Intellectual lives, performance and persona: The making of a people's historian

Sophie Scott-Brown

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The most important aspect of British historian Raphael Samuel (1934-1996) was his entire way of being a historian. Samuel, a former youth member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, is best known as a founder of the first British New Left (1956-62), the driving force behind the first History Workshop movement (1963-79), which pioneered a distinctive 'history-from-below', and as the author of Theatres of Memory (1994), an idiosyncratic exploration of the past in contemporary culture. Despite all this, he did not advance an especially ground-breaking historical argument or historiographical theory. He set his sights elsewhere, on the democratisation of history making. To achieve this end, he created a distinctive persona as a people's historian through which he projected a radical transformation of what it meant to study history. Yet posterity was both condescending and neglectful, and until recently the full …
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-111
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of Biography and History
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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