Launched in late 2013, the Centre aims to show how much of the world’s history was created by empires, to reposition the histories of those empires in a wider global context, and gain insight into the causes and consequences of globalisation.
It does this through researching topics including the histories of humanitarianism and human rights, law and colonialism, regions in a global context, and the relationship between globalisation’s past and present. Continue reading “Centre In Focus”→
was mainly a response to certain scholars (and some others) who, I felt, had hitherto simplified and exaggerated the impact of ‘imperialism’ on Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, after years in which, except by empire specialists like myself, it had been rather ignored and underplayed. […] the main argument of the book was this: that the ordinary Briton’s relationship to the Empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was complex and ambivalent, less soaked in or affected by imperialism than these other scholars claimed – to the extent that many English people, at any rate, possibly even a majority, were almost entirely ignorant of it for most of the nineteenth century. Continue reading “A Decade of ‘Imperial Absent-Mindedness’: A New Talking Empire Podcast”→
In the first of his two-part Forum essay, Dr. Bat illuminates the distinct colonial and post-colonial history that helps explain current French military policy in Africa (1950s-present).
Today, the French Parliament will vote on the country’s present military engagement in the Central African Républic (CAR). Why? Because it remains a (poorly understood) constitutional requirement that any French military intervention overseas be approved by the National Assembly after every four months. Moreover, even if President Nicholas Sarkozy and his successor, François Hollande, have sought to republicanize France’s wars in Africa – dressing them in the clothes of democratic legitimacy and UN approval – the locations and priorities underpinning those interventions speak to a post-colonial inheritance dating back to the 1950s and the era of ‘Mr. Africa’, Jacques Foccart. Continue reading “Prelude to Intervention: French Wars in Africa, Part I”→
In the early 17th century, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the Dutch East India Company’s governor-general in the Indies, explained that trade and war were inseparably linked: ‘we cannot make war without trade nor trade without war’. The utility of war and other violent methods to secure an advantageous commercial position was an extreme view even by the mercantilist standards of the day, but trade and conflict were commonly connected. About one hundred years later, Montesquieu, the Enlightenment political philosopher, reached the radically different conclusion that trade was an instrument of peace; thus in 1748, he wrote ‘Peace is the natural effect of trade’. Continue reading “Does Trade Promote Peace? An Historical and Global Perspective”→
Google has redesigned its newspaper archive, making it even easier to use for historical research (as noted by Lifehacker). The archive had initially started up in 2008, had a bit of a rocky start, and then was axed in 2011 owing to pressure from newspaper companies.
This revamping of the Google news archive just adds to the seemingly limitless newspaper databases from across the globe that are now available online.
The Guardian recently ran a piece calling for Britons to confront their colonial past by way of now-forgotten empire adventure stories. Professor Richard Toye has done just that, uncovering the imperial side of a stirring adventure tale, The Thirty-Nine Steps(1915).
John Buchan’s 1915 adventure novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, with its dashing hero Richard Hannay, is just a bit of fun – isn’t it? Well, it’s fun all right, but behind it there lays a pretty clear political agenda. Most obviously it’s anti-German, with the plot revolving around a devilish Teutonic plot to steal British military secrets. But there’s also a strong imperial dimension. Continue reading “What can a First World War Adventure Novel Tell us About Empire?”→
What was the role that universal human rights played in the process of decolonization? What links can we identify between both phenomena as they gained real momentum after 1945?
For too long historical research has neglected this issue. Only a few books on the historiography of the human rights idea linked the dissolution of European colonial empires with the debates on universal fundamental rights. Particular mention should be made here of the work by Paul Gordon Lauren (The Evolution of International Human Rights. Visions Seen, Philadelphia 1998) and Brian Simpson (Human Rights and the End of Empire. Britain and Genesis of the European Convention, Oxford 2001), who both addressed for the first time the important connections between human rights discourse and the end of colonial rule. Continue reading “Debating Human Rights and Decolonization”→
Why did imperialist language become so pervasive in Britain, France and elsewhere in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? What rhetorical devices did political and military leaders, administrators, investors and lobbyists use to justify colonial domination before domestic and foreign audiences? And how far did their colonial opponents mobilize a different rhetoric of rights and freedoms to challenge imperialist discourse? These are some of the questions that we hope to address during this two-day conference, which is funded under a three-year Leverhulme Trust research project led by Professors Martin Thomas and Richard Toye. Continue reading “Exeter’s ‘The Rhetoric of Empire Conference’, 22-23 May”→
The Imperial & Global Forum is delighted to introduce a collaborative post from Exeter’s History undergraduate students.
Authors: Jessica Elkington, Hannah Linton, Rachel Smith, William Griffiths, Alice Montague-Johnstone, Leo Springate, William Thomson, Edward Jones, James McCue, Thomas Lambert, Peter Dyson, Gillian Allen, Barnaby Bracher, Katrina Wolfe, Alex Manning, Justin Chan, Adam Collins
Winston Churchill is one of history’s most famous figures. But most people’s image of him is derived from a short, if crucial, period of his long life: his campaign against appeasement in the 1930s and his subsequent leadership of Britain in the Second World War. As History students studying the module ‘Churchill and the British Empire’ at Exeter University, we have discovered that he was a figure of greater complexity than most people realise. Here are the most surprising things we have found out so far. Continue reading “The Surprising Mr. Churchill”→
The result of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise confirms Exeter’s position as one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities. Almost 90% of our research is at internationally recognised levels and every single subject submitted included world-leading (4*) research. When adjusted for the 95% of staff submitted, Exeter ranks among the top 15 in the UK for research out of 159 higher education institutions. The Times Higher Education described Exeter as ‘a rising star among research-intensive institutions’. Continue reading “2 New History Lectureships Available at Exeter”→
In under two decades, authoritarian political systems collapsed across Europe – in the south of the continent in the 1970s, and then in the east between 1989 and 1991. Although much work has been done on these processes in each region, and comparative work carried out on post-authoritarian transitions and memories, there has yet to be any sustained scholarship that examines the ‘entangledness’ of these processes in the context of broader European and global processes of the late Cold War and its aftermath. Taking a longue durée approach, this conference will explore these inter-relationships between the 1960s and the present day. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of state socialism and the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the transition from dictatorship on the Iberian Peninsula and in Greece: an ideal time to consider the relationship between these processes that have been central to modern European history. Continue reading “CFP: Entangled Transitions: Between Eastern and Southern Europe 1960s-2014”→
History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another.
—Max Beerbohm, 1896.
Historians are often charged — sometimes correctly — with precipitously proclaiming a “new” field of study: a field that, upon further investigation, is shown to be remarkably similar to earlier turns in the historiographical timeline. The post-colonial and subaltern “turns” of the 1980s are cases in point, as they, however unwittingly, tended to ignore the prodigious and overlapping work within Area Studies that had appeared in preceding decades. I duly began to wonder if the term “global history” might prove to be yet another illustrative example. Continue reading “Sleuthing the Origins of ‘Global History’”→