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.

Rewriting the War, Japanese Right Attacks a Newspaper

Martin Fackler
New York Times

SAPPORO, Japan — Takashi Uemura was 33 when he wrote the article that would make his career. Then an investigative reporter for The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second-largest newspaper, he examined whether the Imperial Army had forced women to work in military brothels during World War II. His report, under the headline “Remembering Still Brings Tears,” was one of the first to tell the story of a former “comfort woman” from Korea. Fast-forward a quarter century, and that article has made Mr. Uemura, now 56 and retired from journalism, a target of Japan’s political right. Tabloids brand him a traitor for disseminating “Korean lies” that they say were part of a smear campaign aimed at settling old scores with Japan. Threats of violence, Mr. Uemura says, have cost him one university teaching job and could soon rob him of a second. Ultranationalists have even gone after his children, posting Internet messages urging people to drive his teenage daughter to suicide.

The threats are part of a broad, vitriolic assault by the right-wing news media and politicians here on The Asahi, which has long been the newspaper that Japanese conservatives love to hate. The battle is also the most recent salvo in a long-raging dispute over Japan’s culpability for its wartime behavior that has flared under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s right-leaning government. [continue reading]

Athens 1944: Britain’s Dirty Secret

Ed Vulliamy and Helena Smith

Even now, at 86, when Patríkios “laughs at and with myself that I have reached such an age”, the poet can remember, scene-for-scene, shot for shot, what happened in the central square of Greek political life on the morning of 3 December 1944. This was the day, those 70 years ago this week, when the British army, still at war with Germany, opened fire upon – and gave locals who had collaborated with the Nazis the guns to fire upon – a civilian crowd demonstrating in support of the partisans with whom Britain had been allied for three years. The crowd carried Greek, American, British and Soviet flags, and chanted: “Viva Churchill, Viva Roosevelt, Viva Stalin’” in endorsement of the wartime alliance.

Twenty-eight civilians, mostly young boys and girls, were killed and hundreds injured. “We had all thought it would be a demonstration like any other,” Patríkios recalls. “Business as usual. Nobody expected a bloodbath.” Britain’s logic was brutal and perfidious: Prime minister Winston Churchill considered the influence of the Communist Party within the resistance movement he had backed throughout the war – the National Liberation Front, EAM – to have grown stronger than he had calculated, sufficient to jeopardise his plan to return the Greek king to power and keep Communism at bay. [continue reading]

Is Globalization the New Paradigm for History?

Lynn Hunt
History News Network

Globalization is not new as a phenomenon but the word itself took hold only recently. The Oxford English Dictionary records a first use in English in 1930 (in a different context, moreover), and a Google n-gram of “globalization” shows that usage soared suddenly in the 1990s.

Historians followed rather than led the way. A search of journals in the subject area “History” on Project Muse yields no articles employing the term “globalization” in the 1980s, 32 in the 1990s, and more than 1000 in the 2000s. Since the first four years of the 2010s have produced a yearly average of 162, the pace is still quickening.

Why is globalization “hot” now and what does it portend for the study of history? Globalization – defined most succinctly as the interconnection and interdependence of places far distant from each other — did not abruptly attract attention in the 1990s because it only started then or took a fundamentally different shape at that moment. What did happen was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Globalization filled the ideological vacuum created by the end of the Cold War division between capitalism and communism. [continue reading]

World War One Through Arab Eyes: Episode 3

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