Dr Andrew Phemister

  • The history of boycotting
  • Land reform and radicalism
  • Liberalism and democracy

My current research project examines the development of boycotting as popular political activism, and in particular the profound impact of the practice on liberal political thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Denounced as a form of terrorism, this organised social and economic ostracism nevertheless generally involved a rejection of violence, seeking to highlight instead the interdependence of the individual and the wider community. As such, boycotting threatened the stability of the existing economic order and the authority of the state, yet initially offered no obvious avenues for legal redress. The project employs methodologies from transnational and intellectual history, and draws on original archival research to examine how the use of the boycott destabilized prevailing conceptions of individualism, rational autonomy, and property, and how the practice shaped the political discourse of modern liberalism.