Volume 32 (Summer 1999)
Issue 4

Article Abstracts

Abstract: Peter M. Beattie, "Conscription Versus Penal Servitude: Army Reform's Influence on the Brazilian State's Management of Social Control, 1870-1930"

The army's centrality to Brazil's penal justice system in the late 1800s hindered attempts to implement enlisted recruitment reforms. The army coercively inducted non-homicidal "criminals," guarded civil convict populations, incorporated orphans and juvenile deliquents, and conducted police functions in provinces across the nation. To facilitate the adoption of military conscription, however, authorities undertook a series of institutional changes that had a deep but largely unrecognized impact on public disciplining strategies. Army enlisted service slowly changed from a punitive to a preventative institution of social reform as Brazil's national draft lottery replaced military impressment (coercive recruitment) in 1916. The State began to focus more energy on incorporating and indoctrinating young men from "honorable" poor households and simultaneously largely turned its back on the refractory elements of society who had routinely been the targets of press gangs. These reforms had an impact on prisons, police forces, poor houses, orphanages, and other public disciplining institutions. The Brazilian case may illuminate patterns common to other emerging nations, and it demonstrates the need to situate institutional studies more firmly within the context of the web of institutions in State building projects for comparative history.

Abstract: Russell L. Johnson, "The Civil War Generation: Military Service and Mobility in Dubuque, Iowa, 1860-1870"

Two historiographic threads provide the context for this study. First, during the 1960s and 1970s, quantitative historians produced a number of mobility studies. In general these concluded that upward social mobility and geographic stability were directly related. On the other hand, despite considering a range of characteristics - occupation, nativity, age, property ownership - none of these studies took veterans' status into account; indeed, few of these analyses even covered the decade of the 1860s. During the 1980s a second historiographic thread emerged, as some historians began to ask whether social historians had "lost the Civil War." In succeeding years, historians have begun to address these omissions, but apart from analyses of public policy - pensions - the country's Civil War veterans remain largely missing from the historical literature. Bringing these two threads together, this essay analyzes the post-Civil War geographic and social mobility of soldiers who enlisted from the city of Dubuque, Iowa and compares them to their civilian counterparts. The major conclusion is that Civil War veterans broke the link between upward mobility and geographic stability: Dubuque's veterans persisted in the city at a higher rate than non-veterans, despite being little more than occupationally stable and being less successful than their non-veteran peers at accumulating property over the decade.

Abstract: Constance E. Putnam, "Review Essay: The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present"

In a masterful sweep through time and geography, Roy Porter traces the history of humanity by examining medical history, a novel approach that appears self evidently appropriate by the time Porter is done. This essay undertakes to assess the many merits of Porter's effort, with frequent quotations to give a flavor of his superb essayist's style and some indication of how he manages to weave general and specific into a coherent whole. One emphasis of the review is on Porter's challenges to other historians; a second focus is on his view of modem medicine. Porter is at pains to remind his readers that what we are inclined to view as medical progress has side-effects that are not wholly benign. Thus medicine is still striving to live up to its billing as "the greatest benefit to mankind."

Abstract: Elizabeth Pleck, "The Making of the Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States"

The paper accounts for the emergence and changes in the definition of Thanksgiving in the U.S. as a "domestic occasion." A domestic occasion is defined as a family gathering held in the home which paid homage to the ideal of a privitized, affectionate and sentimental family. Instead of being "invented" once in the early nineteenth century, by women's magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale and Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving has been reinvented several times subsequently, with changes in both form and meaning. These reinventions included defining the holiday as a holiday of national inclusion, as a day for department store parades and for listening to or watching a football game. At the same time, by the 1940s, one significant element of Thanksgiving, that of camivalesque misrule, disappeared. The reinventions of Thanksgiving show the significance of American nationalism, the desire of (many) immigrants to adopt the national culture, but in a hyphenated form, the significance of children as agents of change, and the role of popular entertainment in enhancing modem festivity and in adding a masculine element of listening to or watching a football game to a highly feminine occasion.

Abstract: Hal Langfur, "Myths of Pacification: Brazilian Frontier Settlement and the Subjugation of the Bororo Indians"

Between 1890 and 1910, the Bororo Indians of Mato Gross, Brazil, confronted a concurrent assault on their land and labor by the Brazilian state, settlers, and Salesian missionaries. This article re?examines the history of Bororo subjugation, rejecting conventional narrative that credits the republican government and the prominent army officer Condido Rondon with their amicable pacification. Instead, it reveals the violent nature of Bororo submission. A state?sponsored telegraph project served as the means by which the Republic moved to incorporate the region into the national domain, providing settlers greater access to and protection in Bororo, territory. Violent conflict between the natives and settlers quickly ensued. Summoned by the state to quell the violence, missionaries established remote colonies for some Bororo, but the majority remained at large. Both Bororo groups continued to shape the terms of their contact with an entrance into Brazilian national society. Their response reveals the complexity of native conduct on the periphery of a consolidating nation state and market economy.

Abstract: Joseph Amato, "Review Essay: Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past, Vol 2."

This review essay of volume two of ed. Pierre Nora's and Lawrence Kritzman's three-volume English edition of Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past offers a positive assessment. The review praises the work as an important and high-grade collection of critical contemporary essays on diverse historical elements of French self-understanding. The essay engages Nora's searching historicism that prefaces and concludes the project, while also asking about the condition of French historiography when France has become a province of the world.

Abstract: L. Mara Dodge, "'One Female Prisoner is of More Trouble than Twenty Males': Women Convicts in Illinois Prisons, 1835-1896"

This article explores the place of female prisoners within the male custodial penitentiary. It examines the attitudes and responses of Illinois prison officials towards female convicts, explores the conditions of daily life which confronted women, and analyzes the changing composition of the female prison population. During the nineteenth century female prisoners in Illinois were incarcerated within the state's male penitentiaries at Alton (1835-1858), Joliet (1859-1896), and Chester (1878-1889). It was not until 1896 that the state established a separate women's prison, directly across the street from the male penitentiary. The presence of female convicts is rarely mentioned in the standard histories of the rise of the penitentiary, while the gendered nature of crime, punishment, and social control has only recently begun to be theorized. This study contributes to an emerging feminist historiography on the penitentiary which broadens the interpretative framework of previous scholars in regards to issues of agency, resistance, and social control. Women's forms of resistance to penal authority proved particularly troubling to their male captors, who continually found themselves frustrated in their efforts to effectively manage, control, and discipline their female charges.

Abstract: Timothy B. Smith, "Assistance and Repression: Rural Exodus, Vagabondage and Social Crisis in France, 1880-1914"

Scarcely one decade before the First World War, the problem of vagabondage and mendicity was so widespread in rural France that some social critics likened the situation to the situation in the 1780s. Rural France was in a state of crisis as the agricultural sector slumped, the exodus to the cities accelerated, and an estimated 400,000 vagabonds roamed the roads. France dealt with this social crisis, for the most part, with repressive means, including the deportation of vagabonds to colonial prisons. This article explores the repressive measures taken by the state as well as the harsh intellectual current which underpinned repression.