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10 May 1990
Fatalism and Development: Nepal’s Struggle for Modernisation 
by Dor Bahadur Bista.
Longman, Madras
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... The current political revolution in Nepal marks a further stage in the rapid integration of that country into the Western capitalist world. From a standing start in 1950, when the Ranas were overthrown and Nepal began to be transformed from a medieval oriental despotism into a modern nation-state, a great deal has been done. Between 1950 and 1980 the cumulative growth in various sectors has been estimated ...

Common Ground

Edmund Leach

19 September 1985
A Social History of Western Europe 1450-1720: Tensions and Solidarities among Rural People 
by Sheldon Watts.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 09 156081 0
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Kinship in the Past: An Anthropology of European Family Life 1500-1900 
by Andrejs Plakans.
Blackwell, 276 pp., £24.50, September 1984, 0 631 13066 7
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Interests and Emotion: Essays on the Study of Family and Kinship 
edited by Hans Medick and David Warren Sabean.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 521 24969 4
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... a similar conference held in Cambridge on the theme of ‘Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations’ included contributions concerning European history from Norman Cohn, Peter Brown, Keith Thomas and AlanMacfarlane, all professional historians. They were fully integrated with the contributions of the anthropologists. Since that date it has become increasingly common both in this country and elsewhere ...

Casual Offenders

J.S. Morrill

7 May 1981
The Justice and the Mare’s Ale 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 238 pp., £8.50, March 1981, 0 631 12681 3
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... AlanMacfarlane likes to shock historians out of their complacency and out of a narrow preoccupation with their own period or their own mode of historical study. He is a professionally-trained historian and a ...

Brutish Babies

David Wootton: Witchcraft

11 November 1999
Shaman of Oberstdorf: Chonrad Stoeckhlin and the Phantoms of the Night 
by Wolfgang Behringer, translated by H.C.Erik Midelfort.
Virginia, 203 pp., £14.50, September 1998, 0 8139 1853 7
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Thinking with Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe 
by Stuart Clark.
Oxford, 845 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 820001 3
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Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Routledge, 368 pp., £55, April 1999, 0 415 19611 6
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The Bewitching of Anne Gunter: A Horrible and True Story of Football, Witchcraft, Murder and the King of England 
by James Sharpe.
Profile, 256 pp., £16.99, November 1999, 9781861970480
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... in modern scholarly literature, as if she believed herself to be a witch. The modern history of the witch-hunt begins with a series of books published nearly thirty years ago by Hugh Trevor-Roper, AlanMacfarlane, Keith Thomas and Erik Midelfort. Until very recently, however, it was the history of trials on the Continent alone that seemed a lively subject, and in 1996 Diane Purkiss could still ...

Flowery, rustic, tippy, smokey

Jenny Diski: A cup of tea

19 June 2003
Green Gold: The Empire of Tea 
by Alan Macfarlane and Iris Macfarlane.
Ebury, 308 pp., £12.99, February 2003, 0 09 188309 1
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... in China, India and Sri Lanka and drunk in vast quantities in Britain and you can be sure that economic and political discrimination have been central to its production and consumption. Although AlanMacfarlane is a profession-al anthropologist, his book on tea, Green Gold, is a personal investigation, the work of a hobbyist (he has built a Japanese tea house in his back garden) rather than an ...

English Violence

Alan Macfarlane

24 July 1986
Crime and the Courts in England 1660-1800 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 663 pp., £48, April 1986, 0 19 820057 9
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... This is in many ways a fine study. In over six hundred pages of lucid and carefully presented material Professor Beattie has provided an exemplary analysis of the Surrey Assize and Quarter Sessions records between 1660 and 1800, as well as parallel records from the Sussex courts. It is done with subtlety and care. Concentrating on robbery, burglary, larceny, homicide, infanticide and rape, the author ...

Why Mr Fax got it wrong

Roy Porter: Population history

5 March 1998
English Population History from Family Reconstitution 1580-1837 
by E.A. Wrigley and R.S. Davies.
Cambridge, 657 pp., £60, July 1997, 0 521 59015 9
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The Savage Wars of Peace: England, Japan and the Malthusian Trap 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 427 pp., £45, May 1997, 0 631 18117 2
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... wait for a further instalment from this source. Another Cambridge historian (or historian-anthropologist) has no such qualms about theorising about the fates of whole countries – indeed continents. AlanMacfarlane is well known for his bold theories about the forces shaping past societies, already advanced in such books as The Origins of English Individualism (1978) and Marriage and Love in England ...
21 January 1988
The Culture of Capitalism 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 254 pp., £19.50, August 1987, 0 631 13626 6
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... AlanMacfarlane’s little book on The Origins of English Individualism came out in 1978. It argued that England had been in crucial respects a ‘modern’ society ever since the 14th century and maybe earlier, and ...

Man and Wife

Rosalind Mitchison

22 May 1986
Marriage and Love in England: Modes of Reproduction 1300-1840 
by Alan Macfarlane.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £19.50, January 1986, 0 631 13992 3
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For Better, For Worse: British Marriages 1600 to the Present 
by John Gillis.
Oxford, 417 pp., £19.50, February 1986, 9780195036145
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Labour and Love: Women’s Experience of Home and Family 1850-1940 
edited by Jane Lewis.
Blackwell, 274 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 631 13957 5
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... two changes accounted for most of the surge in population growth after 1750. Before then, permanent or temporary celibacy for a large part of the sexually mature population held numbers in check. AlanMacfarlane’s book is an important exploration of the effect on the institution itself of this use of marriage as a demographic control. He calls the control the Malthusian marriage system, not ...

Death in Cumbria

Alan Macfarlane

19 May 1983
Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 
by Keith Thomas.
Allen Lane, 426 pp., £14.95, March 1983, 0 7139 1227 8
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... England in the 19th century presented the enquiring foreigner with a series of strange paradoxes. It was the most urbanised country in the world, yet the one where the yearning for the countryside was the most developed. Its anti-urban bias was shown in the prevalence of parks, the ubiquity of flower gardens, the country holiday industry, the dreams of retirement to a honeysuckle cottage, and the emphasis ...

It took a Scot

Colin Kidd: English Nationalism

29 July 2015
The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century 
by George Molyneaux.
Oxford, 302 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 0 19 871791 1
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The English and Their History 
by Robert Tombs.
Allen Lane, 1012 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 103165 1
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Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery: Britain and Ireland 1066-1485 
by John Gillingham.
Vintage, 345 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956324 2
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From Restoration to Reform: The British Isles 1660-1832 
by Jonathan Clark.
Vintage, 364 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956323 5
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Britain since 1900: A Success Story? 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Vintage, 472 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 957239 8
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... English’? Are they inherent properties of national character or largely a product of institutional arrangements? In The Origins of English Individualism (1978) the historical anthropologist AlanMacfarlane controversially questioned the notional transition in England from medieval feudalism to early modern capitalism. There was no evidence for a peasant society in 15th-century England, as ...
12 March 1992
Community Transformed: The Manor and Liberty of Havering 1500-1620 
by Marjorie Keniston McIntosh.
Cambridge, 489 pp., £50, September 1991, 0 521 38142 8
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... was shifting, not from land to trade, but from trade to land. In spite of all Dr McIntosh’s disclaimers about the untypicality of Havering, one must note that all this fits the paradigm of AlanMacfarlane’s Origins of English Individualism rather better than it does that of some more traditional interpretations. We have here a body of questions which badly need testing in other places. Some, at ...

Monsieur Montaillou

Rosalind Mitchison

7 August 1980
The Territory of the Historian 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Sian Ben.
Harvester, 346 pp., £12.50, May 1979, 0 85527 565 0
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by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Barbara Bray.
Penguin, 382 pp., £2.50, May 1980, 0 14 005471 5
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Carnival: a People’s Uprising in Romans, 1579-1580 
by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, translated by Mary Feeney.
Scolar, 426 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 85967 591 2
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... in this way sharply raised the level of effort necessary for subsistence. Further puzzles emerge. Are these peasants any different from the English peasantry of this age whose individualism has made AlanMacfarlane question the genuineness of their peasant status in his recent Origins of English Individualism? What is the relationship between the incipient Protestantism of many of the opinions here ...

Broom, broom

Leslie Wilson

2 December 1993
The Virago Book of Witches 
edited by Shahrukh Husain.
Virago, 244 pp., £14.99, October 1993, 1 85381 562 4
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... The victim is advised by her doctor to piss into a bottle and cork it up so that the witch becomes unable to piss. The victim’s neighbour begins to scream and is identified as the witch. Just as AlanMacfarlane, studying Essex witches, found a large proportion of physicians among the cunning men, here the witchdoctor is an actual doctor. But the reference to ‘newfangled machines in smart new ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer

2 December 1982
Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... Ladurie in their best-selling works on popular culture in Italy and France, and with less publicity by hosts of local historians. Current interest in magic, as exemplified by the work of writers like AlanMacfarlane or Keith Thomas, owes more to this attitude than it does to O’Keefe’s conspiracy of Californian hippies, oriental gurus and sinister denizens of the Warburg. In this conference, for ...

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