This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

British India

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

From the perils of writing global history, to a global tale from 1623, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

On Empire and Anachronism

anachronismRichard Toye
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @RichardToye

Our free online course Empire: The Controversies of Imperialism has now been running two weeks; between them, the participants have already made thousands of comments, often arguing their respective points of view quite vigorously. One persistent theme of debate is the degree to which it is possible to pass judgements on the actions of people in the past, who were operating on the basis of standards that are different from those held today. This is an important and difficult issue for historians in general, although the contentious topic of ‘Empire’ seems to throw it into particular relief. Everyone can agree that we shouldn’t reach assessments that are anachronistic; it is much harder to reach agreement on what constitutes anachronism. Continue reading “On Empire and Anachronism”

History in the Making: An @ICRC Interview with Andrew Thompson

ICRC Headquarters, Geneva.
ICRC Headquarters, Geneva.

Malcolm Lucard
Cross-posted from Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine

Internal records from the ICRC’s archives concerning the conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s shed light on a decisive era for humanitarian action.

In a small room in the basement of ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, historian Andrew Thompson methodically pours through folders full of documents — typewritten mission reports, confidential telegrams and hand-written letters — never before seen by people outside the ICRC.

“It is a process of discovery,” says Thompson, a professor of history at Exeter University in the United Kingdom. “There is a sense of expectation and anticipation not knowing what is going to be there. For a historian, it’s a bit like opening a birthday present, or like going into a candy shop.”

The ‘candy shop’ in this case is the ICRC archives, where Thompson is exploring 40- to 50-year-old records to be released to the public in January 2015 under the ICRC’s policy of making internal documents public in blocks of ten years once 40 years have passed since the events they describe.

Aside from exciting Thompson’s intellectual curiosity, these records offer a deeper understanding of conflicts going on between 1965 and 1975. In particular, they give insight into an area of great interest to Thompson, who took an early look at the records in order to pursue research on the evolution of international humanitarian law and human rights law as they pertain to the treatment of political detainees in non-international conflicts.

“I see the ICRC archive as hugely important for people thinking and writing about the past and present of humanitarian aid and human rights,” he says. “But it’s also much more than that. It’s an archive that allows for studying conflict in all its different dimensions.”

The archives are a treasure trove for historians as they contain first-hand accounts from delegates on the ground, as well as internal and external correspondence, for every major conflict during the period in question. According to Thompson, they offer a perspective not always found in diplomatic or military archives because in addition to political analysis, they show how conflict affects the lives of ordinary people on the ground. Continue reading “History in the Making: An @ICRC Interview with Andrew Thompson”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Billie-Holiday

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

From the FBI’s hunt for Billie Holiday, to why we need a new European Enlightenment, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Exeter PhD Funding in Imperial and Global History – Early Feb. Deadlines

ExeterSeeking PhD funding in the fields of World, Global, Imperial or Transnational History?

Please consider the following funding opportunities at the University of Exeter:

·       College of Humanities Doctoral Scholarships (up to 12 awards, plus 2 International Scholarships)  

·       ESRC South West Doctoral Training Consortium (up to 20 1+3 and 3 year awards).

·       One Leverhulme ‘1989 after 1989: Rethinking the Fall of State Socialism’ project doctoral award

·       One AHRC Globalism Goes Social project doctoral award

History at the University of Exeter has two research centres in the broad field of world history: the Centre for Imperial and Global History (led by Professor Andrew Thompson), and the Centre for War, State and Society (led by Professor Martin Thomas). Both offer internationally-recognised supervision with geographical coverage from 30 staff across African, Asian (including Chinese), Middle Eastern, North American, Latin American, Imperial, and European history from early-modern to contemporary eras, comprising of one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK. Continue reading “Exeter PhD Funding in Imperial and Global History – Early Feb. Deadlines”

What Were They Fighting For? German Subjectivities in the Second World War

What Were They Fighting For?

German Subjectivities in the Second World War

by

Professor Nicholas Stargardt, University of Oxford

 

Centre for the Study of War, State and Society Annual Lecture,

University of Exeter, 18 March 2015, 5pm, Venue to be confirmed

 

Abstract

The Second World War was a German war like no other. Having started it, the Nazi regime turned the conflict into the most horrific war in European history, resorting to genocidal methods well before building the first gas chambers. Over its course, the Third Reich expended and exhausted all its moral and physical reserves, leading to total defeat in 1945. Yet seventy years on  —  despite whole libraries of books about the war’s origins, course and atrocities — we still do not know what Germans thought they were fighting for and how they experienced and sustained this war until the bitter end.

German Military in 1945. Photo: Getty Images.
German Military in 1945. Photo: Getty Images.

When war broke out in September 1939, it was deeply unpopular in Germany. Yet without the active participation and commitment of the German people, it could not have continued for almost six years. What, then, was the war Germans thought they were fighting? How did the changing course of the conflict — the victories of the Blitzkrieg, the first defeats in the east, the bombing of Germany’s cities — change their views and expectations? And when did Germans first realise that they were fighting a genocidal war?

Drawing on a wealth of first-hand testimony, The German War is the first foray for many decades into how the German people experienced the Second World War.  Told from the perspective of those who lived through it — soldiers, schoolteachers and housewives; Nazis, Christians and Jews — its masterful historical narrative sheds fresh and disturbing light on the beliefs, hopes and fears of a people who embarked on, continued and fought to the end a brutal war of conquest and genocide.

Announcing a New Website: ‘Imagining Markets’

South African Oranges (Empire Marketing Board Poster), Library and Archives Canada.
South African Oranges (Empire Marketing Board Poster), Library and Archives Canada.

Interested in the historical intersection of trade, culture, and empire? A new website, Imaginingmarkets.com, provides information on two AHRC projects which are being hosted by the University of Exeter’s History Department: ‘Imagining Markets: Conceptions of Europe, Empire/Commonwealth and China in Britain’s economic future since 1900’ (AHRC network, 2014-16) established by David Thackeray, Andrew Thompson and Richard Toye, and David Thackeray’s AHRC Research Leadership Fellowship ‘Backing Britain: Imagining a nation’s economic future since 1900’ (2014-15).

Woman Shopping at John Bull and Sons (British Empire Marketing Board, 1928), Library and Archives Canada.
Woman Shopping at John Bull and Sons (British Empire Marketing Board, 1928), Library and Archives Canada.

Both projects are united by an interest in connecting historical and contemporary ways of thinking about Britain’s future global economic orientation, and involve a range of activities staged with project partners from the fields of public policy and heritage. Readers can subscribe to get updates on the projects. There will also be a blog to discuss issues connected with the research themes.