Séance Sitters, Ghost Hunters, Spiritualists, and Theosophists: Esoteric Belief and Practice in the British Parliamentary Labour Party, c1929–51

2.50
Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/2436/620997
Title:
Séance Sitters, Ghost Hunters, Spiritualists, and Theosophists: Esoteric Belief and Practice in the British Parliamentary Labour Party, c1929–51
Authors:
Gildart, Keith
Abstract:
This article explores esoteric identities and cultures in the British Parliamentary Labour Party c1929–51. The historiography of the Labour Party has tended to overemphasize the one-dimensional nature of ideological affiliation and identity amongst Labour Members of Parliament in this period along the lines of a rather simplistic left/right dichotomy. Moreover, some historians have suggested that after 1918 particular socialist traditions and currents had become marginalized or dissolved once the party had developed a clearly defined constitution and the experience of political power. The argument presented here is that a range of esoteric identities remained a feature of labour culture through to the general election of 1951 and beyond. Three currents highlight the complexity and fluidity of specific strands of labour/socialist identity; in particular, spiritualism, theosophy and belief in the supernormal and the fantastic. Spiritualism and esotericism attracted a range of Labour MPs and shaped their reaction to contemporary political problems and the purpose and direction of working-class politics. An examination of such individuals and beliefs raises some new questions and challenges existing assumptions relating to labour identities in mid-twentieth century Britain. Socialist spiritualists, ghost hunters, and theosophists viewed political identity, mobilization and practice as an activity that drew as much on the personal, the spiritual and ‘other-worldly’ as it did on the economic, social and material basis of society.
Citation:
Séance Sitters, Ghost Hunters, Spiritualists, and Theosophists: Esoteric Belief and Practice in the British Parliamentary Labour Party, c1929–51 2017 Twentieth Century British History
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Journal:
Twentieth Century British History
Issue Date:
25-Oct-2017
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/2436/620997
DOI:
10.1093/tcbh/hwx053
Additional Links:
http://academic.oup.com/tcbh/article/doi/10.1093/tcbh/hwx053/4565522/Séance-Sitters-Ghost-Hunters-Spiritualists-and
Type:
Article
Language:
en
ISSN:
0955-2359
Appears in Collections:
FOSS

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorGildart, Keithen
dc.date.accessioned2017-12-14T09:52:53Z-
dc.date.available2017-12-14T09:52:53Z-
dc.date.issued2017-10-25-
dc.identifier.citationSéance Sitters, Ghost Hunters, Spiritualists, and Theosophists: Esoteric Belief and Practice in the British Parliamentary Labour Party, c1929–51 2017 Twentieth Century British Historyen
dc.identifier.issn0955-2359en
dc.identifier.doi10.1093/tcbh/hwx053-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/2436/620997-
dc.description.abstractThis article explores esoteric identities and cultures in the British Parliamentary Labour Party c1929–51. The historiography of the Labour Party has tended to overemphasize the one-dimensional nature of ideological affiliation and identity amongst Labour Members of Parliament in this period along the lines of a rather simplistic left/right dichotomy. Moreover, some historians have suggested that after 1918 particular socialist traditions and currents had become marginalized or dissolved once the party had developed a clearly defined constitution and the experience of political power. The argument presented here is that a range of esoteric identities remained a feature of labour culture through to the general election of 1951 and beyond. Three currents highlight the complexity and fluidity of specific strands of labour/socialist identity; in particular, spiritualism, theosophy and belief in the supernormal and the fantastic. Spiritualism and esotericism attracted a range of Labour MPs and shaped their reaction to contemporary political problems and the purpose and direction of working-class politics. An examination of such individuals and beliefs raises some new questions and challenges existing assumptions relating to labour identities in mid-twentieth century Britain. Socialist spiritualists, ghost hunters, and theosophists viewed political identity, mobilization and practice as an activity that drew as much on the personal, the spiritual and ‘other-worldly’ as it did on the economic, social and material basis of society.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherOxford University Pressen
dc.relation.urlhttp://academic.oup.com/tcbh/article/doi/10.1093/tcbh/hwx053/4565522/Séance-Sitters-Ghost-Hunters-Spiritualists-anden
dc.rightsArchived with thanks to Twentieth Century British Historyen
dc.rights.urihttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/*
dc.subjectLabour Partyen
dc.subjectSpiritualismen
dc.subjectGhostsen
dc.subjectSeancesen
dc.subjectTheosophyen
dc.titleSéance Sitters, Ghost Hunters, Spiritualists, and Theosophists: Esoteric Belief and Practice in the British Parliamentary Labour Party, c1929–51en
dc.typeArticleen
dc.identifier.journalTwentieth Century British Historyen
dc.date.accepted2017-10-
rioxxterms.funderInternalen
rioxxterms.identifier.projectUoW131217KGen
rioxxterms.versionAMen
rioxxterms.licenseref.urihttps://creativecommons.org/CC BY-NC-ND 4.0en
rioxxterms.licenseref.startdate2019-10-25en
This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Creative Commons
All Items in WIRE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.