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Prof Sheila Rowbotham - research

Research interests

Specific research interests:

Keywords: women's history and contemporary position as workers internationally/ labour/ cultural history/ social movements.

My main area of study has been the historical and contemporary position of women, the history of feminism and women's movements along with the history of labour, socialist and anarchist groups. These grew out of my  involvement in radical and feminist politics in the 1960s and 70s. My work at the GLC and for the UN generated interest in democratising economic and social policy, women's global labour networks and especially links between home workers globally. My teaching in Sociology contributed to my interest in culture and social change. My main focus since  2001 has been on social and cultural history.

Current research projects:

I am currently engaged in two major research projects which will be completed in 2007-2008.

One is a biography of Edward Carpenter, (1844 -1929) socialist and campaigner for homosexual rights and women's emancipation. I am examining Carpenter's life and work in relation to the many networks in which he moved. These included republicans, sex  reformers, animal rights advocates,  clean air campaigners, prison reformers and many more from the 1870s to the 1920s. He knew politicians such as Ramsay MacDonald, trade unionists like Tom Mann, writers like Bernard  Shaw and Siegfried Sassoon. His work was influential in many countries including the US, India and Japan and admired by such diverse figures as Tolstoy and Tagore. Carpenter was  an early critic of  Western values, grafting on to his socialism Romantic and Idealist traditions of thought which critiqued  the emphasis on  purely material progress and increasing productivity. However he was also very interested in contemporary science and a good mathematician and applied himself to the practicalities of alternative technology. His broad theoretical span as well as his activism make it possible  to see many  aspects of late nineteenth and early twentieth political, social  and cultural history in a new light.

The second book grew out of 'A Century of Women'. It examines how women radicals and reformers in Britain and the US contributed ideas and practical proposals to  changing everyday life from the 1890s to the 1920s.It covers personal identity, lifestyle, sex, motherhood, domestic work and paid work.