Open Access (free)
Smoke as urban life in early modern London
William Cavert

Early modern London consumed a vast amount of mineral coal, which created a uniquely dirty, smoky, urban atmosphere. The phrase ‘sin and sea coal’, used in plays, essays and private letters, came to stand for this physical environment and its moral meaning, but in ways that were complex and variable. By about 1700 it represented the medical and moral dangers of the urban environment, but also inhabitants’ self-aware choices to endure or even to enjoy those dangers. Such uses show how perceptions of the city, rather than shifting from negative to positive, could remain unresolved across the early modern period. It was a metaphor for urban life that could be either serious or playful, earnest or mocking, moralising or libertine. London as smoky and sinful was a stereotype, but one that did not contribute to increasing social tension or political division, nor cause people to fight their neighbours or kill their enemies. Instead, it contributed to a nagging and persistent sense that urban growth and economic improvement had regrettable but perhaps inevitable costs, environmental as well as social and moral.

in Stereotypes and stereotyping in early modern England
Puritans, papists and projectors
Editor:

Early modern stereotypes are often studied as evidence of popular belief, something mired with prejudices and commonly held assumptions. This volume of essays goes beyond this approach, and explores practices of stereotyping as contested processes. To do so the volume draws on recent works on social psychology and sociology. The volume thereby brings together early modern case studies, and explores how stereotypes and their mobilisation shaped various negotiations of power, in spheres of life such as politics, religion, everyday life and knowledge production. The volume highlights early modern men’s and women’s remarkable creativity and agency: godly reformers used the ‘puritan’ stereotype to understand popular aversion to religious discipline; Ben Jonson developed the characters of the puritan and the projector in ways that helped diffuse anxieties about fundamental problems in early modern church and state; playful allusions to London’s ‘sin and sea coal’ permitted a knowing acceptance of urban growth and its moral and environmental costs; Tory polemics accused of ‘popery’ returned the same accusations to Whig Protestants; humanists projected related Christian stereotypes outwards to make sense of Islam and Hinduism in the age of Enlightenment. Case studies collectively point to a paradox: stereotyping was so pervasive and foundational to social life and yet so liable to escalation that collective engagements with it often ended up perpetuating the very processes of stereotyping. By highlighting these dialectics of stereotyping, the volume invites readers to make fresh connections between the early modern past and the present without being anachronistic.

Francophobia and francophilia in Samuel Pepys’s Diary
David Magliocco

Stereotyping cannot be adequately understood in terms either of escalation or containment. Another aspect worth critical attention is the co-existence within society and within one individual of contradictory stereotypes – what social psychologists call cognitive polyphasia. This chapter explores this aspect of stereotyping by diving into the world of metropolitan sociability and cultural distinction, as recorded in copious diaries by one wealthy individual: Samuel Pepys. Pepys’s diaries recorded all things French, music, language, clothing and people. These were mentioned far more frequently than the Dutch, Scottish and other nationalities. This chapter demonstrates that Frenchness carried greater ambiguity than hitherto appreciated. While French Catholicism was linked with absolutism and arbitrary government (as discussed by both Harris and Morton), Frenchness was also associated in Pepys’s world with prestige, refined taste and distinction. It was possible for individuals like Pepys to embrace contradictory stereotypes, invoking different aspects of them depending on context. This understanding of dispositions towards French things, people and France itself complicates our understanding of ‘public opinion’ in this period, too often cast as a shift from anti-Dutch to anti-French positions. Transnational interactions then – as now – often gave prompted repulsion and ethnocentrism as well as emulation of the 'others'.

in Stereotypes and stereotyping in early modern England
Regimes of value associated with the corpse in French nineteenth-century painting
Anaelle Lahaeye

There are many factors at work in the iconography of human remains. Some of those frequently discussed are aesthetic criteria, iconographic traditions and specific contingencies, whether political (for example in war paintings), symbolic (essential for transi images) or cultural. There is, however, one factor that is rarely mentioned, despite its centrality: the regime of value associated with corpses. Christ’s body is not painted in the same way as that of a departed relative or that used in a human dissection. Artists choose a suitable iconography depending on how the remains are perceived. This criterion became absolutely crucial in contexts such as nineteenth-century France, when attitudes to corpses underwent major changes.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
An interview with Vernelda Grant
Bridget Conley
and
Vernelda Grant

This edited transcript of conversations between an Apache cultural heritage professional, Vernelda Grant, and researcher Bridget Conley explores the knowledge that should guide the repatriation of human remains in the colonial context of repatriating Apache sacred, cultural and patrimonial items – including human remains – from museum collections in the United States. Grant provides a historical overview of the how Apache elders first grappled with this problem, following the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) in the US Congress. She explains how and why community leaders made decisions about what items they would prioritise for repatriation. Central to her discussion is an Apache knowledge ecology grounded in recognition that the meaning of discrete items cannot be divorced from the larger religious and cultural context from which they come.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Burying the dead in times of pandemic
Diane O’Donoghue

Both historical and contemporary records of mass contagion provide occasions for visibility to persons who otherwise remain little recognised and even less studied: those who bury the dead. While global reports attest to self-advocacy among cemetery workers in the current COVID-19 pandemic, the psychological complexities of their labour go virtually unseen. Findings on the experiences of those doing such work reveal a striking contrast. While societal disavowal often renders their task as abject and forgettable, those who inter the remains frequently report affective connections to the dead that powerfully, and poignantly, undermine this erasure. Acknowledging such empathic relationality allows us to look at this profession in areas where it has never been considered, such as psychoanalytic work on ‘mentalisation’ or in contemporary ethics. The article concludes with an example from the accounts of those who have buried the dead in the massed graves on New York’s Hart Island.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Holocaust ashes in and beyond memorial sites and museums
Zuzanna Dziuban

This article focuses on ongoing contestations around burned human remains originating from the Holocaust, their changing meanings and dynamics, and their presence/absence in Holocaust-related debates, museums and memorial sites. It argues that ashes challenge but also expand the notion of what constitutes human remains, rendering them irreducible to merely bones and fleshed bodies, and proposes that incinerated remains need to be seen not as a ‘second rate’ corporeality of the dead but as a different one, equally important to engage with – analytically, ethically and politically. Challenging the perception of ashes as unable to carry traces of the personhood of the of the dead, and as not capable of yielding evidence, I posit that, regardless of their fragile corporality, incinerated human remains should be considered abjectual and evidential, as testifying to the violence from which they originated and to which they were subjected. Moreover, in this article I consider incinerated human remains through the prism of the notion of vulnerability, meant to convey their susceptibility to violence – violence through misuse, destruction, objectification, instrumentalisation and/or museum display. I argue that the consequences of the constantly negotiated status of ashes as a ‘second rate’ corporeality of human remains include their very presence in museum exhibitions – where they, as human remains, do not necessarily belong.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Telling stories of violence, suffering and death in museum exhibits
Steven Lubar

This article describes some of the techniques museums use to represent the suffering body in exhibitions. Some display human remains, but much more common, especially in Western museums, are stand-ins for the body. Manikins take many forms, including the wax museum’s hyperrealistic representations, the history museum’s neutral grey figures and the expressionistic figures that represent enslaved people in many recent exhibits. Symbolic objects or artefacts from the lives of victims can serve as counterweights to telling the story of their deaths. Photographs can show horror and the machinery of death, focus attention on individual lives or recreate communities. The absence of the body can call attention to its suffering. All of these techniques can be useful for museums trying to display and teach traumatic histories, but must be used with care and caution.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
In their presence: re-framing the scene of the dead body
Diane O’Donoghue
and
Bridget Conley
Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Roberta Bivins

After the Second World War, major programmes of national recovery and reform across Europe built on pre-war precedents to develop universal systems of medical provision for their citizens. ‘Health’ or at least access to healthcare came to be seen, especially in Britain, as both a symbol of modern nationhood and a tool of social cohesion. The USA, by far the wealthiest and most productive nation to emerge from the war, rejected this approach. Historians and politicians have long sought the origins of this idiosyncrasy and the reasons for its persistence, focusing particularly on political and economic forces. But popular culture too has played an important role in US resistance to state interventions in the medical marketplace. This chapter explores the vexed association in Anglo-American discourse between governmental health provision, ‘socialism’ and the British NHS. Focusing specifically on how the US print media represented the NHS visually and rhetorically to the American public, the chapter suggests that the NHS became synonymous with ‘state medicine’ in US popular culture between 1948 and 1958. It then reflects on British responses, and asks why hostile American visions of a purely domestic British social institution provoked such strong reactions. The chapter argues that fierce British advocacy of the NHS at home and abroad envisioned the service itself as a necessary bulwark protecting the nation from communism in the fervid atmosphere of the early Cold War: welfare, in the form of the NHS, was warfare.

in Posters, protests, and prescriptions