This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

St Jerome in His Study, painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in 1480, shows signs of global trade (Picture: Public domain via Wikipedia)

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

From uncovering clues of Renaissance-era globalization to how an anti-totalitarian militant discovered ultranationalism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Rethinking Empire and Ethnic Diversity in East-Central Europe

Benno Gammerl. Subjects, Citizens and Others: Administering Ethnic Heterogeneity in the British and Habsburg Empires, 1867-1918, trans by J.W. Neuheiser, Berghahn, Oxford 2018. 92£/978-1-78533-709-3.

Reviewed by George Giannakopoulos (Durham University)

In the summer of 1906, a young Scottish historian embarked on an eight-week journey across the Hungarian end of the Habsburg Empire. Travelling from Vienna to Bratislava and Budapest, and from Cluj to Zagreb and Fiume, Robert W. Seton-Watson prided himself for being among the first foreign observers interested in the national and ethnic diversity in the region. Seton-Watson’s sojourn launched a lasting crusade against the forced assimilation of non-Hungarian populations living under Hungarian jurisdiction which has come to be known as the policies of “Magyarization”. His writings fractured the Victorian edifice of Hungarian liberalism and laid the foundation for the academic study of the Slavonic world in Britain under the auspices of the School of Slavonic Studies in London.

Reacting to Seton-Watson’s polemic, Hungarian liberals drew parallels between Hungary and Britain. They argued that Hungary’s “Magyarization” policy did not differ from similar processes of national homogenisation enforced across the British Empire. Both imperial states, the argument run, included culturally and ethnically heterogeneous populations and made space for cultural autonomy to the extent that freedoms offered did not fracture the unity of the state, the raison d’état. Such an assertion irked the Scottish historian. In his view, Britain and Austria-Hungary were not on the same plane; the long history of liberty and toleration in the British Isles did not measure up to the Magyar policies of “tyranny” and forced assimilation. There was an insurmountable geographical and mental barrier separating an empire of liberty and toleration from a monarchy which had partly fallen under the spell of oriental despotism. Continue reading “Rethinking Empire and Ethnic Diversity in East-Central Europe”

Ideologies and U.S. Foreign Policy International History Conference (May 31-June 1 @OregonState)

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

Imperial & Global Forum readers on the U.S. West Coast and Pacific North West might be interested in the following upcoming conference that I am very much looking forward to – the “Ideologies and U.S. Foreign Policy” International History Conference.

Co-organized by Christopher McKnight Nichols, Danielle Holtz, and David Milne, the conference  at Oregon State University as a project is intended to bring international scholars together to investigate the profound ideas that have led to the production of U.S. foreign policies. The co-organizers are motivated by the notion that contemporary ideas about the sources and mechanisms of power need to be reconsidered with the lessons of history in mind, particularly regarding the relationship between domestic and international policy.

The events related to the conference are free and open to the public (with on-site registration) and will include public forums, scholarly panels, and a keynote address by James Lindsay (Council on Foreign Affairs), all confronting crucial issues in U.S. foreign policy, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Contributors from around the world, representing a diversity of approaches to the study of foreign policy, will explore the central ideas and ideologies as well as people and groups that have shaped U.S. involvement with the world. Panelists will engage with large public audiences in Corvallis and Portland over the course of several days. C-SPAN and History News Network also are expected to be covering the conference.

The program is as follows: Continue reading “Ideologies and U.S. Foreign Policy International History Conference (May 31-June 1 @OregonState)”

Pride, Shame, and White Fragility in Dutch Colonial History

Dutch Slavery Monument in Amsterdam.

Paul Doolan
University of Konstanz

The 17th-century Dutch Republic made significant contributions to our understanding of world geography, the biological and physical sciences, mathematics, economics, international law, and the visual arts. Yet this Golden Age had a dark underbelly – the Dutch participation in colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade. In the estimate of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, of the 12,521,337 Africans transported, 554,336 were brought to the Americas on Dutch ships.

Activist historians, many working from outside academia, persist in pushing the hidden history of Dutch slavery to the fore. Ewald Vanvugt’s Roofstaat (2016) is an 800-page indictment of the Dutch “Robber State.” In White Innocence (2016), Gloria Wekker accuses Dutch academia of turning away from the sordid episodes of Dutch history. Anousha Nzume argues that the majority white population long for an unproblematic history that is “gezellig” or cosy, but as soon as they are confronted with the fact of race they fall back on a defensive position of white fragility. Rosmarijn Hoefte, newly appointed Professor of the History of Suriname from 1873, admits that the Dutch lag far behind their international colleagues in the study of colonialism and slavery. Some historical figures formerly considered national heroes have now been exposed as leaders in the slave trade. Recent controversies have focused on the renaming of streets and the removal of statues of these fallen heroes. Continue reading “Pride, Shame, and White Fragility in Dutch Colonial History”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Rainbow flags at the Flag Day ‘Raise the Rainbow’ march, June 14, 2017, New York City, honoring LGBT rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, who died in March 2017. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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

From Guantanamo’s darkest secret to the night the US bombed a Chinese embassy, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Making Society Work Again: Workfare in Transatlantic Context Since the Sixties

Professor Bernhard Rieger (University of Leiden) will be at the University of Exeter on a Visiting International Academic Fellowship between 13 and 18 May. As part of his visit, he has kindly offered to give a lecture entitled ‘Making Society Work Again: Workfare in Transatlantic Context Since the Sixties.’ 

Drinks and nibbles will be provided. All welcome.

When/where: Tuesday 14 May from 16.30 in Laver 218 (Streatham Campus).

Abstract: Social policies to combat poverty and unemployment in Western societies have changed fundamentally since the 1960s. While policy makers had once regarded the poor and jobless as victims of structural disadvantages beyond an individual’s control, a swelling chorus argued from the 1980s on that material deprivation and rising unemployment were caused by “cultures of poverty” whose norms and values predisposed benefit recipients against regular work, thereby inflating welfare costs. In response, politicians have replaced firm entitlements to benefit payments with “workfare” regimes that link temporary welfare assistance to expectations of a speedy (re-)integration into the world of work. Focussing on the United States, Britain and Germany, this lecture assesses the rise of workfare concepts since the Sixties as well as their social and individual impact.

How Pinochet turned Chile into a globally admired model of authoritarian capitalism

Anti-Soviet, authoritarian, pro-market. The self-professed ‘father of the Chilean model’ as official guest in Deng Xiaoping’s China.

Tobias Rupprecht
University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @Tobepastpresent

Augusto Pinochet was an avid global traveller throughout the 1990s. A potent symbol of Cold War anti-Soviet authoritarianism and market radicalism, the former military ruler of Chile usually made a great stir during his trips across Latin America, East Asia, Southern Africa, continental Europe, and to the United Kingdom. In a recent article in Global Society, I assess the public reactions, political debates, and legal consequences that Pinochet’s appearances caused. Scholars of Pinochet’s international perception have for the most part focussed on his criminal reputation among human rights activists and the victims of military rule in Chile. Yet, many pro-market reformers and anti-Communists in countries transitioning from socialism to capitalism did not see Pinochet as a criminal dictator of the Cold War. Margaret Thatcher also had a soft spot for him. For them, his economically successful ‘Chilean model’ had become a source of legitimacy for an authoritarian path of modernisation. Continue reading “How Pinochet turned Chile into a globally admired model of authoritarian capitalism”