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Title: Liberty, Property, Materiality : An historical archaeology of protest and resistance in later-eighteenth-century England
Authors: Whitfield, Thomas
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The later eighteenth century (c.1763-1815) was a period of great social, economic and cultural upheaval in Britain. Drawing on a range of case studies from North-East England and London, drawn together through the life of Thomas Spence, this thesis explores how subaltern individuals and groups experienced, protested against, and resisted these upheavals, not just through public ‘flash-points’ such as riots but also routinely through quotidian objects and spaces in the everyday. To investigate case studies of everyday subaltern resistance, this thesis searches beyond elite produced textual accounts, which commonly obscure everyday forms of resistance, and instead pursues a multisource methodology integrating textual, material, and spatial sources. Through the critical examination of these sources in combination, a range of inconsistencies, ambiguities, and exaggerations appear suggesting the presence of underlying hidden tensions, anxieties, and dissent. This thesis then explores how these tensions were materialised in objects and places as component strategies articulating protest and resistance. Taken individually, the case studies present a series of highly nuanced micro-histories offering important insights into context-specific expressions of protest and resistance in later-eighteenth-century England. When read together, however, they suggest how material culture and space were widely understood, across diverse contexts, to offer important avenues for expressions of protest and resistance at the macro-scale. Between Marsden Grotto, Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Town Moor, Spencean London and the Wilkes and Liberty movement, this thesis demonstrates how subalterns expressed their dissent and demands in common ways through objects, space and place. This thesis thus opens a new approach to the history and archaeology of protest and resistance, foregrounding subaltern experience and promoting a recognition of the pivotal roles played by material culture, space and place in the articulation of power, protest and resistance.
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:School of History, Classics and Archaeology

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