This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds, 1941. From left to right: Solomon Linda, Gilbert Madondo, Boy Sibiya, Gideon Mkhize, Samuel Mlangeni and Owen Sikhakhane.

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

From the pastor as pugilist to another side of W. E. B. Du Bois, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Lecturer in Colonial/Postcolonial History and/or Environmental History (E&R)

Job Description

Humanities and Social Sciences (Cornwall) seeks to appoint an outstanding full time Lecturer (Education and Research) in Colonial/Postcolonial History and/or Environmental History to support the development and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The successful candidate will join a team of accomplished scholars whose research and teaching combines discipline-specific expertise with interdisciplinary insight and creativity. This is an exciting opportunity to join an interdisciplinary department committed to promoting innovative and
transformative teaching and research. We are keen to welcome an academic with an exciting research profile and track record of excellence, including grant applications and internationally recognised publications, commensurate with career stage. We are particularly interested to hear from applicants whose research is focused
on colonial and postcolonial history with a strong interest in environmental history. The ideal candidate will be engaged in cutting-edge research and will show ambition to become a leader in their field of expertise. Applicants should demonstrate a willingness to deliver innovative teaching that will engage students from diverse backgrounds at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The successful candidate will present a keen interest in research-led teaching and exploring the potential of codesigning cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary programmes and teaching activities. Applicants
should consider their contribution to teaching and research culture, and how they would build the profile of History alongside and in collaboration with History, Literature, Languages, Politics and Law in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (Cornwall).

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Roundtable Panel—Christy Thornton’s Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy

Christy Thornton, Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy (University of California Press, 2021)

Cross-posted from the Toynbee Prize Foundation

Christy Thornton’s Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy (University of California Press, 2021) places Mexico at the center of histories of international economic governance. In the wake of Mexico’s exclusion from international capital markets following its 1914 default, she argues, Mexican economists and diplomats began to consider the nature of sovereignty, political and economic, and imagine a reconfiguration of international credit-debt relationships in order to foster development. Rather than envision autarky, Mexican leaders pursued a politics of both recognition and redistribution on the international stage from the interwar period to the crafting of the New International Economic Order (NIEO) in the 1970s. Recognition entailed equitable representation in multilateral institutions, while redistribution meant long-term, concessionary lending. According to Thornton, their reckonings with the existing international economic order presaged modernization and dependency theory and reached a climax when President Luis Echeverría Álvarez led the movement to author and pass the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.

In offering a story of multiplicity and cooptation, Thornton reinterprets US hemispheric hegemony and provides an ambiguous, cautionary tale. Charting the interface of domestic and international politics, she traces the shift from a revolutionary social program to state developmentalism alongside Mexico’s advocacy for institutions aimed at international development. She assesses the rise and fall the project for an Inter-American Bank as first coopted by US planners, successfully resisted by US capitalists, and ultimately contributing to figures within the US government recognizing the importance of multilateral financial institutions as a pillar of hegemony.

Revolution in Development marks a major contribution to a wave of international history increasingly emphasizing the salience of the interwar period for economic thought (e.g. Jamie Martin, The Meddlers: Sovereignty, Empire, and the Birth of Global Economic Governance) and the role of thinkers from the Global South in shaping and challenging postcolonial and neo-colonial orders (e.g. Eric Helleiner, Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods; Adom Getachew, Worldmaking After Empire). Revolution in Development bridges these bodies of scholarship by crossing the “decolonization divide.”

In this roundtable, historians of debt and development from Egypt to India and international political economy in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries respond to Thornton’s insight-filled and thought-provoking work. We have invited three scholars with wide-ranging perspectives—Elizabeth Chatterjee, Aaron Jakes, and Marc-William Palen—to offer responses to Revolution in Development. Christy Thornton then replies to the roundtable contributions. We thank them all for their engagement.

—Liat Spiro, College of the Holy Cross

Participant Bios

Christy Thornton is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of the Program in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies at Johns Hopkins University. She is also the Co-Director, with Quinn Slobodian, of the History and Political Economy Project. A scholar of global inequality and development, labor and social movements, and Latin American political economy, she is author of Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy (University of California Press, 2021). Before graduate school, she served as the Executive Director of the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), a 50-year-old research and advocacy organization. Her current project, “To Reckon with the Riot: Global Economic Governance and Social Protest,” investigates the impact of social protest around the world on international financial institutions (IFIs), asking how widespread protest against policy implemented at the behest of organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization was understood inside those institutions. 

Elizabeth Chatterjee is Assistant Professor of Environmental History at the University of Chicago, where she specializes in energy history, critical infrastructure studies, and the history of capitalism in India. Her current book project, Electric Democracy, traces the flows of electricity to provide an energy-centered history of India’s transforming political economy since independence in 1947. Among other topics, her other recent and forthcoming publications explore the early history of solar energy and international development, the comparative political economy of “fuel riots,” and the place of Asia in the planetary history of the Anthropocene.

Aaron Jakes is Assistant Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History and the College at the University of Chicago. He is author of Egypt’s Occupation: Colonial Economism and the Crises of Capitalism (Stanford University Press, 2020), which explores both the political economy of the Egyptian state and the role of political-economic thought in the struggle over British rule in Egypt following the occupation of 1882. With interests in the historical geography of global capitalism, comparative studies of colonialism and empire, and environmental history, he has published articles in Comparative Studies of Society and HistoryCritical Historical StudiesAntipodeInternational Journal of Middle East Studies, and Arab Studies Journal. He is currently at work on a project tentatively titled Tilted Waters: The World the Suez Canal Made.

Marc-William Palen is Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter and a member of the Centre for Imperial and Global History. His research focuses on British and American empires, exploring how political economy, gender, humanitarianism, and ideology have shaped global imperial expansion. He is author of The ‘Conspiracy’ of Free Trade (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which charts how the ideological conflict between free traders and economic nationalists reshaped Anglo-American party politics and imperial expansion in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. He is currently writing a history of the intersections of global capitalism, anti-imperialism, and peace activism from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.

Continue reading “Roundtable Panel—Christy Thornton’s Revolution in Development: Mexico and the Governance of the Global Economy”

Richard Toye on the Iraq War 20 years on

Professor Richard Toye (University of Exeter) weighs in on the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq for International Affairs and TRT World.

Symposium: The Iraq war 20 years on

Oula Kadhum, Louise Fawcett, Richard Toye, Aysegül Kibaroglu, and Ramazan Caner Sayan
International Affairs

20 years on from the start of the Iraq war, the conflict continues to cast a long shadow. In this blogpost we bring together contributors to International Affairs to discuss the war’s impact on contemporary international relations. From its lasting effects on the Iraqi diaspora and Iraq’s water system to the long-term shifts it triggered in the wider politics of the Middle East and British foreign policy, the authors of this symposium outline some of the many ways in which the Iraq war still shapes international politics. [continue reading]

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Cocktails, curry and afternoon tea: inside the 1930s London conference that brought Gandhi to Buckingham Palace

Conference attendees, from top left: Sir Syed Sultan Ahmed, Mahatma Gandhi, Sir Ganga Singh, Maharaja of Bikaner, Sarojini Naidu, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Radhabai Subbarayan, Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Dr BS Moonje, Jahan Ara Shahnawaz, J Ramsay MacDonald, Sir Jai Singh Prabhakar, Maharaja of Alwar.Indian Round Table Conference,1930-31; Derso and Kelen Collection, MC205, Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Stephen Legg, University of Nottingham

It was the talk of the town. From afternoon teas at Buckingham Palace to lunches, dinners and drinks provided by London’s political hostesses. Between 1930 and 1932, India’s social and political leaders headed to London to negotiate the constitutional future of India in the British empire.

The Round Table Conference is mostly remembered for Gandhi’s unsuccessful participation in the second session – where he failed to reconcile competing Hindu and Muslim demands. But this was only one small part of a conference of over 100 delegates.

Its three long sessions (two months, then three, then one) were captured by the world’s news media. UK prime minister Ramsay MacDonald’s concluding address from St James’s Palace
was filmed and broadcast in cinemas worldwide, as was the positive reaction of Indian delegates.

This was part of the retaliation against Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement of nonviolence and noncooperation against the British government.

Indian nationalists had been growing increasingly impatient for greater self-government in the 1920s. Divisions were rising between religious groups and politicians across the Indian empire.

To break the deadlock the British Labour government agreed to host an experiment in the new art of modern, international conferencing – turned to imperial ends.

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PhD Scholarships for Black British Researchers at the University of Exeter

University of Exeter PhD Scholarships for Black British Researchers in the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Ref: 4727

About the award

Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

This programme offering 4-year fully-funded PhD studentships to support Black British researchers has been established by philanthropic donations from University of Exeter alumni – you can read more about the donors here

About the scholarship scheme

The aim of these scholarships is to help improve access and participation in PhD study for talented Black British students.  Each studentship offers a comprehensive funding and support package designed to enable students to succeed in their PhD programme and beyond, including:

• 4 years of stipend funding at the UKRI rate (currently £17,668 for 2022/23)
• Funding for tuition fees the Home fee rate
• A research training support grant (to cover project costs; ranging from £2,000 minimum up to maximum of £10,000 for higher cost projects)
• The opportunity to undertake a placement of up to 6 months (in total) during the 4-year PhD programme (with access to additional funding of up to £2,500 to support placement costs).
• Access to mentoring support (specific to this studentship scheme)

Studentships can be held on a full-time or a part-time basis (part-time awards will be made on a pro-rate basis).  Students on this scheme are expected to register on campus-based PhD programmes (i.e. distance learning is not supported).

Continue reading “PhD Scholarships for Black British Researchers at the University of Exeter”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

The son of Robert “Whitey” Fuller, director of publicity for Dartmouth athletics, and other children playing football, Dartmouth, 1946. Bettmann/Getty Images

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

From the purposeful violence of Cold War football to new perspecives during the Indonesian Independence War, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Parliamentary Empire, British Democracy and settler colonialism: a new Talking Empire podcast

Professor Richard Toye interviews Professor David Thackeray, also of the University of Exeter and the centre of Imperial Global History. David is principal investigator on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which is called ‘Parliamentary Empire, British Democracy and settler colonialism, 1867 to 1939’.

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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

“Hare Indian Dog” by John Woodhouse Audubon, from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845-1848). (Whitney Western Art Museum 14.88.2, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyo.)

From Mexico’s lead role in the NIEO to Mexico’s nuclear arms control leadership, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Entangled empires and the future of imperial intellectual history


Vichy propaganda representing Britain’s wartime imperial reach.

Alex Middleton
University of Oxford

The immediate future of modern imperial history seems certain to involve more books about the entanglements between empires. Writing on the seams that connected nineteenth- and twentieth-century empires with one another has gathered rapidly in momentum over the last decade, and conferences on the overlaps between imperial projects continue to proliferate.[1] So we can anticipate hearing considerably more about the flurry of new and rediscovered ‘hyphenated imperialisms’ which have been used to frame some of this work, pre-eminently ‘inter-imperialism’, ‘trans-imperialism’, ‘co-imperialism’, and ‘sub-imperialism’.[2] More such prefixes will doubtless emerge, and each will present slightly different conceptual and methodological challenges for the various imperial-historical sub-disciplines. This post outlines some possible future priorities for imperial intellectual history – the study of more developed ideas about the expansion, management, nature, and history of empires – as historians search for ways to organise ‘entangled’ histories of imperial thought.[3]

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Linguistic Landscapes: Using Signs and Symbols to Translate Cities

June 26-30, 2023

Call for applications: December 1, 2022 – February 28, 2023 via the VIU website

This course focuses on the growing interdisciplinary field of Linguistic Landscapes (LL), which traditionally analyses “language of public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government buildings”, usually as they occur in urban spaces. More recently, LL research has evolved beyond studying only verbal signs into the realm of semiotics, thus extending the analytical scope into the multimodal domain of images, sounds, drawings, movements, visuals, graffiti, tattoos, colours, smells as well as people. 

Students will be informed about multiple aspects of modern LL research including an overview of different types of signs, their formal features as well as their functions.

Kurt Feyaerts, KU Leuven
Claire Holleran, University of Exeter
Eliana Maestri, University of Exeter
Michela Maguolo, Iuav University of Venice
Luca Pes, Venice International University
Paul Sambre, KU Leuven
Richard Toye, University of Exeter

Continue reading “Linguistic Landscapes: Using Signs and Symbols to Translate Cities”

Masterclass – PhD proposal and funding 101

Are you considering a Phd? In this Eventbrite masterclass the experts disclose the secrets to a successful PhD proposal. Learn to apply like a pro!

When: Tue, 6 December 2022, 15:00 – 16:30 GMT

Where: Online

Learn how to write a PhD proposal, and apply for funding with this online masterclass.

Our experts will discuss the main funding schemes available and offer advice on how to decide your next move. They will also cover the ideal PhD proposal structure and key things to include.

There will be workshop segments and plenty of time for questions, and PGR involvement on the panel too.

Hosted by the Archaeology and History department at the University of Exeter, we invite all those (of any discipline) who are interested in the PhD application process. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please reserve a spot – the link will be emailed to you prior to the event.

If you have any questions, email James Davey at or your prospective supervisor.

Click here to reserve a free spot

World population has reached 8 billion – India’s history reminds us why population control is still a bad idea

Family Planning imagery on an Indian postage stamp, 1967. Attribution: Post of India, GODL-India, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rebecca Williams
University of Exeter

World population has probably now reached 8 billion. For many, this will be a cause for alarm rather than celebration. However, Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has rightly cautioned against ‘population alarmism’ and warned against population control measures, saying these have historically been ‘ineffective and even dangerous.’ Some commentators call for calm on the basis that past and present projections of runaway population growth leading directly to mass famine and other catastrophes have been overblown. A brief look back at the history of India’s experience of population control reminds us why population alarmism and population control can be so harmful.

Continue reading “World population has reached 8 billion – India’s history reminds us why population control is still a bad idea”

Waking up a sleepy world: U.S. Textbook Narratives of Imperialism

Stephen Jackson
University of Sioux Falls

For the past century, the World History course has been one of the most important ways that secondary students in the United States formally learn about imperialism. Fascinatingly, World History thrived in American high schools long before it emerged as an organized subfield at the university level.[1]

In my new book The Patchwork of World History in Texas High Schools: Unpacking Eurocentrism, Imperialism, and Nationalism in the Curriculum 1921-2021, I argue that American students have been exposed to largely triumphalist narratives of empire. While textbooks readily admit that imperialism was difficult for non-Western peoples, they overwhelmingly associate imperialism with the arrival of modernity and progress, a narrative trope reminiscent of J.M. Blaut’s concept of Eurocentric diffusionism.[2] Over time textbooks have become more nuanced, and the criticisms of empire have mounted, but this core idea of imperialism as a catalyst for progress and development remains standard fare in American classrooms today.

Continue reading “Waking up a sleepy world: U.S. Textbook Narratives of Imperialism”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Piazza del Quirinale during the 1922 March on Rome putting Mussolini in power. Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/Getty Images.

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter

From fascism’s liberal admirers to how a defender of American Empire became a dissenter, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”