Last year, the return of blue passports was touted as a symbol of Britain taking back control following Brexit. Some in government would now like to see Britain’s imperial measurements make a comeback. As part of a review on EU laws still in place after Brexit, the government plans to remove a ban on selling goods using only imperial units.
The collective memory of many eurosceptics is that the metric system was imposed by Europe in the 1970s upon an unwilling British public. There was political turmoil over quotidian tasks – buying milk and beer in litres rather than in pints. Metric measurements made European integration seem very real, close to home and highly undesirable to some.
A succession of European directives on measurements crystallised and maintained the sceptical view that Brussels was forcing even the Queen to obey European laws. Politicians pointed to Brussels compulsorily replacing pints and inches with litres and metres as evidence that joining Europe meant a loss of British identity.
In fact, metrication was not imposed on Britain after joining the EEC in 1975. British industrialists lobbied politicians to commit to a programme on metrication in the 1960s. The commitment to metrication and currency decimalisation precedes Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. But measurement systems have long been used as convenient tools and symbols for political ends.
The English state had unsuccessfully attempted to introduce standardised measurements at least since the Magna Carta of 1225. Indeed, the traditional imperial measurements in the form we recognise today only date to 1824, with the passage of the Weights and Measures Act.
A select committee of the British parliament in 1758 sought to remove the “despotic influence” of tradition from the British measurement system. But successive legislative reforms of Britain’s measurements in 19th century consistently rejected the decimal metric system.
Ironically, since 1960 all measurement systems worldwide – including the British and US imperial systems – are calibrated to the Système International d’Unités (SI) which in turn are based on the historical metric system devised in France during the 1790s. Continue reading “Return of imperial system on cards for Brexit Britain – measurements have always been political”
From spies, lies and doublethink to revolutionary conspiracies, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
History Department, University of Exeter
Our friends and colleagues at British, Irish and Empire Studies at the University of Texas at Austin (Prof. Philippa Levine, Director) have announced their full lineup for this term’s virtual speaker series on ‘Black Britain’. Further details (including a link to register, etc.) below. UK readers, please note that the first seminar is this evening (6pm GMT).Continue reading “Black Britain Virtual Speaker Series (starting 4 Oct.)”
From the captive photograph to Cold War disinformation, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
Centre for Imperial and Global History Research Seminars
All seminars take place at 3.30pm-5.00pm, and are currently scheduled live and on-campus
Wednesday 22 September (Week 1), 3.30pm-5.00pm:
CIGH Social and Welcome Back to Campus
We welcome new and returning researchers back to campus and celebrate the start of the new term. Wine, nibbles, and cake provided!
Wednesday 06 October (Week 3), 3.30pm-5.00pm:
Margot Tudor, University of Exeter
‘Testing the Waters: Experiments in an International Military, 1946-1955’
Wednesday 20 October (Week 5), 3.30pm-5.00pm:
Myles Osborne, University of Colorado Boulder
‘Mau Mau and Jamaica: An African War in the Caribbean’
Wednesday 03 November (Week 7), 3.30pm-5.00pm:
Henry Knight-Lozano, University of Exeter
‘Emulation and Empire: California, Hawai‘i, and U.S. Settler Colonialism in the Late Nineteenth Century’
Wednesday 17 November (Week 9), 3.30pm-5.00pm:
Alexander Keese, Université de Genève
‘Writing a global history of forced labour in the 19th and 20th centuries – between the megatrends and two micro-laboratories of plantation labour (São Tomé e Príncipe, Suriname).’ N.B. we will assemble together on campus with Prof. Keese streaming in live from Geneva.
Wednesday 1 December (Week 11), 3.30pm-5.00pm:
Postgraduate Research Symposium
Three Exeter PGRs working on Imperial and Global History share works in progress. More details to follow soon!
To join the CIGH mailing list contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul M.M. Doolan
In December 1949, the Netherlands was forced to hand over sovereignty of its colony, the Dutch East Indies, to the Republic of Indonesia. Their long domination of the Indonesian archipelago had come to a brutal end with the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949). Hundreds of thousands of Dutch who had called the former colony home repatriated to the metropole and 150,000 soldiers returned from a war that had proven futile. Their memories were not forgotten, though their compatriots did not care to hear their stories. During the decades that followed, the war faded from Dutch collective memory. Today it frequently makes the news.
The foundations for unremembering had already been constructed during the war, by means of official representations of the war. Carefully contrived representations, including visual representations, gave the impression that the Dutch military were involved in a great humanitarian exercise, not in a war. The Dutch military authorities contrived this false impression, but the press distributed and the public consumed this manipulated image, producing a fiction that would complicate the act of remembering in the future.Continue reading “A Fictional War: Dutch propaganda and the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949)”
Lecturer (E&S) in Modern History
Job reference S63958
Date posted 20/09/2021
Application closing date 04/10/2021
Salary The starting salary will be from £36,382 up to £47,419 on Grade (F), depending on qualifications and experience.
Package Generous holiday allowances, flexible working, pension scheme and relocation package (if applicable).
This full time role is available immediately on a fixed-term contract until August 2022. The successful applicant must be able to start no later than 1 November 2021.
The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university in the top 200 universities worldwide. We combine world-class teaching with world-class research, and have achieved a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework Award 2017. We have over 22,000 students and 4600 staff from 180 different countries and have been rated the WhatUni2017 International Student Choice. Our research focuses on some of the most fundamental issues facing humankind today, with 98% of our research rated as being of international quality in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. We encourage proactive engagement with industry, business and community partners to enhance the impact of research and education and improve the employability of our students.
The role of Lecturer in Modern History (Education and Scholarship) in the Department of History will include supporting the student learning experience using a range of approaches and modes of delivery appropriate to the teaching allocated. The post-holder will support the design and delivery of innovative and high-quality teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The ability to teach introductory, first-year modules on US history (post-1850) is desirable.
For further details and to apply click here
From 9/11’s lost news coverage to France’s brutal post-colonial legacy in West Africa, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
A special Afghanistan edition of this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
College: College of Humanities
Reference No: R63958
Date posted 19/08/2021
Application closing date 02/09/2021
Salary The starting salary will be from £36,382 on Grade F, depending on qualifications and experience.
Package Generous holiday allowances, flexible working, pension scheme and relocation package (if applicable).
This full time role is available immediately on a fixed term contract until August 2022.
The role of Lecturer in Modern American History (Education and Scholarship) in the Department of History will include supporting the student learning experience using a range of approaches and modes of delivery appropriate to the teaching allocated. The post-holder will support the design and delivery of innovative and high-quality blended teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Expertise in American History (post-1850) and the history of the civil rights movement is essential.
- Possess sufficient breadth or depth of specialist and core knowledge in the discipline, demonstrated by a PhD or equivalent in Modern American History to develop teaching programmes, and teach and support learning
- Use a range of delivery techniques to enthuse and engage students
- Participate in and develop external networks, for example, to contribute to student recruitment, secure student placements, facilitate outreach work, generate income, obtain consultancy projects, or build relationships for future activities
- Have evidence of excellent teaching identified by peer review and have made an impact at discipline level
- Be expected to work towards Fellow of the HEA status
Please ensure you read our Job Description and Person Specification for full details of this role.Continue reading “Post: Lecturer in Modern American History”
The Pierre du Bois Annual Conference, organised by the Graduate Institute in partnership with the Pierre du Bois Foundation and with support from the Swiss National Science Foundation, will take place at Maison de la paix.
Michael Goebel, Professor of International History and Politics and Pierre du Bois Chair Europe and the World, is organising the Conference.
A keynote lecture titled “Being in Time: The Experience of Nationhood” will be given by Bernard Yack, the Lerman Neubauer Professor of Democracy and Public Policy at Brandeis University.
Registration: Click here to register for events.
From how Latin America reimagined classical political economy to asking who is responsible for Afghanistan’s tragedy, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
On July 26 1971, a top secret cabinet meeting ended what was then Australia’s longest conflict. The public would hear about it for the first time in August, when Prime Minister William McMahon announced the withdrawal of Australian forces from Vietnam.
Eighteen months — and a change of government later — Australia’s Vietnam War was over. Alongside untold Vietnamese, some 521 Australians had died in conflict, including 202 national servicemen.
The end of Australia’s war also saw the wrapping up of a novel and now largely forgotten organisation. The Ex-Services Human Rights Association of Australia was founded in October 1966 by former servicemen and women who “oppose militarism” and “believe that National Service […] should not involve conscription for foreign wars”.
The final issue of the group’s newsletter, Conscience, in February 1972 paid special tribute to Martin Leslie (Les) Waddington, a World War II veteran and leather goods manufacturer, and the group’s “spiritual leader, and greatest workhorse”.
Fifty years since Australia officially began withdrawing from Vietnam, my forthcoming article reflects on how Waddington exemplified an undercurrent of anti-war citizen soldiery in Australia.Continue reading “The forgotten Australian veterans who opposed National Service and the Vietnam War”