The First World War and the US State Dept.

Cross-posted from the Office of the Historian (US Dept. of State)

Dept. of State*To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Office of the Historian and U.S. Embassy France have carried out a study into the role of the U.S. diplomatic corps stationed in France during 1914–1918. In contrast to the well known record of U.S. actions after it entered the war in April 1917, the stories of U.S. diplomats, consuls, and their family members—particularly during the early months of the crisis (August-December 1914)—were long forgotten, overshadowed by subsequent events of the tumultuous twentieth century. By researching U.S. Government and Government of France records, memoirs, personal papers, and newspaper archives, this study presents a fascinating account of how actions spearheaded by U.S. diplomats—and American citizens—significantly strengthened Franco-American relations in unique, unparalleled ways.

The Office of the Historian has released this electronic preview edition Continue reading

Lloyd George’s Greatest War Speech, 100 Years On

Lloyd George

Richard Toye
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @RichardToye

Today (19 September) is the centenary of David Lloyd George’s speech at the Queen’s Hall in the West End of London. As we digest the news that Scotland’s voters have rejected independence, it is interesting to reflect on the role that a different form of Celtic nationalism played in shaping the rhetoric of the Great War.

In the first autumn of the war, Lloyd George’s carefully cultivated public character was almost perfectly pitched. Continue reading

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Member, African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Member, African Choir, London Stereoscopic Company, 1891. Photograph: Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From uncovering portraits of black Victorians to Star Trek‘s colonial past, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

At the ‘Crossroads of Empire’

JCPC exhibition context

Piers Ford

Cross-posted from the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The London exhibit on law and the British Empire, spearheaded by the Centre’s own Dr. Nandini Chatterjee, has had more than 25,000 visitors so far, and is open to the public until September 26th.

[...] The exhibition – A Court at the Crossroads of Empire: Stories from the JCPC – opened for a two-month run at the beginning of August 2014. Curated by a team of academics related to the “Subjects of Law” network, led by Charlotte, Nandini, and Dr Stacey Hynd (also from the University of Exeter), it traced the JCPC’s evolution from its foundation in 1833 to the emergence of the Commonwealth in the 1950s, largely through the stories of individuals whose cases often had a direct impact on commerce and legal practice, as well as the appellant’s own future – for better or, as it occasionally turned out, worse. Continue reading

Q&A: What Can Red Cross Records Say About History of Humanitarianism & Human Rights?

q&a

An Imperial & Global Forum Interview

Professor Richard Toye (RT) interviews Centre Director Andrew Thompson (AT). Professor Thompson recently returned from an archival visit to the ICRC and would like to thank Jean-Luc Blondel and his colleagues for their assistance and guidance.

RT: Andrew, you’ve recently come back from Geneva, where you’ve been doing some archival research. What were you looking at and why?

AT: I was looking at two sets of files in the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross that have not yet been publicly released. The first on the Nigeria-Biafran War – a watershed in the history of the ICRC as well as a conflict that has been aptly described as the “crucible of modern humanitarianism”. Continue reading

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Map of the “Panacot” shoal, today's Scarborough Shoal, 1770. Drawn by Britain's Royal Hydrographer. National Library of Australia

Map of the “Panacot” shoal, today’s Scarborough Shoal, 1770. Drawn by Britain’s Royal Hydrographer. National Library of Australia

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From using historical maps to thwart Chinese expansion, to the world’s retreat from globalization, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

Decolonization, Revolution, and the EGO

decolonize

Fabian Klose
Cross-posted from Humanitarianism and Human Rights
Follow on Twitter @FabianMKlose

The age of decolonization is of crucial importance for our understanding of today’s world. By dissolving colonial rule around the world, this process led to the emergence of new sovereign states, thereby permanently changing international relations and international law.

The third phase of decolonization is the one most closely associated with the term “decolonization” today – and which refers to the end of European colonial rule after 1945. The process of the dissolution of the European overseas empires had a profound effect on the course of international history during the 20th century. This process occurred relatively quickly given that colonial rule had existed in some cases for a number of centuries. Only after just 30 years, from 1945 to 1975, all the colonial empires had disappeared from the global map.

Continue reading

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Sultan Mahomet, in Paul Rycaut, Paul, The present state of the Ottoman Empire (1670). Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection.

Sultan Mahomet, in Paul Rycaut’s The present state of the Ottoman Empire (1670). Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection.

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From new free digital archives to a new round of history wars, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

Socialism Goes Global: Cold War Connections Between the ‘Second’ and ‘Third Worlds’ 1945-1991

Global-South-America-Brazil-and-Argentina

James Mark
History Department, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter, in collaboration with the Universities of Oxford, Columbia, Leipzig and Belgrade, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and University College London, has recently been awarded a major Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant (2014-18) to address the relationship between what were once called the ‘Second World’ (from the Soviet Union to the GDR) and the ‘Third World’ (from Latin America to Africa to Asia).

In the post-war period, as both decolonization and new forms of globalisation accelerated, new linkages opened up, and existing ties were remade, between these ‘worlds’. Contacts multiplied through, for instance, the development of political bonds; economic development and aid; health and cultural and academic projects; as well as military interventions.

Yet these important encounters, and their impacts on national, regional and global histories, have hitherto only played a marginal role in accounts of late 20th century globalization, which have mainly focused on links between the West and former colonies, or between the countries of the ‘Global South’. Continue reading

Why do We Neglect Radio Sources When Studying #WW2?

World War Two. England. 1938. The family at home, tuning in to hear the news on the radio news. They have gas masks at the ready.

Richard Toye
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @RichardToye

It’s often struck me that historians of World War II don’t make nearly as much use as they might of radio sources.

By contrast, they draw on newspapers to a much greater extent. Of course, the print media was important, but in order to capture people’s lived experience of the conflict the significance of radio has to be appreciated. Continue reading

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

War of 1812

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From knowing your history to looting the White House, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

Virginity Testing: Racism, Sexism, and British Immigration Control

A Victorian-era vaginal speculum.

A Victorian-era vaginal speculum.

Evan Smith and Marinella Marmo
Flinders University

How racist and sexist attitudes formed in the Victorian era resulted in the harsh and discriminatory treatment of women by the immigration control system in the 1960s and 1970s.

In February 1979, The Guardian reported that a number of women had been given gynaecological examinations by immigration control staff in the UK and at British High Commissions in South Asia, in a practice colloquially known as ‘virginity testing’. These tests were predominantly performed on South Asian women seeking to enter the UK on fiancée visas, which were not subject to waiting lists under the Immigration Act 1971. But while these rules allowed fiancées to enter without much paperwork, British immigration officials were also highly suspicious that these visas were being abused, feeding off a wider belief that many South Asian migrants were coming to Britain under false pretences. Continue reading

The @ICRC Archive is Opening its Records from 1966-1975

Nigeria. Biafra conflict. M'Baise province (team 16). Arrival of relief supplies.  Public 1969 © CICR / WITH, R.

Nigeria. Biafra conflict. M’Baise province (team 16). Arrival of relief supplies. Public 1969 © CICR / WITH, R.

Dr Jean-Luc Blondel
Head of the Archives and Information Management Division
International Committee of the Red Cross

Since its founding in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been aware of the importance of keeping a record of its work and of its legacy – in the form of paper and audiovisual archives – to preserve the memories and knowledge of its past and to lay the foundation for its current and future work. Over time, the organization has amassed an outstanding and unique collection that encompasses its own history as well as the history of international humanitarian law and humanitarian action in general.

In January 1996, the ICRC decided to open its archives to the public in broad chronological sections at a time. By shortening the protective embargo on its archives, the ICRC was able to open the 1951-1965 records in 2004, thereby adding to the sources in its collection available for consultation by the public. From January 2015, the 1966-1975 archives will also be open to outside researchers. Continue reading

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

ferguson

Left: photo from 1960s Civil Rights protest. Right: Ferguson protest.

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From Ferguson’s international dimensions to . . . globalization as a game of Scrabble? Here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

How the Antarctic Reframes the Context of Class and Empire

Shackleton Expedition, Antarctica, 1915. Photo: REX

Shackleton Expedition, Antarctica, 1915. Photo: REX

Richard Batten
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @Richard_Batten

Review of Ben Maddison. Class and Colonialism in Antarctic Exploration, 1750-1920. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2014. xii + 247pp. £60 (hardback), ISBN 978-1848934184. ‘Empires in Perspective’ Series.

class and colonialismThe histories of Antarctic exploration have generally tended to focus on the narratives of intrepid explorers such as Ernest Shackleton and Robert F. Scott, who led expeditions of endurance to the arduous polar wilderness of Antarctica. In the view of Ben Maddison, this concentration on the heroism of the Antarctic explorers, who he defines as the Antarctic elite or the ‘masters’, was an understandable consequence of how historians had approached ‘Antarctic history almost exclusively from the rhetoric and records of the masters’ [79]. In Class and Colonialism in Antarctic Exploration, 1750-1920 (2014), Maddison suggests that historians have, unintentionally, strengthened the invisibility of the Antarctic working class because they have been hesitant to engage critically with the voices from below on these expeditions.

Indeed, Maddison argues that it was the ‘gentrification’ of Antarctic exploration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that further contributed to the silencing of the working class. This despite the fact that the expeditions to Antarctica were ‘facilitated by multifarious labours of the working class’ [6]. Consequently, Maddison claims to fill this historical vacuum by providing a substantial new interpretation of the history of Antarctic expeditions. Continue reading