This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Image courtesy of Matt Roth, the Chronicle Review.

Image courtesy of Matt Roth, the Chronicle Review.

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

From the return of grand narratives to how four Caribbean nations ended the Latin American embargo against Cuba, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

3. Virginity Testing: Racism, Sexism, and British Immigration Control

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

3. 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]

4. In Defense of Global History

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

4. In Defense of Global History

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

worldconnectingphoto

[Update: Please also read Professor Bell’s response.]

A recent New Republic article by David A. Bell on the limitations of the ‘global turn’ has been making the rounds this month, and deservedly so. Bell’s article reviews Emily Rosenberg’s 2012 edited volume A World Connecting: 1870-1945. [1] Nestled within it, however, is a much larger critique of the global historiographical shift toward ‘networks’ and ‘globalization’.

Bell’s criticisms are provocative. They are eloquent.

But are they fair? Let’s take a look. [continue reading]

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Anti-war demonstrators mock Rice, Cheney and Bush on 3rd anniversary of Iraq invasion. Justin Sullivan, AFP, Getty Images.

Anti-war demonstrators mock Rice, Cheney and Bush on 3rd anniversary of Iraq invasion. Justin Sullivan, AFP, Getty Images.

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

From one of the 20th century’s most unusual books about empire, to how the neocons led the US to war in Iraq, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

CFP: Progress, Change and Development: Past, Present and Future

Joanna Warson
History Department, University of Portsmouth

An international conference, to be held at University of Portsmouth, 4- 6 June 2015, with the generous support of the Centre for European and International Studies Research, the Society for the Study of French History and the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference will be to bring some of the generation who were involved in attempts to bring about change in the 1960s and 1970s together with researchers, theorists, practitioners, activists from the younger generations today. It will examine and debate how progress and development were conceptualised, practised and imagined during the periods of national liberation struggles, of decolonisation and its aftermath, of political and social upheaval and change. It will analyse successes and failures on all levels and explore new ways of thinking that are being developed at the present time, particularly those that break with the prevailing consensus. Continue reading

5. The Black Hole of Apartheid History

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

5. The Black Hole of Apartheid History

Jamie Miller
Einaudi Center, Cornell University

Why historians should study the regime, not just its opponents

Anti-Apartheid posterLast week’s death of Nelson Mandela prompted outpourings of both admiration and introspection across the globe. Public figures scrambled to portray themselves as long-time supporters of the anti-apartheid cause — even where the historical record of their organisation’s relationship with Mandela undercut the credibility of such posturing (the British Tories readily come to mind). Yet amid the panegyrics, there was plenty of consideration of Mandela’s complex legacy. When Tea Party favourite Ted Cruz declared common cause with Mandela, a supporter wrote on his Facebook page: “Tell the truth Ted!!! Who are you??!! Obama?? Don’t rewrite history to try to get people to like you!!! Educate them!! Mandela was a murderer, terrorist, and a Communist!!!! Can we even trust you to be honest now??!!” A more nuanced analysis appeared in an incisive piece in Foreign Affairs. Historian Ryan Irwin traced Mandela’s elusive legacy to his willingness to embody a pluralist and inclusive vision of the anti-apartheid movement, rather than imposing his own ideological litmus test for would-be allies—be they liberals, pan-Africans, union leaders, or communists.

And yet one thing was conspicuous for its absence over the last week. There has been no effort to describe with any similar specificity what Mandela had defined his life against: the apartheid regime itself. [1] [continue reading]

 

Rethinking Children’s Experiences of War: African Child Soldiers in the Second World War

child soldiers

Child soldiers in Africa are often assumed to be a new phenomenon, linked to the spread of so-called ‘new wars’ and ‘new barbarism’ in the civil wars which swept across the continent in the 1990-2000s. The defining images of the child soldier in today’s humanitarian-inflected discourse are those of the ragged young rebel boy in flip flops with an AK-47 in downtown Monrovia, or the kidnapped Acholi children seized from their families by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. New research, however, is beginning to challenge this assumption, and the idea that child soldiers are always either simply ‘victims’ or ‘perpetrators’.

There is in fact a much longer and deeper history of child soldiering in Africa than has previously been acknowledged. Our seminar groups have been exploring this history by analysing evidence for African children’s recruitment into British forces in the Second World War, looking in particular at the memoirs of former child soldiers who fought in Egypt, Burma and India. Although these memoirs need to be treated carefully, as they are adult recollections of children’s experiences, they reveal striking differences between contemporary and historical accounts of children’s experiences of war. Continue reading

6. Covering Up the Dark Side of Decolonisation

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

6. Covering Up the Dark Side of Decolonisation

Gareth Curless
H
istory Department, University of Exeter

Historians of empire have long suspected that documents from the colonies were transferred back to Britain during the last days of imperial rule, only never to enter into the public domain. It was no small surprise therefore when in April 2011 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), under pressure from a high court judge, admitted that it had a secret archive of nearly 9,000 files from 37 colonies. Perhaps the biggest surprise from the ruling was how easy it was for the FCO to keep these documents hidden from historians for so long.

The FCO claims that it was simply unaware that these files existed. Historians, however, are sceptical of this claim. As David Anderson points out, it is easy for an archive to misplace one document or one file but it is harder to lose what amounts in the case of the ‘migrated’ colonial archive to over 100 linear feet of files. [1] Indeed, the subsequent ‘discovery’ of a further 1.2 million Foreign Office files held at the same site has only served to further undermine the FCO’s claim that it had misplaced or forgotten about the migrated archives. [continue reading]

Call for Applications: Global Humanitarianism Research Academy

Global Humanitarianism

International Research Academy on the History of Global Humanitarianism

Academy Leaders:  

Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)

Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)

Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter)

In co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva) and with support by the German Historical Institute London.

Venues:  

  • Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz
  • Archives of the International Committee of Red Cross, Geneva

Date:                          13-24 July 2015

Deadline:                   31 December 2014

Information on:       

http://hhr.hypotheses.org/ and http://imperialglobalexeter.com/

The international Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy (GHRA) offers research training to advanced PhD candidates and early postdocs. It combines academic sessions at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the Imperial and Global History Centre at the University of Exeter with archival sessions at the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present. Continue reading

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Indian Army troops tour Acropolis, Athens, 1944. NAM. 1990-08-65-211. Courtesy of National Army Museum.

Indian Army troops tour Acropolis, Athens, 1944. NAM. 1990-08-65-211. Courtesy of National Army Museum.

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

From Japan’s rightwing war on history, to the First World War through Arab eyes, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading

7. Allende, the Third World, and Neoliberal Imperialism

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

7. Allende, the Third World, and Neoliberal Imperialism

Chris Dietrich
Assistant Professor, Fordham University
Follow on Twitter @C_R_W_Dietrich

allende“Allende was assassinated for nationalizing the . . . wealth of Chilean subsoil,” Pablo Neruda wrote on September 14, 1973. Neruda was lamenting the overthrow and death of his friend, Chilean President Salvador Allende, a week before he himself succumbed to cancer.  “From the salt-peter deserts, the underwater coal mines, and the terrible heights where copper is extracted through inhuman work by the hands of my people, a liberating movement of great magnitude arose,” he continued.  “This movement led a man named Salvador Allende to the presidency of Chile, to undertake reforms and measures of justice that could not be postponed, to rescue our national wealth from foreign clutches.”  Unfortunately, Allende’s flirtation with economic nationalization ran up against the country’s multinational business interests, particularly those that had support from the U.S. government. His socialist reforms were also ill timed; the U.S. government’s ideological view towards the global economy tended towards the Manichean.

So what was the American role in Allende’s overthrow? [continue reading]

Exeter Postdoc Receives Fritz Stern Prize

Ned picCongratulations to Dr. Ned Richardson-Little on being awarded the German Historical Institute’s Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize for “Between Dictatorship and Dissent: Ideology, Legitimacy and Human Rights in East Germany, 1945-1990″ (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013). Dr. Richardson-Little is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Exeter. Continue reading

8. Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

8. Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire

Andrew Thompson

Centre Director Andrew Thompson explains that if globalization is not to silence the past, we need to delve back into its history – its imperial history.

Almost a century before Christopher Columbus 'discovered' the Americas, Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty undertook voyages across the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans. Photo credit: © Chris Hellier/Corbis

Admiral Zheng He. Almost a century before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas, Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty undertook voyages across the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans. Photo credit: © Chris Hellier/Corbis

‘Globalization’ is among the biggest intellectual challenges facing the humanities and the social sciences today. It is a concept that conveys the sense that we are living in an age of transformation, where change is the only constant, nothing can be taken for granted, and no-one knows what the future might bring. But globalization is also much more than that. To borrow the phrase of the historical sociologist, Mike Savage, it is an ‘epoch description’, something that seeks to define for the current generation the very meaning of social change. By thinking of ourselves as part of a globalized world, we are saying something about how over time our identity has changed. We are locating ourselves in time, differentiating ourselves from our predecessors, signalling a break with what went before.

Champions of globalization are invariably concerned with the present. Their notion of time is unapologetically linear. Crudely exponential assumptions about the ever-increasing pace and scale of scientific and technological change are built into globalization’s teleology, and the belief that what we are experiencing today is as much incomparable as it is irreversible. ‘History’ is thus set to mean less and less for the present generation; the sense of the future as an outgrowth of the past is becoming less and less plausible. [continue reading]

History Carnival #140

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

The veritable treasure trove of historical blogging never ceases to amaze me. It is therefore a pleasure to be hosting History Carnival #140 here at the Imperial & Global Forum for the month of December.

Map of Virginia, discovered and as described by Captain John Smith, 1606; engraved by William Hole (Via Wikimedia commons)

Map of Virginia, discovered and as described by Captain John Smith, 1606; engraved by William Hole (Via Wikimedia commons)

Some cautionary pieces to start off with: George Gosling offers a timely critique of historians’ ill-defined overuse of “transnational” in “The Trouble with Transnational History,” and Matt Houlbrook at the Trickster Prince warns that longue durée historians must be careful lest their focus upon policymakers shuts out the public.

Offering some new perspectives, Bradley Dixon, imagines how small the North American colonies of the British Empire would have appeared from the high vantage point of the Andes for Not Even Past. Unique views are also offered by Heather Campbell, who shifts the focus from Western Europe to the Muslim Middle East during the First World War over at Unspoken Assumptions, and Kelli Huggins, who gives a more literal meaning to dogs of war through her engaging and pictorial account of the canine veterans of the Second World War.

assassinscreedunityimagen

The French Revolution received its share of attention. With the example of the popular first-person game Assassin’s Creed Unity, which is set amid the 1790s French Revolution, David Andress argues that historians need to take video games seriously when they dip into the realm of history. And what about the ghost problem during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror?

Some great detective work from medical historians, as well. Caroline Rance has a guest post at Victorian Supersleuth on the blackmail case “The Soldier and the Quack Doctor,” and Angela Buckley explores an encounter between the ‘real Sherlock Holmes’ and the case of a quack doctor’s dodgy elixir.

Jessica Borge provides a fascinating look at how “the Pill” transformed the 1960s contraceptive industry for the blog Perceptions of Pregnancy, and the Pirate Omnibus explores how the introduction of the communication chord transformed the railway. And we may love finding pieces of history at our local charity shop, but what about the change-over-time history of the charity shop itself?

oyster eating

Last but not least, if you haven’t yet encountered Dando the famous 19th-century gormandizing oyster eater, you can read all about him at All Things Georgian.

I hope you enjoy the posts in this month’s History Carnival. The next will be hosted at Performing Humanity on January 1st.

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

turkey map

Flickr/The Atlantic

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

From the international origins of ‘turkey’, to the global response to Ferguson, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading