From the forgotten Jewish pirates of Jamaica to acknowledging genocide in Namibia, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
Lori Lee Oates
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @LoriLeeOates
In 2015, the print and online Yoga Journal celebrated its 40th anniversary. It currently claims a readership of 2.1 million people and receives more than 5 million online page views per month. Lululemon, the famous retailer of women’s yoga wear, has started opening stores for men. The Maharishi Foundation website reports that it has established Transcendental Meditation Centres in 108 countries across the globe. Some of the best selling books of recent decades have focused on themes and practices traditionally found in Eastern Religion. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now (1997) has been translated into 33 languages and is estimated to have sold 3 million copies. The book is described as a New Age reworking of Zen. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love (2006) spent 187 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List and sent women across the globe running toward the ashrams of India. Clearly, alternative religion is big business in the twenty-first century.
This global mass consumption of alternative religion has long been regarded as a manifestation of the increasing commercialization of, well, everything since the 1980s. It is true that religion, like everything else, has reached new heights of sales in the age of mass marketing. French scholar Frédéric Lenoir has provocatively argued in Les Métamorphoses de Dieu (2004) that secular societies are more religious than at any previous time in history. However, what is less frequently spoken of is the role that imperialism played in the expansion of interest in Eastern religions in the West. Continue reading “How Empires Globalized New Age Religion”
From historicizing Britain’s post-Referendum depression to digitizing thousands of Afghan periodicals, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
The post-Second-World-War liberal economic order has never looked more uncertain. Over the past few months, the long-dormant forces of protectionism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia have been reawakened. Free trade is under attack, whether from Donald Trump’s protectionist presidential campaign or from the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Extreme nationalism is on the rise, not only in the US and the UK, but also in continental Europe and Asia. Trump climbed the GOP nomination ladder promising to put “America First,” resurrecting the isolationist mantra of the 1940s. The white supremacist, pro-apartheid killer of UK Labour MP Jo Cox was heard shouting “Put Britain First” as he stabbed and shot the 41-year-old anti-Brexit MP to death. Across the globe, foreigners have become the common target of racist hate crimes and extremist violence. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, as are Islamophobic attacks. Nowadays the cosmopolitan ideal – a global citizenry – appears to be more myth than reality.
It’s a difficult time to be an optimist. It doesn’t help that history is very nearly repeating itself. The Brexit referendum has hammered home how historical memory is far shorter and inaccurate than we might have feared. For example, nationalistic pro-Brexit Britons marked the centenary of the bloody Battle of the Somme this past weekend, either unaware or uncaring of the irony that the world war that wrought the same bloody battle arose largely because of extreme European nationalism, economic autarky, and disunity.
Granted, the current global crisis has many aspects that are unique to the 21st century. But there also many striking parallels between the situation today and the struggles that occurred during the global economic depressions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (These periods even had their fair share of international terrorism.) Now more than ever we need to be revisiting these earlier controversies over globalization and international conflict in order to find historical precedents, parallels, and lessons – so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
It would seem that the editors of the Financial Times agree. Continue reading “New @ExeterCIGH Book Featured in Financial Times”
The GHRA received again a huge amount of applications from an extremely talented group of scholars from more than sixteen different countries around the world. The selection committee considered each proposal very carefully and has selected these participants for the GHRA 2016: