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”