Book Launch, Film Screening and Discussion
Saturday 24th November 2012
Transmission Gallery, 28 King Street, Glasgow, G1 5QP
The book All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal: Reading History From Below began as a discussion between two friends, Anthony Iles and Tom Roberts, about the politics of writing history. Neither are trained historians. They have assembled a critical and necessarily partial picture of the practice of ‘history from below’: historiographical tendencies which sought to uncover the agency of ‘ordinary people’ in challenging capitalism and developing different forms of social organisation. All Knees and Elbows surveys the work of a number of British and international left historians and groups, including Silvia Federici, History Workshop, Eric Hobsbawm, C.L.R James, Peter Linebaugh, Sheila Rowbotham, Jacques Rancière and E.P. Thompson.
“The completed study is not intended to be comprehensive. We’ve veered towards the subjects, areas and materials which interest us. These include questions of sources and their uses, working class education and self-education, welfare and the wage, language, historical authenticity and literary inventiveness, and contemporary political instrumentalisations of radical history. The book attests to the importance of reading history critically against the present.”
Film Screening & Introduction – 4.00pm
The Luddites (53 mins) is a film directed by Richard Broad for Thames TV in 1988 as if it were a contemporary documentary. The Luddites were a social movement of textile artisans from around Northern England and the Midlands, who banded together in 1812 in secret societies and destroyed the machines which were putting them out of work.
Discussion – 5.30-6.30pm
A discussion of The Luddites led by authors Anthony Iles and Tom Roberts informed by some of the All Knees and Elbows themes, including: The definition and redefinition of the working class in History from Below • Critical re-examination of ruptures in the social relation • Techniques developed within struggles to control and convey their own history • Struggles over the marketisation of research • Critical struggles over authenticity • The market for working class memoirs and hardship porn • Determinism and/ or the potential for action.
Book launch – 7.00pm
Authors Anthony Iles and Tom Roberts will give a short introduction to their new book All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal: Reading History From Below critically appraising tendencies and debates in history from below.
A sample chapter is available here: Members_Unlimited
Visit online bibliography
Stefan Szczelkun, Access and Repulsion, Mute, 25th June, 2013
Dave Featherstone, Reclaiming the Past, Red Pepper, Issue 91, Aug/Sep 2013