Centre In Focus

With pleasure, we see that the Centre for Imperial & Global History has been made the In Focus Feature story by the University’s Research & KT (@UofE_Research).

Cross-posted from In Focus

Centre in focus

Centre for Imperial and Global History

Understanding how the modern world was shaped by its past is a goal of the University of Exeter’s Centre for Imperial and Global History (CIGH).

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”

A Decade of ‘Imperial Absent-Mindedness’: A New Talking Empire Podcast

porter absentminded imperialistsRichard Toye

In 2004, Bernard Porter published The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society and Culture in Britain. It immediately became a controversial work. Porter later reflected that the book:

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.[1] Continue reading “A Decade of ‘Imperial Absent-Mindedness’: A New Talking Empire Podcast”

Prelude to Intervention: French Wars in Africa, Part I

Map: "French geopolitics in Africa and Foccart's legacy" (1960-1991), from Bat's article in Afrique Contemporaine.
Map: “French geopolitics in Africa and Foccart’s legacy” (1960-1991), from Bat’s article in Afrique Contemporaine.

Jean-Pierre Bat
Research Associate, Centre for War, State and Society
Author of Le syndrome Foccart (2012)

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”

Does Trade Promote Peace? An Historical and Global Perspective

Global History of Trade and ConflictLucia Coppolaro and Francine McKenzie
Editors of A Global History of Trade and Conflict Since 1500 (Palgrave, 2013)

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’.[1] 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”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial and Global History

ScottishpoundMarc-William Palen

Here are some of the Centre’s top reads for the week:

*For those of you who might have somehow missed Nicholas Kristof’s trolling of the ivory tower in the New York Times (‘Professors, We Need You!’), he took academics to task for not engaging enough with the public. Needless to say, it set off a (predictable) firestorm, with responses, among others, Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial and Global History”

Google Redesigns Historical Newspaper Archive

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.

google newspapers

This revamping of the Google news archive just adds to the seemingly limitless newspaper databases from across the globe that are now available online.

What can a First World War Adventure Novel Tell us About Empire?

buchanjoetext9639stp10Richard Toye

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?”