This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

An old water tower stands near abandoned outhouses on the former site of a Firestone plantation in Liberia. Patrick Robert/Sygma/Corbis/Sygma via Getty Images.

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

From the run up to perestroika to why companies with long histories should open up their archives, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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We are hiring! Lecturer in Modern British and/or Irish History

Lecturer in Modern British and/or Irish History (Education and Research)

Application closing date: 09/06/2022

Location: Exeter

Salary: The starting salary will be from £36,382 per annum on Grade F, depending on qualifications and experience.

Package: Generous holiday allowances, flexible working, pension scheme and relocation package (if applicable).

Basis: Full-time

Job category/type: Academic

This full time, permanent post is available 1st August 2022.

The role

The successful applicant will be based in the Department of History, a diverse and thriving community of over 65 staff and 1000 undergraduate students, which is consistently rated among the Top 10 History Departments in the UK.

You will be expected to contribute to delivering research of the highest international quality, drive innovative research and education at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and expand interdisciplinary collaboration. We are keen to receive applications from candidates with research expertise in any aspect of modern British and/or Irish (post c.1900). This includes innovative areas of disciplinary and interdisciplinary research expertise that consolidates and extends our existing strengths connecting British history with wider global histories. These include the legacies of colonialism, Transatlantic history, migration, violence, and conflict. Preference will be given for candidates with demonstrable capability to deliver teaching within a Liberal Arts programme. We particularly welcome applications from candidates whose research engages with questions of gender and sexuality, disability, race and/or ethnicity, and adopts decolonizing approaches to dominant paradigms in the history of twentieth- and twenty-first century Britain.  The College also welcomes applications from candidates with experience or interests in digital humanities.

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Modern Transimperial and Interimperial Histories: Forms, Questions, Prospects

The Japanese Cruiser Kongo in Istanbul, 1891 by Luigi Acquarone 1800–1896

THURSDAY 12 MAY 2022 – SATURDAY 14 MAY 2022

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Maison de la paix, chemin Eugène-Rigot 2, 1202 Genève

The Annual Pierre du Bois Conference, organized by the Graduate Institute in partnership with the Pierre du Bois Foundation, will take place at Maison de la Paix in Geneva from 12-14 May 2022. Professor Cyrus Schayegh is organizing the conference.

Louise Young, the ‘Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’ will give the Keynote Lecture titled, Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Changing Sightlines on the Japanese Empire.

Background

The scholarly context for the Pierre du Bois Annual Conference 2022 is a fascinating development in the discipline of history in the last decade: the rising interest in trans- and interimperial histories. These build on studies showing that a single empire’s metropole and colonies need to be empirically and conceptually integrated. In the first decade of the 21st century, such more contextualized and decentered histories of empire started evolving into trans- and interimperial histories proper. Inspired by an earlier turn to transnational and global histories, respective historians have been critiquing a deeply rooted and ultimately nationally-biased tendency, by many historians of empire, to focus empirical research and even conceptual conclusions on one single empire. The rise of trans- and interimperial histories crystallized by the 2010s—though it was, one may say, predated by older studies of nonEuropean modern empires. While methodologically dissimilar to present trans- and interimperial studies, these studies quasi by necessity paid considerable attention to (often unequal) relationships especially with modern European and American empires.

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Brexit One Year On: The Will of the People: Did Brexit Break the British Constitution?

British, Irish and Empire Studies
University of Texas at Austin

Scholars Stuart Ward and Robert Saunders explore the complicated relationships among Brexit, the British people and the British Constitution

Wednesday April 27, 2022 • Virtual

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Please join us at noon CDT on Wednesday, April 27, for the final installment in our spring virtual speaker series, Brexit One Year On: “The Will of the People: Did Brexit Break the British Constitution?” Scholars Stuart Ward of Copenhagen University and Robert Saunders of Queen Mary College University of London will delve into the complex relationships of Brexit, the British people, and the British Constitution. Marc-William Palen of Exeter University will chair.

Please register in advance using this Zoom link:

https://utexas.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIsdOCgrjgrHt3wb9OwR_f_Wc-C4V_zii09

After you register, you will receive information on how to join the meeting.

Questions? Contact the BIES staff at Marian.Barber@austin.utexas.edu.

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Pakhtuns in Imperial Service During the First World War: Cooperation and Resistance

Cavalrymen of the 9th Hodson’s Horse in France, 1917 (Wikimedia commons).

Timur Khan
Leiden University

Today activists in Pakistan, particularly ethnic Pakhtuns and Baluch, evoke the idea of colonial governance when criticizing the Pakistani state’s abuses in their war-torn and marginalized homelands. Take the words of leading Pakhtun activist Manzoor Pashteen: “When we demand our rights, equal rights, and protest against this colonial-like treatment of our people, we’re thrown [in]to jails indefinitely.” Colonialism’s legacy continues to dominate the lives of millions. ‘Pathan,’ or more properly Pakhtun or Pashtun, soldiers’ experiences in British service during the First World War are seldom given dedicated coverage. However, they can illuminate important developments in the formation of this colonial legacy in modern Pakistan: both its consolidation through indigenous allies, and resistance to it.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

A 19th-century illustration of two yellow fever victims in New Orleans Bettmann / Getty Images

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

From the West’s demonization of ancient Persia to how yellow fever intesified racial inequality in 19th-century New Orleans, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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How One South African Poet Reformed the Olympics to Combat Apartheid

Dennis Brutus takes sports to the streets, 1987. Dennis Brutus at Philadelphia Demonstration against Apartheid. Photograph. Philadelphia. This image comes from the private collection of Harvey Finkle.

Henry Jacob
University of Cambridge

Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), a father of the modern Olympic Games, framed his philosophy of sport around elitist principles. The French baron considered aristocratic white males as the “only true Olympic hero[es].”[2] While ignoring the blatant racism and classism of his beliefs, de Coubertin insisted that athletics transcended social concerns. Ironically, he lamented  that “politics is making its way into the heart of every issue,” though he maintained that the competition’s purity derived from its supposed apolitical nature.[3] Soon after the death of de Coubertin, South African poet Dennis Brutus (1924-2009) intuited the contradictions of the Frenchman’s Olympism. Discriminatory laws showed Brutus how governmental affairs plagued athletics in his homeland. Over his decades-long campaign to ban his country’s participation in the Olympics, Brutus struggled to win justice while disputing de Coubertin’s logic. In dismantling the Frenchman’s tenets, he pioneered a novel Olympism, one that pursued connection among humans rather than distinctions along racial lines.

This piece intersects with the historiographies of sports, civil rights, and apartheid in South Africa. To start, this essay draws upon the work of leading specialists on South Africa such as Saul Dubow. In particular, his Racial Segregation and the Origins of Apartheid in South Africa, 1919-1936 and Apartheid, 1948-1994 have informed this blog post. Dubow’s studies on the roots, and the persistence of Apartheid, throughout the twentieth century provide insights on the system against which Brutus struggled. In addition, this piece takes inspiration from critical interdisciplinary perspectives on the Olympics. Sidonie Smith, Kay Schaffer, Kevin Wamsley, and Kevin Young have dissected the dynamics of symbols, power, and politics in the modern games. Of course, this piece also seeks to engage with existing literature on Brutus himself. In recent years, academics have devoted more energies to evaluating the South African’s career and legacy. Edited volumes such as Critical Perspectives on Dennis Brutus as well as Poetry and Protest: a Dennis Brutus Reader attest to the richness of this subfield. Even more, Tyrone August released a monograph in 2020 that deals with Brutus’s early years in South Africa before his 1966 exile. On the whole, this piece seeks to complement these scholars who have provided such lucid surveys of South Africa, the Olympics, and how Brutus blended poetics and activism.

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In Plain Sight: Decolonising the Museum

Detail from Joy Gregory’s The Sweetest Thing (2021)

Anabelle Howorth, Alex Jones, and Tim Robertson

As students on the British World module at Exeter we recently discussed why the place of the colonial past has become so contentious over the last thirty years. In doing so, we considered the concerns of the ‘new museology’ in seeking to make museums fora for public engagement and discussion of this past. We also considered recent attempts to raise awareness of the region’s connections with colonialism, such as the ‘In Plain Sight’ exhibition at the RAMM in Exeter, which traces Devon’s connections with the Atlantic slave trade. The exhibition does an excellent job of providing a new understanding of the overlooked connections between places we see everyday and one of the darkest episodes in history. In particular, Joy Gregory’s commissioned work, ‘The Sweetest Thing’ highlights the connections between local wealthy families and slavery in the Caribbean. The tapestry includes compensation figures, which were awarded to claimants by the British government following the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. Knowledge of the huge sums awarded to former slave owners has become more widespread over recent years through the digitisation of records by the Legacies of British Slave Ownership project but it is still rare for a regional museum to feature this history prominently.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Map of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park in London. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

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

From new online West African archives to the problems with the ‘balance sheet’ approach to the history of imperialism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Ben Jones, History Today

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

From the race to archive Ukrainian websites to the end of globalization, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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Dutch Colonial Violence and the Missing Voices of Indonesians

Indonesia-Netherlands_indonesian-veterans-victims_@Adek-Berry-AFP-730x486
Indonesian veterans commemorate victims of massacres by the Dutch army in the 1940s in 2013. The Indonesian experience of colonial violence is often overlooked in the Netherlands. © Adek Berry / AFP
 
Roel Frakking and Anne Van Mourik

The Dutch continue to widely underestimate their colonial violence of the past. The publication of the hard-hitting conclusions of the Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia 1945-1950-program revealed the Dutch state actively condoning systematic and structural violence during Indonesia’s War for Independence. Discourse management, short-term perspectives and diminished Indonesian perspectives explain how Dutch perpetratorship is still under negotiation in the Netherlands.

On February 17, researchers of the Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia 1945-1950 program (IDVWI) presented their results. They concluded that Dutch armed forces structurally and systematically utilised “extreme violence” to stamp out the Republic of Indonesia that had declared itself independent on 17 August 1945. They added that politicians, civilian and military authorities, including their legal systems, looked away, condoned and silenced colonial violence both in Indonesia and The Hague, the Netherlands’ capital city. 

Reactions came fast and furious. Prime minister Mark Rutte apologised to “the people of Indonesia”, but also to Dutch veterans and all the communities violently touched by the war, from 1945 onwards. The displaced Indo-European community feared rehabilitation of those who had forced them from Indonesia. Veterans, in turn, accused researchers of writing about matters they do not understand. 

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Taberna de Moe. San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. Tamlin Magee.

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

From whether sanctions can stop Russia to why bootleg Moe’s Taverns are all over Latin America, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

A sign indicates the highest fire alert level. Sydney, Australia, December 2019. Photograph: David Gray/Getty Images

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

From humanity’s weird history with fire to Putin’s parallels with 19th-century US imperialism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Adolf Hitler and his army parade, Prague, March 15, 1939, the day of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Wehrmacht. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

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

From Russia’s long history of economic isolation to Putin’s Hitler-like tactics, a special Ukrainian edition of this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Living Timeline: Paul Robeson Mural by Art Bloc DC. Exterior wall of 1351 U Street, NW, Washington DC, June 21, 2015. Captured by Elvert Barnes Photography (Flickr)

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

From Paul Robeson the revolutionary to Biden’s new Cold war, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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