Finding Lydia Harvey: Narrative, Polyvocality, and Historical ‘Rescue Work’
Thursday, Jan. 26, 12-2 p.m.
In this seminar, Julia Laite will discuss the methodologies she used to research and write The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice, which won the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and the Bert Roth Award for Labour History in 2022. It reconstructs the life story of Lydia Harvey, a nobody of a girl, who was trafficked from New Zealand to Buenos Aires and London in 1910, through her own eyes as well as through those whose lives briefly intersected with hers. The talk will ask: what use is storytelling and narrative methodologies in telling the histories of obscure and marginalized people in the past? How do we account for silences and multiple perspectives? And what does it mean to rescue someone from the ‘condescension of posterity’ when we have no way of asking whether they wanted to be saved?
Julia Laite is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. She researches and teaches on the history of women, crime, sexuality and migration in the nineteenth and twentieth century British world. She is now beginning a project about her own family history and the troubled history of settler colonialism in Newfoundland.
Presented by Department of History