From Diggers to Dongas: the land in English radicalism 1649 - 2000

Howkins, Alun (2002) From Diggers to Dongas: the land in English radicalism 1649 - 2000. History Workshop Journal, 54 (1). pp. 1-23. ISSN 1363-3554

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This is the text of a professorial inaugural lecture given at the University of Sussex in October 2001. It seeks to present a broad picture of English Radicalism in which the land has a central, if changing, place. It argues that the idea of the land as a lost ‘birthright’ has consistently informed radical movements from the Diggers in the seventeenth century though to the ‘tribes’ associated with anti‐globalisation protests in the twentieth. However, this movement is not, and was not, one simply of ideas, rather it reflects the actual practice of radical and popular movements even where they had little or no ‘political’ programme. Thus land occupations from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries ‘act out’ the more formulated ideas of the Diggers or the Chartists. But these are not simply archaic or backward looking movements but reflect the changes in the social and economic structure. Thus while they draw on the past they also adapt to their different presents emerging and re‐emerging in new ways which deny the wish of many historians to consign the land and its associated issues to the dustheap of history. The piece is offered in the spirit of a lecture not a finished academic article in the hope it will provoke debate, argument and hopefully revive radical and socialist historian's interest in the land.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The article is the basis of an inaugural professorial lecture.
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England
Depositing User: Alun John Howkins
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:37
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2012 10:47
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