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Transnational Radicalism: Tom Mann, Bob Ross, Their Networks and the 'Social Revolution

3rd May 2013  01:00 pm - 3rd May 2013 02:00 pm


In recent years labour historians have developed an interest in transnational rather than purely local, regional or national subjects. My research is part of this trend. Drawing mainly upon the excellent manuscript, newspaper and journal sources held by the National Library of Australia, I focus upon the connected lives of two important, but insufficiently studied, socialists, British-born Tom Mann (1856-1941) and Australian-born Bob Ross (1873-1931). They met in Melbourne in 1903 and were active in the 1900s socialist movement in Victoria and Broken Hill. They were also involved in the New Zealand labour movement. Mann returned from Australasia to Britain at the end of 1909, but the two men kept in regular contact, exchanged ideas and developed overlapping labour networks in the 'British world' and beyond into the interwar years.

My paper first situates my subjects in their transnational contexts. It then considers their connections, influences and networks. Finally it sheds new light thrown by their careers on the character of early twentieth-century socialism. In so doing it aims to make a contribution to labour, social and political history, biography and prosopography.

Biographical Details

Neville Kirk is an Emeritus Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Research Professor at the University of Huddersfield, UK. He is currently a Harold White Fellow at the National Library of Australia. He has published widely in the fields of modern British history and comparative and transnational British, US and Australasian labour history. His publications include Comrades and Cousins (2003) and Labour and the Politics of Empire: Britain and Australia from 1900 to the present (2011).

Please contact Anna White by the close of business on Wednesday 1 May if you wish to attend for catering purposes. A light lunch will be provided.