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Bibliographical Information
Idiom of Dissent, The
ISBN: 9781843235903 (1843235900)Publication Date April 2006
Publisher: Gwasg Gomer, Llandysul
Edited by T. Robin Chapman Format: Paperback, 224x114 mm, 176 pages Language: English Ordered on request Our Price: £9.99 
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A collection of essays by new and established academics and representatives of the media & politics which show how protest in twentieth century Wales can be read as cultural history. Topics include the suffragettes, nationalism, campaign for Welsh broadcasting, peace movements, Greenham and its legacy, the parliament for Wales campaign, and Anglo-Welsh poetry.

Casgliad o draethodau gan academyddion newydd a phrofiadol, a chynrychiolwyr o fyd y cyfryngau a gwleidyddiaeth sy'n dangos sut y gellir gweld protest fel hanes diwylliannol. Mae pynciau'n cynnwys: y swffragetiaid, cenedlaetholdeb, yr ymgyrch dros ddarlledu yn Gymraeg, mudiadau heddwch, ymgyrch senedd i Gymru a datblygiad barddonaieth Eingl-Gymreig.
The seven thoughtful essays of this trail-blazing collection span the century since 1906, embracing causes which have aroused passions and inflamed tempers. They analyse the language used by the campaigners, dissenters, and protesters - and by their antagonists - and explore its implications and consequences.

Emily Charette, who discusses the Parliament for Wales Campaign (1950-1956), identifies one underlying assumption uniting all the essays: discourse matters. The discourse of protest challenges status quo values and beliefs, thereby opening up new ways of seeing and thinking about the world. "Through dissent the unimaginable becomes imaginable."

Ursula Masson's incisive, well documented essay exposes "the deteriorating relationship" between women and Liberalism from 1906-11, when the Liberal Party did its best to silence women's claims for representation in the nation. Words were the area of contestation, about the relationship of women to the Liberal Party, and about their relationship to the language of radical liberalism.

Editor T. Robin Chapman critically analyses the philosophical and political stance taken by Saunders Lewis in his address to the Caernarfon assize court in October 1936, where, with D. J. Williams and the Rev. Lewis Valentine, he stood accused of arson in Llŷn. Chapman designates the Caernarfon speech as "a metanarrative" rather than a defence, as "gamesmanship", as "metaphysical" justification of the arson.

Damian Walford Davies reviews "the contesting voices" who have sought to translate Waldo Williams's celebrated topographical poem of 1956, Mewn Dau Gae. This "troubled pastoral", first and foremost a political protest poem, excoriates war in Korea and imperial oppression in Cyprus. Of particular interest is Walford Davies's sensitive commentary on the adequacy and felicity of the many translations of Mewn Dau Gae, notably the free rendering by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his From the Welsh of Waldo Williams.

The women's peace movement in Wales in the 1980s, and its catalyst the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp, are the themes explored by Avril Rolph, who here makes a major contribution to Welsh political history. She rescues from oblivion brave, dedicated women, actions such as that of "The Porth Women", the Brawdy March, and the many actions against the Royal Ordnance Factory at Llanisien, Cardiff. Rolph's essay is a worthy tribute to "the unique strength and power of a women's action for peace".

In his 'Devolution: A view from the Right', Conservative AM Nick Bourne cogently reviews the resurgence of Conservative politics and influence in Wales since 1997, and the tribulations and machinations of the parties cohabiting the fledgling National Assembly for Wales. Bourne advocates undogmatic pragmatism, delivering "true devolution" to the people of Wales, moving away from the centralist grip of government and developing local solutions. "Civic Conservatism" is Bourne's new concept. "Localism and devolution is the best way forward for Welsh Conservatives and for Wales".

Similarly concerned with current political discourse is Simon Brooks's challenging, salutary essay 'The Idioms of Race: The "Racist Nationalist" in Wales as Bogeyman'. Conventionally we tend to think of anti-racism as synonymous with the protection of ethnic and cultural minorities. In Wales, the world is turned upside down. Minorities, such as Welsh-language campaigners, are reviled in the name of anti-racism, for alleged intolerance, xenophobia, ethnic hatred. New Labour and the tabloid press have created a bogeyman, the "racist nationalist", a figure more prominent in imagination than in reality. The old smear "nationalism is fascism" is reworked as "nationalism is racism". "To be branded as racist is to have one's discourse delegitimized. It is to be silenced, indeed to be denied the right to speak." Brooks's trenchant analysis of the "big lie" now perverting Welsh political discourse is the acme of this stimulating, scholarly symposium.

The Idiom of Dissent reveals unexpected facets and aspects of our modern history, re-assesses prominent personalities, and brings to light propaganda "dirty tricks" of breathtaking duplicity and malevolence. An important book, making the contentious Wales of the twentieth century "less of a foreign country".

H. G. A. Hughes

It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.

Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.

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