1. The Secret History Behind Algeria-Germany World Cup Match

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

1. The Secret History Behind Today’s Algeria-Germany World Cup Match

The Algerian team in 1982
The Algerian team in 1982

Mathilde von Bülow
History Department, University of Glasgow

Today, Germany’s Mannschaft will face Algeria’s Fennecs at Porto Alegre, after both teams made it through the group stage of the FIFA World Cup. Though it has yet to be played, the match is already being hailed as an historic, even epic, event. Why? Because it represents the first time the Algerian squad has progressed to the final sixteen at a World Cup. Its larger symbolism, however, is rooted in a longstanding Algerian resistance to French colonialism, which underpinned the secret history of Algerian-German football relations. [continue reading]

2. Dutch Imperial Past Returns to Haunt the Netherlands

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

2. Dutch Imperial Past Returns to Haunt the Netherlands

Paul Doolan
University of Zurich and Zurich International School

Photos in De Volkskrant July, 10 2012
Photos in De Volkskrant, 10 July 2012.

In July 2012 a Dutch national newspaper, de Volkskrant, published two photos on its front page showing Dutch soldiers brutally shooting and killing unarmed victims in a mass grave. The images were shocking to a nation that prides itself as being upright and humanitarian. Never mind that the photos were nearly 70 years old. Found in a rubbish tip, they were, in fact, the first ever photos to be published of Dutch soldiers killing Indonesians during a war of decolonization that is still euphemistically referred to as a “Police Action.”

Why did it take so long for such images to reach the public? [continue reading]

US-Cuba Embargo Goes Beyond the Cold War

embargo cuba

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

Cross-posted from History Today Magazine

President Obama’s decision to reopen the US embassy in Havana and to begin easing commercial and travel restrictions continues to be regarded by supporters as the highpoint of Obama’s foreign policy agenda to date. But the move has its fair share of detractors, too. To understand the predominantly Republican opposition to trade liberalization with Cuba, we must look beyond the Cold War. We must look further back into America’s imperial past.

More Than a Cold War Hangover

The Democratic leadership has explained Obama’s sizeable shift in US policy toward Cuba. ‘We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests’, Obama stated. ‘Neither the American nor the Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.’ Nancy Pelosi similarly noted that ‘we must acknowledge our policy towards Cuba is a relic of a bygone era that weakens our leadership in the Americas and has not advanced freedom and prosperity in Cuba.’

Obama and Pelosi should look much farther back than the 1961 Cuban Embargo. The unequal US-Cuban power relationship stretches back to the turn of the 20th century.

Americans may have largely forgotten the first 60 years of US interventions in Cuban affairs – from the late 19th century to the mid-20th – but Cuban memories are longer. When Fidel Castro took power in 1959, his justification for doing so was not in stark cold-war anti-capitalistic terms. Rather, he harkened back to an earlier era of US-Cuban relations and to Cuba’s right to international freedom of trade. In a January 1959 speech, he warned that American diminution of Cuban sovereignty, stretching back to the late 19th century, would no longer be tolerated, and in front of the United Nations in 1960, Castro denounced American economic nationalist policies toward Cuba, declaring that it was an inalienable right that Cuba be allowed to freely ‘sell what it produces’ and to see its exports increase: ‘Only egotistical interests can oppose the universal interest in trade and commercial exchange.’ So when the Eisenhower administration showed itself indisposed toward normalizing US-Cuban relations, Castro turned instead to the other major geopolitical player, the Soviet Union, ‘to sell our products’.

In January 1961, stemming in part from the Cuban-Soviet trade agreement, the United States put in place the now infamous trade embargo against Cuba and severed diplomatic relations. The embargo has since stunted Cuban political and economic growth, and has accordingly served as an easy scapegoat for Fidel and his brother Raúl by allowing them to blame the United States for any and all economic woes befalling Cuba.

Even a cursory look at US trade policies toward other communist states shows how the US embargo against Cuba was – and remains – far more than a Cold War hangover. Continue reading “US-Cuba Embargo Goes Beyond the Cold War”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Image courtesy of Matt Roth, the Chronicle Review.
Image courtesy of Matt Roth, the Chronicle Review.

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From the return of grand narratives to how four Caribbean nations ended the Latin American embargo against Cuba, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

3. Virginity Testing: Racism, Sexism, and British Immigration Control

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

3. Virginity Testing: Racism, Sexism, and British Immigration Control

A Victorian-era vaginal speculum.
A Victorian-era vaginal speculum.

Evan Smith and Marinella Marmo
Flinders University

How racist and sexist attitudes formed in the Victorian era resulted in the harsh and discriminatory treatment of women by the immigration control system in the 1960s and 1970s.

In February 1979, The Guardian reported that a number of women had been given gynaecological examinations by immigration control staff in the UK and at British High Commissions in South Asia, in a practice colloquially known as ‘virginity testing’. These tests were predominantly performed on South Asian women seeking to enter the UK on fiancée visas, which were not subject to waiting lists under the Immigration Act 1971. But while these rules allowed fiancées to enter without much paperwork, British immigration officials were also highly suspicious that these visas were being abused, feeding off a wider belief that many South Asian migrants were coming to Britain under false pretences. [continue reading]

4. In Defense of Global History

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

4. In Defense of Global History

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

worldconnectingphoto

[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. [1] 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]

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Anti-war demonstrators mock Rice, Cheney and Bush on 3rd anniversary of Iraq invasion. Justin Sullivan, AFP, Getty Images.
Anti-war demonstrators mock Rice, Cheney and Bush on 3rd anniversary of Iraq invasion. Justin Sullivan, AFP, Getty Images.

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From one of the 20th century’s most unusual books about empire, to how the neocons led the US to war in Iraq, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

CFP: Progress, Change and Development: Past, Present and Future

Joanna Warson
History Department, University of Portsmouth

An international conference, to be held at University of Portsmouth, 4- 6 June 2015, with the generous support of the Centre for European and International Studies Research, the Society for the Study of French History and the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France

The aim of this interdisciplinary conference will be to bring some of the generation who were involved in attempts to bring about change in the 1960s and 1970s together with researchers, theorists, practitioners, activists from the younger generations today. It will examine and debate how progress and development were conceptualised, practised and imagined during the periods of national liberation struggles, of decolonisation and its aftermath, of political and social upheaval and change. It will analyse successes and failures on all levels and explore new ways of thinking that are being developed at the present time, particularly those that break with the prevailing consensus. Continue reading “CFP: Progress, Change and Development: Past, Present and Future”

5. The Black Hole of Apartheid History

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

5. The Black Hole of Apartheid History

Jamie Miller
Einaudi Center, Cornell University

Why historians should study the regime, not just its opponents

Anti-Apartheid posterLast week’s death of Nelson Mandela prompted outpourings of both admiration and introspection across the globe. Public figures scrambled to portray themselves as long-time supporters of the anti-apartheid cause — even where the historical record of their organisation’s relationship with Mandela undercut the credibility of such posturing (the British Tories readily come to mind). Yet amid the panegyrics, there was plenty of consideration of Mandela’s complex legacy. When Tea Party favourite Ted Cruz declared common cause with Mandela, a supporter wrote on his Facebook page: “Tell the truth Ted!!! Who are you??!! Obama?? Don’t rewrite history to try to get people to like you!!! Educate them!! Mandela was a murderer, terrorist, and a Communist!!!! Can we even trust you to be honest now??!!” A more nuanced analysis appeared in an incisive piece in Foreign Affairs. Historian Ryan Irwin traced Mandela’s elusive legacy to his willingness to embody a pluralist and inclusive vision of the anti-apartheid movement, rather than imposing his own ideological litmus test for would-be allies—be they liberals, pan-Africans, union leaders, or communists.

And yet one thing was conspicuous for its absence over the last week. There has been no effort to describe with any similar specificity what Mandela had defined his life against: the apartheid regime itself. [1] [continue reading]

 

Rethinking Children’s Experiences of War: African Child Soldiers in the Second World War

child soldiers

Child soldiers in Africa are often assumed to be a new phenomenon, linked to the spread of so-called ‘new wars’ and ‘new barbarism’ in the civil wars which swept across the continent in the 1990-2000s. The defining images of the child soldier in today’s humanitarian-inflected discourse are those of the ragged young rebel boy in flip flops with an AK-47 in downtown Monrovia, or the kidnapped Acholi children seized from their families by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. New research, however, is beginning to challenge this assumption, and the idea that child soldiers are always either simply ‘victims’ or ‘perpetrators’.

There is in fact a much longer and deeper history of child soldiering in Africa than has previously been acknowledged. Our seminar groups have been exploring this history by analysing evidence for African children’s recruitment into British forces in the Second World War, looking in particular at the memoirs of former child soldiers who fought in Egypt, Burma and India. Although these memoirs need to be treated carefully, as they are adult recollections of children’s experiences, they reveal striking differences between contemporary and historical accounts of children’s experiences of war. Continue reading “Rethinking Children’s Experiences of War: African Child Soldiers in the Second World War”

6. Covering Up the Dark Side of Decolonisation

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

6. Covering Up the Dark Side of Decolonisation

Gareth Curless
H
istory Department, University of Exeter

Historians of empire have long suspected that documents from the colonies were transferred back to Britain during the last days of imperial rule, only never to enter into the public domain. It was no small surprise therefore when in April 2011 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), under pressure from a high court judge, admitted that it had a secret archive of nearly 9,000 files from 37 colonies. Perhaps the biggest surprise from the ruling was how easy it was for the FCO to keep these documents hidden from historians for so long.

The FCO claims that it was simply unaware that these files existed. Historians, however, are sceptical of this claim. As David Anderson points out, it is easy for an archive to misplace one document or one file but it is harder to lose what amounts in the case of the ‘migrated’ colonial archive to over 100 linear feet of files. [1] Indeed, the subsequent ‘discovery’ of a further 1.2 million Foreign Office files held at the same site has only served to further undermine the FCO’s claim that it had misplaced or forgotten about the migrated archives. [continue reading]

Call for Applications: Global Humanitarianism Research Academy

Global Humanitarianism

International Research Academy on the History of Global Humanitarianism

Academy Leaders:  

Fabian Klose (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)

Johannes Paulmann (Leibniz Institute of European History Mainz)

Andrew Thompson (University of Exeter)

In co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva) and with support by the German Historical Institute London.

Venues:  

  • Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz
  • Archives of the International Committee of Red Cross, Geneva

Date:                          13-24 July 2015

Deadline:                   31 December 2014

Information on:       

http://hhr.hypotheses.org/ and https://imperialglobalexeter.com/

The international Global Humanitarianism | Research Academy (GHRA) offers research training to advanced PhD candidates and early postdocs. It combines academic sessions at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz and the Imperial and Global History Centre at the University of Exeter with archival sessions at the Archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. The Research Academy addresses early career researchers who are working in the related fields of humanitarianism, international humanitarian law, peace and conflict studies as well as human rights covering the period from the 18th to the 20th century. It supports scholarship on the ideas and practices of humanitarianism in the context of international, imperial and global history thus advancing our understanding of global governance in humanitarian crises of the present. Continue reading “Call for Applications: Global Humanitarianism Research Academy”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Indian Army troops tour Acropolis, Athens, 1944. NAM. 1990-08-65-211. Courtesy of National Army Museum.
Indian Army troops tour Acropolis, Athens, 1944. NAM. 1990-08-65-211. Courtesy of National Army Museum.

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From Japan’s rightwing war on history, to the First World War through Arab eyes, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

7. Allende, the Third World, and Neoliberal Imperialism

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

7. Allende, the Third World, and Neoliberal Imperialism

Chris Dietrich
Assistant Professor, Fordham University
Follow on Twitter @C_R_W_Dietrich

allende“Allende was assassinated for nationalizing the . . . wealth of Chilean subsoil,” Pablo Neruda wrote on September 14, 1973. Neruda was lamenting the overthrow and death of his friend, Chilean President Salvador Allende, a week before he himself succumbed to cancer.  “From the salt-peter deserts, the underwater coal mines, and the terrible heights where copper is extracted through inhuman work by the hands of my people, a liberating movement of great magnitude arose,” he continued.  “This movement led a man named Salvador Allende to the presidency of Chile, to undertake reforms and measures of justice that could not be postponed, to rescue our national wealth from foreign clutches.”  Unfortunately, Allende’s flirtation with economic nationalization ran up against the country’s multinational business interests, particularly those that had support from the U.S. government. His socialist reforms were also ill timed; the U.S. government’s ideological view towards the global economy tended towards the Manichean.

So what was the American role in Allende’s overthrow? [continue reading]

Exeter Postdoc Receives Fritz Stern Prize

Ned picCongratulations to Dr. Ned Richardson-Little on being awarded the German Historical Institute’s Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize for “Between Dictatorship and Dissent: Ideology, Legitimacy and Human Rights in East Germany, 1945-1990” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013). Dr. Richardson-Little is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Exeter. Continue reading “Exeter Postdoc Receives Fritz Stern Prize”