Introduction: The Global E.P. Thompson


Gordon, Andrew, Rudi Batzell, Sven Beckert, and Gabriel Winant. “Introduction: The Global E.P. Thompson.” International Review of Social History (special issue) 61, no. 1 (2016): 1-9.


This article introduces the present Special Theme on the global reception and appropriation of E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963). It aims to interrogate Thompson’s legacy and potential vitality at a moment of renewed social and intellectual upheavals. It emphasizes the need for an interdisciplinary and global reflection on Thompson’s work and impact for understanding how class, nation, and “the people” as subjects of historical inquiry have been repeatedly recast since the 1960s. Examining the course of Thompson’s ideas in Japan and West Germany, South Africa and Argentina, as well as Czechoslovakia and Poland, each of the following five articles in the Special Theme is situated in specific and different locations in the global historiographical matrix. Read as a whole, they show how national historiographies have been products of local processes of state and class formation on the one hand, and transnational transfers of intellectual and historiographical ideas, on the other. They highlight the remarkable ability of Thompsonian social history to inspire new lives in varying national contexts shaped by different formations of race, class, and state.

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Last updated on 06/13/2017