Kidd, Colin 1964-
Kidd, Colin 1964-
Born May 5, 1964.
Office—Department of History, 2 University Gardens, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland. E-mail—[email protected].
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, history department faculty member.
Royal Historical Society (fellow), Royal Society of Edinburgh (fellow).
The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to books, including The Scottish Churches and Parliament, 1707-1999, edited by J. Kirk, Scottish Church History Society, 2001; Scottish History: The Power of the Past, edited by E. Cowan and R. Finlay, Edinburgh University Press, 2002; A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain, edited by H.T. Dickinson, Blackwell, 2002; A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660-1840, edited by Kathleen Wilson, Cambridge University Press, 2004; The Practice of Reform in Health, Medicine and Science, edited by M. Pelling and S. Mandelbrote, Ashgate, 2005; History and Nation, edited by J. Rudolph, Bucknell University Press, 2006; British Political Thought in History, Literature and Theory, 1500-1800, edited by D. Armitage, Cambridge University Press, 2006; The Wallace Book, edited by E.J. Cowan, John Donald, 2007. Contributor to professional journals, including the English Historical Review, British Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies, Historical Journal, Juridical Review, Scottish Historical Review, and Scottish Studies Review. Editor, Scottish Historical Review, 1999-2004.
"I have always had a love of the past," historian Colin Kidd told an interviewer for the Education Forum Web site. "It was certainly a prominent feature of my childhood. I think, however, my initial choice of the eighteenth century as a period of specialisation was inspired by my love of the literature of the period." Kidd, a history professor, has written extensively about the history of Britain and especially Scotland. He is a contributor to many scholarly books; his first three solo works have focused on the idea of identity, whether it is ethnic, racial, or national in nature. His debut book, Subverting Scotland's Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity, 1689-c. 1830, studies the issue of Scottish national identity after the Glorious Revolution that was precursor to the Scottish Enlightenment.
For Kidd, this period resulted in a failure of the creation of a Scottish identity, which made it all the more difficult for Scotland to maintain a distinct nationalism from the rest of Great Britain. "Kidd shows brilliantly," according to Nicholas Phillipson in the English Historical Review, that the rise of a ‘modern’ Whiggery in Scotland meant the displacement of a distinctive, strongly monarchomach historiography which had descended from [John] Knox and [George] Buchanan, had gone into apocalyptic overdrive in the 1640s and just survived the Revolution." The Enlightenment, J.G.A. Pocock explained in his review for the Journal of Ecclesiastical History, "set about replacing humanist historiography with a philosophical history of commerce, manners and morals, and situated Scotland in a universal history without providing it with a national history of its own," adding that the "heart of Kidd's argument … is that Enlightened historiography failed to provide a new version of the Scottish national past." Phillipson was uncertain about whether he agreed with Kidd's theory that Scotland's ideological failures supplanted its intellectual successes, leading to the country being subsumed into the larger Anglo-British identity. However, he concluded that the "great virtue of this remarkable book is that it places such questions centre stage. Scottish historians ought to regard its publication as a historiographical landmark. The sad and interesting thing is that they probably won't."
In British Identities before Nationalism: Ethnicity and Nationhood in the Atlantic World, 1600-1800, Kidd shows that the notion of ethnicity within Great Britain was a fairly recent development in history. For many centuries, Christian peoples throughout Europe and Great Britain held to the biblical notion that everyone was descended from Noah and his family who survived the Flood. Thus, even though the people comprising what might be called an ethnic group today may have descended from a different son of Noah than another group, both could trace their ancestors back to Noah. After establishing this idea in his book, which, according to Alison Games in the Journal of World History "offers a refreshingly new starting point for thinking about identity and nationalism," the author then sets out to discover how the notion of ethnicity evolved on the British Isles, separating, for example, Welsh from Irish, Scot from Briton, Saxon from Norman. The Church of England managed to maintain the biblical consanguinity as an ideal until the eighteenth century, according to Kidd, after which time there began to be increasing ethnic identities. Kidd explores various aspects of the cultures on the British Isles, including the Scottish myth of the kingdom of Dalriada that lent them a certain cultural identity, and the division of Old English, New English, and Old Irish that separated groups in Ireland. "What these examples make abundantly clear is the incredibly rich tapestry of identities people drew on in early modern Britain," reported Games. "Moreover, Kidd's careful research demonstrates the fluidity and mutability of these identities."
By the eighteenth century, the peoples on the British Isles were beginning to see themselves as separate from those in Europe, where there was a connectedness in cultures that Kidd terms "Gothicism." Meanwhile, in Ireland, for example, the people descended from Celts and Goths were beginning to distinguish themselves from one another. Such rifts were forming more as a consequence of growing loyalties to nations, churches, and standards of social conformity than to purely ethnic identifications, but they formed nevertheless. Kidd also explores how British colonialism, particularly to the American colonies, helped create the sense of Britishness verses other classifications of national and ethnic identity. Calling British Identities before Nationalism "an important contribution" to the field analyzing the evolution of British identity, English Historical Review contributor Alexander Murdoch asserted that the author's "achievement is to demonstrate in this learned book just how complex were the origins of the extension of Englishness to others and just how problematic were the origins of concepts of ethnicity that became so influential in modern times."
In a kind of continuation of his previous book, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000 further explores the issue of race and its evolution. As with the idea of ethnicity in British Identities before Nationalism, Kidd notes that racism is not a prejudice supported by the Bible. Indeed, he provides extensive evidence from the Old Testament and the New Testament that racial prejudice was not an issue among ancient peoples, commenting, for example, that Moses had married a black woman and that such a decision was not considered remarkable in the least. Those that try to use Scripture to support their racist ideology, Kidd moreover explains, are imposing their own prejudices onto the pages of the Bible, rather than the other way around. It is with the Enlightenment and the rise of such intellectual philosophies as Deism that people began to adhere to notions of polygenism; that is, the theory that different races stem from separate genetic lines. Philosophers such as Voltaire and David Hume encouraged and propagated the idea that there were distinct races and that some were inferior to others. "Kidd forcefully explains how it would have been so much easier for white southerners to have defended their ‘peculiar institution’ ideologically if they could have accepted polygenesis," reported Timothy Larsen in Books & Culture. Through the rest of his book, Kidd follows how various religious thinkers and leaders actually rejected Christian orthodoxy in favor of a racist philosophy. Larsen described the work as a "well-researched, wide-ranging, and insightful book" that is "persuasive and learned." Journal of Southern Religion Online Web site contributor Randal Maurice Jelks similarly called it "an important book about how the Protestant Bible shaped racial discourse in the Atlantic world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books & Culture, January 1, 2008, "Enlightened Racism," p. 10.
Canadian Journal of History, April, 2001, Richard Connors, review of British Identities before Nationalism: Ethnicity and Nationhood in the Atlantic World, 1600-1800, p. 85.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 1994, C.L. Hamilton, review of Subverting Scotland's Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity, 1689-c. 1830, p. 1777; July, 2007, R. Berleant-Schiller, review of The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, p. 1949.
Contemporary Review, August, 1999, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 110.
Economic History Review, May, 2000, D.W. Hayton, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 360.
Eighteenth-Century Studies, fall, 2007, Vincent Carretta, review of The Forging Races.
English Historical Review, April, 1996, Nicholas Phillipson, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 486; February, 2000, Alexander Murdoch, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 208.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, February, 1995, Rosalind Mitchison, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 136.
History Today, April, 1999, "Britain," p. 52, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 53.
International History Review, June, 2000, Arthur Williamson, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 389.
Journal of British Studies, July, 1996, Bruce P. Lenman, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 408; October, 2001, Michael A. Bellesiles, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 585.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January, 1995, J.G.A. Pocock, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 156.
Journal of Historical Geography, October, 1994, Rab Houston, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 470.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 2000, Joyce Appleby, review of British Identities before Nationalism.
Journal of Modern History, March, 2001, Edward Gregg, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 152.
Journal of World History, fall, 2002, Alison Games, review of British Identities before Nationalism.
Social History, October, 2000, Kathleen Wilson, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 354.
Spectator, January 8, 1994, J. Enoch Powell, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 28.
Times Higher Education Supplement, February 25, 1994, Christopher Harvie, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 24.
Times Literary Supplement, December 17, 1993, Andrew Hook, review of Subverting Scotland's Past, p. 24; September 10, 1999, Anthony Pagden, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 8.
William and Mary Quarterly, October, 2000, Richard R. Johnson, review of British Identities before Nationalism, p. 833.
Education Forum,http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/ (May 29, 2006), John Simkin, "An Interview with Colin Kidd."
Glasgow University Department of History Web site,http://www.gla.ac.uk/ (April 18, 2008), faculty profile.
H-Net Reviews,http://www.h-net.edu/ (April 1, 2000), Myron C. Noonkester, review of British Identities before Nationalism.
Journal of Southern Religion Online,http://jsr.fsu.edu/ (April 18, 2008), Edward J. Blum, review of The Forging of Races; Randal Maurice Jelks, review of The Forging of Races; Rebecca A. Goetz, review of The Forging of Races.