History Workshop 23, Class, Community and Conflict, was held at Salford University between 3 and 5 November 1989. This focus on the intersections of class and community identities – and their association with conflict – was possibly a return to more traditional ground for the Workshop following a succession of Workshops which focused on popular perceptions about the use of history. However, in practice, these trends were still heavily evident in the papers given. The conference opened with a showing of the film version of Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole – a novel set in Depression-era Salford. This reflected History Workshop’s enduring interest in how cultural forms related to people’s experience of their own history.
Unlike some of the previous Workshops, this Workshop did include a plenary session in the schedule as an attempt to draw together the disparate discussions of the thematic workshop sessions. Themes covered included ‘Health/Science/Technology’, ‘Working Class Leisure’, ‘Trade Unions: 100 Years’, ‘Women’s History’, ‘Radical Black Britain’, ‘Anarchism’, ‘Working Class Education’, ‘Irish in Britain and Ireland’, ‘Culture and Self-Determination’, ‘Developing Countries’, ‘Communist Party History’, ‘Working Class Youth’, ‘Museums and Labour History’, ‘Classroom History’, ‘The Middle Ages’, ‘Oral/Community History’, and ‘Peterloo and Radicalism’. Papers given included Medical History from the Bottom Up: Scatological Gleanings from Victorian Manchester – Anus Mirabilis Victorious, British Male Comedy in the Interwar Period, Women in Working Class Fiction, and The Horse and Peterloo.
This Workshop saw a broadening of the movement’s emphasis in some areas. In particular, the inclusion of medieval history in its own strand was a new development for the Workshop. A strand devoted to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 gave Workshop 23 a strong local connection. This was only the second time that the Workshop had been held at a university rather than an adult education college or a polytechnic. The Workshop had historically had closer links to adult education and polytechnics because staff at such institutions were often more in sympathy with the movement’s oppositional nature.