Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Chagos islanders in Mauritius and the UK

Adrian Jackson, a writer and director, who set up the theatre company Cardboard Citizens, appeared on the BBC’s Midweek programme this morning. He discussed his latest play, A Few Man Fridays, which tells the story of how the British Government evicted 2000 islanders from the Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean during the cold war to make way for a US military base.

Those interested in the forced displacement and onward migration of Chagos islanders, will find Laura Jeffery’s book Chagos islanders in Mauritius and the UK of great interest. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Mauritius and Crawley (West Sussex), the six chapters explore Chagossians’ challenging lives in Mauritius, the mobilisation of the community, reformulations of the homeland, the politics of culture in exile, onward migration to Crawley, and attempts to make a home in successive locations. Jeffery illuminates how displaced people romanticise their homeland through an exploration of changing representations of the Chagos Archipelago in song lyrics.

Adrian Jackson’s interview on Midweek can be listened to again on iPlayer.

A review of A Few Man Fridays can be found here.


Britain and Africa under Blair, by Julia Gallagher, will be launched on 2nd March at the Brunei Gallery, University of London.

Gallagher's book is an authoritative account of British policy in Africa during the Tony Blair premiership. It draws on over fifty interviews with key government officials, ministers and politicians including Clare Short, Chris Mullin, Jenny Tonge and John Bercow.

More details can be found here or email if you would like to attend.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Philip Abrams Memorial Prize

Congratulations to Michaela Benson, whose title, The British in Rural France, from our New Ethnographies series, has been shortlisted for the Philip Abrams Memorial Prize.

The Philip Abrams Memorial Prize, run by the British Sociological Association, is awarded to the best first and sole-authored book within the discipline of Sociology. The winner will be notified in March, and will be invited to attend the BSA Annual Conference, which is to be held at the University of Leeds on 11th – 13th April 2012.

Dr Alexander Smith, Series Editor of the New Ethnographies series comments,

'I am absolutely delighted that Michaela Benson's book 'The British in Rural France' has been shortlisted for the Philip Abrams Memorial Prize, the competition for which was, from all accounts, especially tough this year. Making the shortlist is not only a wonderful achievement for Dr Benson but also an endorsement of her research and writing as being at the leading edge of the discipline, setting the agenda amongst those conducting sociological research into lifestyle migration. Her achievement is also clear recognition of Manchester University Press' commitment to publishing ethnographic monographs of the highest quality through our New Ethnographies book series.

We will now be keeping our fingers crossed and wish Dr Benson the best of luck in the remainder of the competition.'

To celebrate, we’re offering a special 20% discount on copies of The British in Rural France, and all other titles in the New Ethnographies series. A full list of titles in the New Ethnographies series is available on our website. To take advantage of this special offer, available for one week only, simply contact NBN International on +44 (0)1752 202301, or email your order to, and quote the discount code OTH276 (Expires 28th Feb).

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Watch John M. MacKenzie's lecture 'The Four Nations: Wales and the British Empire in Context'

Professor emeritus of imperial history, John M. MacKenzie recently gave a public lecture titled ‘The Four Nations: Wales and the British Empire in Context' at Swansea University. If you would like to view this lecture, please click on the link below. The lecture was followed with the launch of Wales and the British overseas empire by H.V. Bowen

Click here to watch lecture. Link

Monday, 13 February 2012

Public Private Partnerships in Ireland

By Rory Hearne

My recently published book Public Private Partnerships in Ireland emerged from research I had been doing as part of my PhD in Trinity College. I was investigating the impacts of globalisation on lower income populations and came across literature (Harvey, Monbiot, Stiglitz) that was critical of the impact of the neoliberal policies of privatisation. While high profile privatisations of state run services and infrastructure such as water and transport had been researched there was the emergence of a critical body of work that focused on a hybrid type privatisation that was being implemented as part of a ‘third way’ approach. These Public Private Partnerships, or Private Finance Initiatives, as they are known in the UK, were first implemented in the early 1990s in Britain and since then came to be adopted by Governments across the world. These were introduced as a new method of service and infrastructure delivery that involved a partnership between the state and the private sector. They would, their supporters stated, introduce the efficiencies of the private sector into public service delivery, transfer the risk of projects running into problems over to the private sector, and obtain greater finance for investment in public infrastructure and services. However, problems arose for all stakeholders -the service users, public sector providers and private companies in the PFI projects in the UK. The outcomes of some of these projects are detailed by authors such as Pollock and Monbiot.

PPPs were only being introduced in Ireland in the early 2000s, and as a result, little research had been undertaken into their outcomes by the time I was doing my research. Given the international outcomes and their potential social implications I decided to analyse a number of the PPP projects in Ireland to see whether similar trends were emerging as in the UK and other countries. I wanted to find out how effective they really were, who was benefitting and whether they were having a transformative impact on the role of the welfare state and lower income populations in Ireland. As a student of geography in Trinity College I had covered topics such as housing markets, social housing, urban planning, theories of the state, social policy, globalisation, economic development, and various political economy approaches. These provided me with a grounding for theorising and analysing this new form of public service and infrastructure delivery on both a micro-project and macro-political-economy level. The economic boom of the Celtic Tiger period in Ireland (1996-2008) meant there was little traction for critical intellectual analysis of social and economic policy and trends. The concepts of market failure were downplayed and ignored by the Irish state. When the inevitable bust came it was the poorest sections of society that were most impacted by the market failure within PPPs. This is detailed in my chapter on the Regeneration of Social Housing Estates. The book also details the critical role that infrastructure plays in economic growth and societal development. Spending reductions in the 1980s in Ireland in health, transport, housing and education had long term negative consequences that emerged in the boom when the infrastructure could not cope with the level of population and economic growth. It appears, however that the lessons of this period are being forgotten as the austerity plans of the current Government which have involved radical reductions in levels of public capital infrastructure investment. My book shows, however, that the critical social and economic infrastructure deficits are potential employment and growth opportunities.

Overall then the book and my research does point to the downsides of this PPP form of privatisation. In some instances, the commercial providers cut corners to boost their returns to shareholders. Disputes between public and private service providers arose over the implementation of the contract covering the delivery of the services and infrastructure. These were lengthy and resulted in a significant cost to the exchequer and the private companies. Reform of public service delivery is required to make services more accountable and effective in meeting social and economic need. However, the outcomes of PPPs as a model of reform suggest that caution should be exercised towards further roll out. Other models such as non-profit making and voluntary organisations being involved in public partnerships should be investigated and could offer more favourable outcomes.

The process of writing the book was a difficult one at times but I was motivated by a hope that highlighting these issues would help improve the effectiveness of public services as key components of creating a more sustainable, equitable and efficient social, economic and political landscape. The review and editing process was hard work but thanks to all in MUP for the support in getting it ‘over the line’, so to speak!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Happy birthday François Truffaut

Competition time

Today would have been François Truffaut 80th birthday. Truffaut (6 February 1932 - 21 October 1984) was an influential, filmmaker, critic and one of the founders of the French New Wave. He was also a screenwriter, producer, and actor, who worked on over twenty-five films.

To celebrate, we’re offering blog readers the opportunity to win a copy of François Truffaut, by Diana Holmes and Robert Ingram. This was the first title to be published in the renowned French Film Director series, and is a concise, accessible and original reading of Truffaut's films.

‘A clear, well documented, and captivating study of this important cineaste.’
Keri Berg, French Review

To enter the competition, simply email your answer to this question,

Which Truffant film is often credited with beginning the French New Wave movement?

The competition closes at 5pm on 9th February. Good luck everyone!

Friday, 3 February 2012

My time as a work experience intern at MUP

By Jamie Bytheway

I had several brief encounters with the MUP team prior to my work experience (at the Manchester Book Market) and therefore sort of knew what to expect; lots of books, a chance to learn new skills and maybe even a pint.

On my first day I was in the editorial department with Sarah Hunt and Tony Mason. First off, Tony made me a brew and then gave me more of an insight into what the press actually did and how they operate, with a quick tour round the office and all its Hogwartseque nooks and crannys. The press is much bigger than I realised and has a much higher output than I expected of is eighteen staff.

My work in the editorial department mainly consisted of researching reviewers for proposals. I found this extremely interesting as I got to look over about twenty book proposals from topics as wide ranging as Terrorism to Italian-American boxing to Renaissance art, and felt like I was gaining a sense of how books are conceived. I also got to look over completed manuscripts which were ready to handover to production to check nothing fundamental was missing at this stage. I would have really liked the chance to go to an editorial meeting, but unfortunately there wasn’t one scheduled during my time at MUP.

My day in production was probably the most challenging, yet valuable day of my work experience. In the morning I looked over a revise and compared it to the original in order to check for any mistakes and to check all the changes suggested had been incorporated by the copy-editor. In the afternoon I looked over a final proof, which was much more difficult as it was much more refined than the revise, luckily (for me) I still found a couple of mistakes! Production is a very challenging environment as it requires complete concentration, and when working on an interesting title there is the temptation to just read the words rather than to check them. However, it was also a very valuable experience as I learnt about the international proofing marks, the secret code of proof-readers!

My final day was spent upstairs in the marketing department. I spent the beginning of the morning compiling mail-outs for new authors to inform them of the marketing process. The morning finished with a meeting regarding the new website. I found this useful as it was my first experience of an official meeting in a work environment, and valuable experience for my current full-time job in marketing. Lunch consisted of a quick sandwich and a pint at the local pub, which proved a great chance to ask more in-depth questions, especially to staff I had not worked with directly. In the afternoon I helped consolidate a database of images for the new website. My day in marketing was enjoyable as I found the work was very varied.

I really enjoyed my time at MUP as it offered valuable, real work experience, and gave me the opportunity to develop essential industry skills. This kind of work experience is difficult to get within the publishing sector, and therefore I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the staff of MUP for letting me come and work alongside them.