The Global Origins of Early Vietnamese Republicanism, Part I

Christopher Goscha
Professor of History, University of Quebec at Montreal

National emblem of the Republic of China, 1912-1928. Yuan Shikai (left) and Sun Yat-sen (right) with flags representing the early Chinese republic.
National emblem of the Republic of China, 1912-1928. Yuan Shikai (left) and Sun Yat-sen (right) with flags representing the early Chinese republic.

Utilizing a global historical approach, Professor Goscha explores the dynamic origins of Vietnamese Republicanism, in part I of this two-part Forum series.

Just as nationalism, liberalism, and republicanism spread across the Atlantic world in the 18th and 19th centuries, underpinning a series of revolutions stretching from Philadelphia to Paris by way of Port au Prince and Bogota, so too did people, their books, papers, and print technology move such powerful ideas across the Indian Ocean into East Asia with similar effect by the turn of the 20th century.[1] This global transfer of ideas, however, did not move in a straight line. Nor did it necessarily arrive through the colonial connection, even though Euro-American imperial states had colonized much of the Afro-Asian world during this period.

The arrival of Republican ideas to Vietnam is a case in point. Continue reading “The Global Origins of Early Vietnamese Republicanism, Part I”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Marc-William Palen

lawrencecamp
A piece of history: This photograph of an armoured Rolls-Royce helped researchers track down a desert camp (pictured) from which Lawrence of Arabia launched guerilla attacks on German-allied Turks.

Ready or not, here is the weekend roundup in imperial and global history:

*It is amazing what still remains to be uncovered at the National Archives. A Bristol University archaeologist has discovered a secret desert camp used by Lawrence of Arabia. It appears to be intact nearly a century later: Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Writing Human Rights into the History of State Socialism

Ned Richardson-Little
Associate Research Fellow, University of Exeter

One of a number of East German postage stamps commemorating International Human Rights Year 1968. The hammer and anvil represent the right to work.
One of a number of East German postage stamps commemorating International Human Rights Year 1968. The hammer and anvil represent the right to work.

The collapse of the Communist Bloc in 1989-1991 is viewed as one of the great triumphs of the human rights movement. But this ignores how socialist elites of the Eastern Bloc viewed themselves: not as the villains in the story of human rights, but as the champions. Continue reading “Writing Human Rights into the History of State Socialism”

Contesting History with Jeremy Black

Cross-posted from Bloomsbury History

9781472519504

We all know that history isn’t just about facts; any historical event can be interpreted in a variety of different ways, and these interpretations can be used intentionally to serve particular interests and agendas – agendas which are often set by the state. A national museum, for example, is not a neutral presentation of that country’s history, but its exhibitions are constructed in order to present that nation’s historical self-image. The Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore – although housed in a building named in honour of Queen Victoria – makes little reference to British imperial rule, instead aiming to reconnect Singapore with its Chinese and Indian cultures of origin. Similarly, Hanoi’s National Museum of Vietnamese History provides a defence of Communism and independence by providing accounts of French imperial cruelty.

These and many other examples from across the globe are discussed in Jeremy Black’s latest book, Contesting History: Narratives of Public History, which we are proud to have published this month. The book provides an authoritative guide to the positive and negative applications of the past in the public arena and what this signifies for the meaning of history more widely. Continue reading “Contesting History with Jeremy Black”

Conference: Trade Unions in the Global South, From Imperial Rule to the Present Day

Gareth Curless

Where: 9am-5.30pm, Friday 13 June 2014, Congress House, London

To mark the important role that trade unions have played in popular protests in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, History & Policy’s Trade Union Forum and the Trades Union Congress will host a one day conference. The conference will reflect on the relationship between trade unions and the state in the Global South, as well as the role of labour movements in popular protests from the end of imperial rule to the present day.

This event is funded by the ESRC. It is free to attend and open to all but space is limited. Spaces will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. To reserve your place please contact Gareth Curless (g.m.curless@exeter.ac.uk), University of Exeter.  Continue reading “Conference: Trade Unions in the Global South, From Imperial Rule to the Present Day”

Atlantic Empires in Arrested Development

Rachel Herrmann
Lecturer in Early Modern American History, University of Southampton

Arrested DevelopementI’m a firm believer in the idea that we need to hold our students to high standards when we teach history. I am also (perhaps somewhat paradoxically) a firm believer in the idea that to get students enthused about meeting those standards, we need to make history approachable.

And so I sometimes pander.

This semester I’m teaching what is essentially a colonial America class called “Accommodation, Violence and Networks in Colonial America.” I’ve included a week on the Atlantic World—no small feat given the fact that one of my colleagues devotes a whole semester to it—and so I had to grapple with reducing the notion of Atlantic empires into something that was easily digestible. To deal with the problem of summarizing the key identifying features of the Spanish, Dutch, French, and English empires in the early modern period, I turned to the delightfully dysfunctional Bluth family.

For the (woefully) uninformed, Arrested Development follows the trials and tribulations of the California-based Bluth family, a once-wealthy clan that’s fallen from grace, and is composed, for the most part, of terrible, selfish, egotistical people. The show aired from 2003 to 2006, garnered a cult following, and enjoyed a long-anticipated revival season on Netflix last year.

I use Arrested Development at the start of my Atlantic World lecture to paint a broad (and admittedly simplistic) picture of how the different Atlantic empires functioned on their own terms and in their interactions with each other. I should point out that this portion of the lecture takes up no more than five or ten out of our forty-five minutes, but I think it’s worth it because my caricatures provide students with a starting point from which they can challenge what I’ve told them about Atlantic history.  Continue reading “Atlantic Empires in Arrested Development”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

"An ingenious and labored anti-Darwinian exercise inspired by The Descent of Man of the same date (1871); also a bit of a temperance tract. Original artwork displaying a miniaturist's skill. But for what purpose? The decorative margin and minute detail suggest lanternslide copy. If the figures had been intended as book illustrations BWH would have drawn them directly on the lithographic stone. The skeleton-on-body-silhouette renderings recall those in Hawkins's Comparative view of the Human and Animal Frame" -- Baird. Darwin - Wallace / B. Waterhouse Hawkins, 1871. Image available via Academy of Natural Sciences.
“An ingenious and labored anti-Darwinian exercise inspired by The Descent of Man of the same date (1871); also a bit of a temperance tract. Original artwork displaying a miniaturist’s skill. But for what purpose? The decorative margin and minute detail suggest lanternslide copy. If the figures had been intended as book illustrations BWH would have drawn them directly on the lithographic stone. The skeleton-on-body-silhouette renderings recall those in Hawkins’s Comparative view of the Human and Animal Frame” — Baird. Darwin – Wallace / B. Waterhouse Hawkins, 1871. Image available via Academy of Natural Sciences.

Marc-William Palen

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

*Historians are busy exploring why the First World War remains so fascinating to school children. Could it be the war’s angst-ridden poetry?

*The Great War isn’t the only conflict stirring up controversy this year. According to the Globe & Mail, The Conservative Harper government has now been warned by bureaucrats that its planned 110th anniversary commemoration of the Boer War should be peripheral at most. According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, civil servants warned:  Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Adam Smith and Empire: A New Talking Empire Podcast

Marc-William Palen

Wealth of NationsWithin the field of imperial history, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) is commonly associated with the anti-imperial economic doctrine that arose in the mid nineteenth century alongside the rise of Free Trade England. This ideology drew inspiration from Smith’s condemnation of the British Empire for being unnecessarily mercantilistic, expensive, and atavistic. Smith’s critique of imperialism came to be known as “Cobdenism”, named after Victorian free trade apostle Richard Cobden, the anti-imperial radical who led the overthrow of England’s protectionist Corn Laws in 1846.

But the longer imperial legacy of the Wealth of Nations is much more . . . complicated. Smith’s work was transformed into an amorphous text regarding the imperial question throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Adam Smith had left behind an ambiguous legacy on the subject of empire: a legacy that left long-term effects upon subsequent British imperial debates.

Continue reading “Adam Smith and Empire: A New Talking Empire Podcast”

Human Rights, Neoliberalism, and 1989

Robert Brier
Research Associate, German Historical Institute, Warsaw
Cross-posted from Humanitarianism & Human Rights

“1989” has become shorthand both for the triumph of human rights over state-socialist dictatorship and the subsequent implementation of a “neoliberal” reform agenda. Yet the coalescence of these two phenomena in Eastern Europe twenty-five years ago is quite surprising once we focus on the prehistory of 1989. Following the crooked paths that led to the annus mirabilis is thus a great opportunity to assess the transformation of human rights discourses during the 1980s.

Round Table Talks, Warsaw, Poland, 1989
Round Table Talks, Warsaw, Poland, 1989

Twenty five years ago, on 6 February 1989, representatives of Poland’s government and of the illegal democratic opposition began negotiations on political and economic reforms. Inaugurating their meetings at a round table that had been crafted specifically for this occasion, they set events in motion that became a major catalyst for the collapse of the “Soviet bloc.” Continue reading “Human Rights, Neoliberalism, and 1989”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Frenchcardgame1
Trading Game: France—Colonies, 1941, O.P.I.M. (Office de publicite et d’impression), Breveté S.G.D.G. Lithograph on linen, 22 7/8 x 32 1/4 in. The Getty Research Institute, 970031.6

Marc-William Palen

From the Getty going free, to card games introducing French children to colonial management, to First World War body armor. Here are the week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Asterix the Gaul – Colonial Freedom Fighter or Neo-Imperialist?

Richard Toye

Asterixcover-asterix_the_gaulWhat might a historian of modern empire uncover within the long-running cartoon book series, Asterix the Gaul? Orientalism, French cultural anxiety about American neo-imperialism, and fears of cultural corruption in the face of the forces of global commercialism, of course.

The new Asterix volume, Asterix and the Picts, is not only the first in the series to be drawn/written without the involvement of either of the original creators, Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo; it has also led reviewers to wonder whether it can be seen as commentary on Scottish nationalism. Continue reading “Asterix the Gaul – Colonial Freedom Fighter or Neo-Imperialist?”

Playing Umpire: America and the World

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman-1Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
Dwight E. Stanford Chair in U.S. Foreign Relations, San Diego State University, & Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Why does international turmoil so often raise the question at home and abroad, “What’s the United States going to do about it?” Why not Mexico, Iran, France, or Switzerland?

Observers of today’s world are confronted by the fact that the U.S. exercises an unusual function as the nation with the greatest—yet, nonetheless, very limited—power to determine outcomes in foreign conflicts. This influence raises important questions. Why does any country play such a role, and who appointed the United States? Is America an exploitative empire that holds other nations in thrall, as many revisionists believe, or a benign hegemon that prevents the world from spiraling into violence and poverty, as realists do? And, are these the only two possible answers? Continue reading “Playing Umpire: America and the World”

Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire

Andrew Thompson

Centre Director Andrew Thompson explains that if globalization is not to silence the past, we need to delve back into its history – its imperial history.

Almost a century before Christopher Columbus 'discovered' the Americas, Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty undertook voyages across the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans. Photo credit: © Chris Hellier/Corbis
Admiral Zheng He. Almost a century before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas, Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty undertook voyages across the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans. Photo credit: © Chris Hellier/Corbis

‘Globalization’ is among the biggest intellectual challenges facing the humanities and the social sciences today. It is a concept that conveys the sense that we are living in an age of transformation, where change is the only constant, nothing can be taken for granted, and no-one knows what the future might bring. But globalization is also much more than that. To borrow the phrase of the historical sociologist, Mike Savage, it is an ‘epoch description’, something that seeks to define for the current generation the very meaning of social change. By thinking of ourselves as part of a globalized world, we are saying something about how over time our identity has changed. We are locating ourselves in time, differentiating ourselves from our predecessors, signalling a break with what went before. Continue reading “Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

greatbooksMarc-William Palen

Searching for your weekend dose of imperial and global history? Here are this week’s recommended reads from the Centre for Imperial & Global History: Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”