Peter Burke interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 31st July 2004 Ė Part 2

0:00:05 Memories of† Christopher Hill; as a Marxist never as interesting as Eric Hobsbawm or Edward Thompson because they were more creative with the concepts; deeply learned in seventeenth century England; use of quotations in writing; since 1985 I have written on a computer; I constantly revise, sometimes after many years; before the computer used typewriter, scissors and paste; I like writing, especially any draft after the first; sentences come into my head when Iím walking, so I have little notepad; found writing is a good start to research, only then do I discover what I really need to know; I write in the morning and this throws up a whole lot of queries; while walking to the University Library I stop three or four times because a sentence has come; in the library I try to solve all the questions that came up in the morning; next morning, insert these passages, rewrite, go on a bit, new questions, go back to library the next afternoon; for me the ideal system with the most intense activity the writing when freshest in the morning; donít work very much in the evening

0:07:04 The Annales school and work of Braudel; read Braudelís book on Mediterranean as an undergraduate; Keith Thomasís observation on Braudel; went to other people from his footnotes; Febvre and Marc Bloch; at one stage did think it would be interesting to work with Braudel, especially on the Jesuits; did meet him later and interviewed him for the BBC; such a powerful personality that there was a danger of being taken over; Trevor-Roper in the 1960ís sympathetic to Annales; learnt from Braudel to place things in the larger context; used this observation in teaching undergraduates

0:12:00 Went to Sussex University in 1962 while it was still being built; very exciting; sense that we were going to have to create tradition; I applied for the job because Iíd heard Asa Briggs talk on history and sociology when heíd said that this sort of interdisciplinary work was going to happen at Sussex; challenge of having to invent new courses; so many of the staff were recent graduate or research students and we were allowed to do so; chances of collaboration with sociology, literature and philosophy were enormous; first professor of anthropology was Freddie Bailey who caught me with Malinowski and said that anthropologists did not believe in him any more; felt the anthropologists were not keen on my involvement where sociologists were happy for me to teach sociology; from the first year I taught a course in sociological theory which was how I learnt it; helped by having had a reference for the job from Birnbaum so Briggs was aware of sociological interest; wonderful to be able to spread interests over other disciplines; opposite when came to Cambridge in 1979 as one had to justify any borrowing from another discipline in the history faculty

0:16:40 With Bob Scribner set up course on historical anthropology which had to go to the faculty board; the board kept sending it back as Derek Beales opposed in principle to it; one year when he wasnít in the chair the board approved the course but as long as there was no theory in it; we agreed and took no notice; it ran for six years and students loved it

0:18:20 Emmanuel College a culture shock after Sussex where everything was informal; tie incident; so many little customs that I started to take notes like an anthropologist; at a conference on art history in Italy in 1982, Bourdieu wanted to know how Cambridge worked; encouraged to write from the notes and published article ĎNotes towards the ethnography of a Cambridge collegeí under the name of William Dell; college called St Dominics as Emmanuel on the site of the Dominican Friars; William Dell was once a fellow of Emmanuel, a radical puritan, on whom Christopher Hill has written

0:23:06 Met Raphael Samuel in Oxford in 1964 when I had a termís leave there; he was very interested in history of religion and popular religion; started a series of graduate seminars with Gill Thomas (later Sutherland), Gareth Steadman-Jones, and Roderick Floud; I talked about Jansenism and John Walsh talked on Methodism; Raphael talked about nineteenth century; one of the most charismatic people Iíve ever met; after Edward Thompson the person who has given working class history an epic quality; kind of elder brother to me, wanting me to be more committed to the left; Ruskin conferences; childhood in history; socialist history; possibly wouldnít have written book on popular culture without his friendship

0:26:57 Met Roy Porter in the late 1970ís when give a lecture on history of mentalities; later started to collaborate

0:28:28 Two very big problems Iíve been wrestling with all my life; one is how far there is a European history, a common culture; think of it in terms of bringing my two pairs of grandparents together; the other question is on history and theory and whether one can use concepts from other social sciences

0:31:05 On marriage to a Brazilian; always been drawn to latin cultures; excited by work on Italy and Spain even as an undergraduate; Maria Lucia invited me to lecture in Brazil, in San Paolo; tried to see Brazil as an enormous, chaotic Italy; Maria Luciaís family as mixed as mine, Italian on one side and Spanish on the other, yet speaks Portuguese; her parents were migrants like my grandparents; in Brazil taken for granted that everyone is a migrant; thanks to Singapore and Italy adjusted to the idea that apparent rules may not be the real rules, very clearly so in Brazil