Don’t miss our fast-approaching ‘Postwar Decolonisation and its Impact in Europe’ Conference, to be held next Monday and Tuesday at the University of Exeter (December 2-3, 2013). Continue reading “Reminder: ‘Postwar Decolonisation and its Impact in Europe’ Conference, Dec. 2-3 at the University of Exeter”
We have been tackling some weighty subjects in the Forum this past week. In particular, the pros and cons of global history. A lighter approach to imperial and global history seemed in order. And who better to do so than an alien traveler of time and space like the Doctor?
Last Saturday witnessed the much anticipated 50th anniversary episode of the series. I had thought that my 3D glasses were enough to hide my attendance at its theatrical debut. But the cat, as they say, is out of the bag. It appears that I have failed miserably in keeping my secret Doctor Who obsession, well, a secret.
Today, one of my students sent me a link to a great article in the New Statesman. It explores the liberal contradictions of the intrepid Doctor, much as the Centre’s Professor Richard Toye did with Winston Churchill and empire last week. The author of the New Statesman article, Andrew Harrison, sets the ideologically confusing intergalactic stage thusly: Continue reading “Is Doctor Who an Anti-Imperialist?”
David A. Bell
Lapidus Professor of History, Princeton University
Contributing Editor, The New Republic
Palen calls my essay ‘provocative’ and ‘eloquent’, but also ‘unfair’. I certainly prefer this judgment to ‘balanced, but dull and inarticulate’, but the adjective ‘unfair’ still rankles a little. In particular, Palen charges me with confusing page counts and criticism; with mixing up Atlantic history and global history; and with ‘expect[ing] the impossible’ from the volume that I was reviewing.
Of these charges, it is the third that really gets to the substantive differences between us. Continue reading “Diminishing Returns of the Global Turn”
After last week’s post extolling the seemingly limitless avenues of historical inquiry offered through the study of globalization, it seems only fitting that I should now offer a somewhat contrary one on the limits of globalization.
Sycophantic proponents and adamant critics alike view globalization — the process of speeding up global integration via capital flows, markets, ideas, people, and technology — as an omnipresent and inexorable process. For devout acolytes from Richard Cobden to Thomas Friedman, it appears as a benign process that will one day make the world’s markets so interdependent that war itself will become anachronistic. For its harshest critics, and despite historical evidence and scholarship to the contrary, globalization remains an unstoppable force led by a secretive cabal of powerful multinational corporations hell-bent upon undermining national sovereignty in an endless search for profit. Continue reading “The Limits of Globalization”
The Centre for Imperial and Global History is delighted to announce that registration is open for the fast-approaching ‘Postwar Decolonisation and its Impact in Europe’ Conference, to be held at the University of Exeter, December 2-3, 2013.
The unravelling of European empires was foundational to the making of the modern world. An old imperial order was swept away, and a new age of nation states rapidly replaced it. Whilst decolonisation played a fundamental role in the shaping of post-war world, its repercussions for Europe itself, and its legacies in a host of political, social and cultural spheres, are still relatively little examined.This conference will examine how the global dynamics of decolonisation had an impact not only on the ‘western core’ of the continent, but also in state socialist eastern Europe, and in southern Europe, which have been hitherto little considered in this light. Continue reading “Registration Open for ‘Postwar Decolonisation and Its Impact in Europe’, Exeter, December 2-3 2013”
The Centre for Imperial and Global History is pleased to announce its new ‘Talking Empire’ podcast series. Hosted by Professor Richard Toye, Centre academics are developing a series of podcasts on controversies in global and imperial history, which are available to listen to for free on this page.
With this first installment, Centre Director Andrew Thompson discusses the longstanding debates surrounding the work of Jack Gallagher and Ronald Robinson. In their path-breaking 1953 Economic History Review article, ‘The Imperialism of Free Trade’, Gallagher and Robinson suggested that the so-called ‘New Imperialism’ of the late nineteenth century was not new at all. They argued instead that imperial historians had previously missed Britain’s informal imperial expansion following its adoption of free trade policies c. 1850. The authors expanded further upon their informal imperial findings with Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism (1961).
Listen to the three installments of Andrew Thompson discussing the controversial legacy of Gallagher and Robinson: Continue reading “Talking Empire: The Gallagher-Robinson Controversy”
In the introduction to his new book Churchill and Empire, Lawrence James refers to Winston Churchill’s ‘essentially liberal imperialism’. James does not really explain what he means by this, but his comment is intriguing. Previously, in a Daily Mail article, he decried the ‘hand-wringing and breast-beating’ of modern-day critics of Empire, or, as he describes them, the ‘tribunes of political correctness’. From this, one would not think that he is someone who would in general view ‘liberal’ as a term of praise; yet his use of it in this instance is clearly not intended as a criticism of Churchill. Rather, one deduces, he sees ‘liberal’ in this particular context as a synonym for ‘moderate’ or perhaps ‘humane’. If that is indeed what he means – in other words, that if Churchill was a liberal imperialist then his imperialism must have been benign – the equation is highly problematic. Continue reading “Winston Churchill – Liberal Imperialist?”
It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Imperial & Global Forum, the blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department, University of Exeter. In it, contributors will tackle the controversies of empire and globalization, past and present. So please be sure to follow along, join in the discussion, and give us feedback on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
We are one of the largest UK research groups working on the history of modern empires and their importance for understanding the making of our contemporary world. If you go to our Centre website you will find more details about the range of staff involved, the variety of countries they study, and the work they have recently published. You will also be able to learn more of some of the major collaborative projects that are supported by the Centre, the particular colleagues who are involved in them, and the impact they are having within and beyond the academic world. Continue reading “Welcome to the Imperial & Global Forum”
[Update: Please also read Professor Bell’s response.]
A recent New Republic article by David A. Bell on the limitations of the ‘global turn’ has been making the rounds this month, and deservedly so. Bell’s article reviews Emily Rosenberg’s 2012 edited volume A World Connecting: 1870-1945.  Nestled within it, however, is a much larger critique of the global historiographical shift toward ‘networks’ and ‘globalization’.
Bell’s criticisms are provocative. They are eloquent.
But are they fair? Let’s take a look. Continue reading “In Defense of Global History”
Welcome to the Imperial & Global Forum, the blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department, University of Exeter! Under the directorship of Professor Andrew Thompson, the Centre brings together the strong research expertise of the University’s eminent imperial historians. Continue reading “Coming Soon!”