Volume 55 part 2 (August 2010)


Marcelo Badaró Mattos. Experiences in Common: Slavery and "Freedom" in the Process of Rio de Janeiro's Working-Class Formation (1850-1910)
The present article is based on research into the process of working-class formation in Rio de Janeiro in the period between the end of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth. It explores the significant shared experiences of workers subjected to slavery and "free" workers in the process of working-class formation and aims to demonstrate that the history of that process in Brazil began while slavery still existed, and that through shared work and life experience in Rio de Janeiro, as in other Brazilian cities where slavery was strong during the nineteenth century, enslaved and "free" workers shared forms of organization and struggle, founding common values and expectations that were to have a central importance in later periods of class formation.

Chris Leonards and Nico Randeraad. Transnational Experts in Social Reform, 1840-1880.
Who were the people at the cutting edge of social reform in Europe between 1840 and 1880, and how were they connected? This article proposes a method to locate a transnational community of experts involved in social reform and focuses on the ways in which these experts shared and spread their knowledge across borders. After a discussion of the concepts of social reform, transnationalization and transfer, we show how we built a database of visitors to social reform congresses in the period 1840-1880, and explain how we extracted a core group of experts from this database. This "congress elite" is the focus of the second part of this article, in which we discuss their travels, congress visits, publications, correspondence, and membership of learned and professional organizations. We argue that individual members of our elite, leaning on the prestige of their international contacts, shaped reform debates in their home countries. We conclude by calling for further research into the influence that the transnational elite were able to exert on concrete social reforms in different national frameworks in order to assess to what extent they can be regarded as an "epistemic community in the making".

Sandra Swart. "The World the Horses made" - a South African Case Study of Writing Animals into Social History.
This paper explores new ways to write history that engages with the lives of animals. It offers a sample card of how social history can be enriched by focusing on history from an animal perspective - and equally, how the tools provided by social history reveals the historicity of animals. The case-study is drawn from South African history and the focus is on horses. The paper firstly proposes that horses changed human history not only on the macro-level, but in the small, intimate arena of the bodily, following Febvre's call for a sensory history. Secondly, this paper explores social history's long-time concern with agency and with understanding socio-cultural experiences from the perspective of those who actually lived them - in this case, from an equine perspective. Thirdly, the paper asks how social history that takes animals seriously might be written and might offer a fresh dimension to our understanding, with examples from the most analysed event in southern African historiography the South African War (1899-1902).

Leo Lucassen. A Brave New World: The Left, Social Engineering, and Eugenics in Twentieth-Century Europe.
This article compares theories and social policies of social democrats and other representatives of the left-wing political spectrum in six European countries to explain why, in certain countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland, weak social groups became the target of illiberal and negative eugenic policy, especially isolation and sterilization, while elsewhere left-wing politicians and theorists were far less radical. One striking feature that emerges is the difference between a communitarian-organic and a class-bound form of socialism. Following Zygmunt Bauman, Michel Foucault, and James C. Scott, the article discerns a first variant of citizenship that is conditional and intended only for those with the right social attitude. Eugenics was perfectly consistent with such a view, since it offered a diagnosis and at the same time a cure. Prominent representatives of this approach were the Webbs in Britain and the Myrdals in Sweden. Such an organic-medical approach was less likely, however, in a more class-dependent variant of socialism embedded in a strong civil society. As long as social democrats and other leftist politicians believed social problems such as inequality and poverty were caused primarily by an unjust capitalist system, there was little cause for a eugenicist solution.