perilous for African writers.

On the other hand, the increased visibility of work by writers of at least African origin is a cause for celebration. Growing up in Nigeria in the 1950s, though I heard the Bible read in Yoruba in church and sang hymns from Yoruba songbooks, the only book by an African writer I remember reading was a novel by white South African Alan Paton. Igbo writer Chinua Achebe's pathbreaking Things Fall Apart did not appear until 1958, two years before I left Nigeria.

At least now increasing numbers of writers in the African diaspora, experienced in the milieus of two or even three continents, are finding their way to publication. And the internet is opening doors to wider distribution of books by African writers. Booksellers on the web, like the African Books Collective, are making books from African publishers more widely available. A promising new audio book project called e-book Africa has launched with Senegalese writer Boubacar Boris Diop reading his novel Doomi Golo (The Monkey's Kids) in Wolof. There is reason to hope that more African writers in the future will not need to grow up, study, or live abroad in order to find their way to publication and readers, both in their own communities and the larger world.

Professor Carol Polsgrove is author of Ending British rule in Africa: Writers in a common cause

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Gordon Pirie on African colonial aviation hybridity

I have been a victim of the colonial cringe. Even in post-colonial times it has felt strange to be an Africa-based author of books on British imperial aviation. Ought a British historian to have written Air Empire (2009) and Cultures and Caricatures (2012)? How might the analysis have been different? How might it have dealt with Africa?

The research started two decades ago in South Africa, a British Imperial Airways terminus in the 1930s, and an endpoint of second-generation and fabled Cape-to-Cairo journeys. Working in Johannesburg, my academic curiosity collided with childhood fascination with flying. Later, a decade of working in Britain gave access to more archival and library sources and enabled the fleshing out of sketchy ideas based from an out-of-print, second-hand book about Imperial Airways airmailed from the USA, and from a limited range of official reports and correspondence in South African archives and newspapers.

My African roots – and some post-colonial consciousness – predisposed a new point of departure for scrutinising British overseas aviation. Taking up the threads of research critical of railway enterprise in southern Africa, I wanted an ‘outsider’ inquiry to be more than a celebration of another First World technology being applied overseas. Some research experience in a humanist mould also prompted search for the human experiences and meanings of flight, its dissonances, and its representations. The historical geographer in me had to resist that felt impurity too and to fend off thoughts that dyed-in-the-wool metropolitan imperial historians would do a better job. Different, yes.

The proudly multi-disciplinary (hybridised?) end products of the research, the two monographs Air Empire and Cultures and Caricatures, ‘take off’ from the familiar argument that transportation played a significant part in the creation of extractive colonial economies in Africa, and in the culture and symbolism of imperialism there. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, shipping, porterage and railway trains were crucial ‘tools of Empire’ on the continent. In the 1920s and 1930s the technology of aviation seemed set to start a new era of European domination of African communications and trade. Political and commercial interests in Britain were especially hopeful that the speed and reach of commercial flying would prolong and extend British imperial influence in Africa where overland transport was so weakly developed. The dash for air route and market prominence was palpable; the race to beat Dutch and Belgian colonial rivals into African skies echoed old geopolitics.
In practice it was difficult to transfer the infant technology into African spaces where long distances, high altitude, and weather extremes were significant obstacles. Imperial discourses of adventure and conquest resurfaced. Notions of superiority and caricatures of ‘civilisation’ and ‘backwardness’ re-appeared in connection with the new class of aeromobile British citizens and expatriates. Africans, for their part, were variously amazed and phlegmatic about the new mobility they serviced as aircraft cleaners and re-fuelers, airfield labourers, and occasional rescuers of passengers and crews after aircraft accidents in remote places. Africans spoke of ‘white man’s madness’. They used biblical and avian references to comprehend flight; their mechanical innocence made them figures of fun. African people, customs and speech were used as counterpoints for caricatures of modernity associated with flying.

African skies and landing grounds were an important testing ground for the design and implementation of long-distance and intercontinental commercial aviation in late colonial times. The air routes developed across Africa in the 1930s formed the template for decades of air transport on the continent. Just as important, solo and commercial flying to, from and across Africa – and the plentiful writing, illustration and filming associated with it – are a window onto late colonialism in the continent. Stereotyping of place and people persisted: Europeans continued to regard Africa as an imperial playground and resource, and to treat Africans as servants. Colonial resistance to the specifics of the new aviation enterprise was mostly about shouldering expenses imposed by London, and not about African exclusion from the benefits of aviation.

Air Empire and Cultures and Caricatures are not only about British imperial aviation in Africa. They also refer to private and commercial flying in the Middle East, India, South East Asia and Australia. But, because of my own roots and familiarities, Africa does feature prominently. This might not have been the case had the research started in Britain. It might not have been the case had the enquiry begun after electronic access to archive materials in places far from Africa. Yet, attending to the African case as a braid is geographically corrective itself, and is appropriate because of the supposed universal and universalising aspect of air transportation.

There is certainly more to uncover about colonial aviation in Africa from African archive sources. The stage is also now set for research into links between commercial aviation and decolonisation in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. Step forward yet more hybrid researchers?

Gordon Pirie is author of British imperial civil aviation, 1919-39 and Cultures and caricatures of British imperial aviation. He is Deputy Director of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.