This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley

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

From walking the streets of 16th-century Seville to when China woke up to Wham! Here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Sonny Ramphal’s Global Life

Ramphal3

Stuart Mole
Mr. Mole is a PhD Student at the University of Exeter. He was Special Assistant to the Secretary-General (1984-1990), Director of the Secretary-General’s Office (1990-2000), and Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society (2000-2009).

Nowadays, Sir Shridath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal – lawyer and international diplomat – is well settled into retirement, though still a giant figure in his native Caribbean and still able to stir the memories of older generations who remember his boundless activism on the world stage.

From 1975 to 1990 he was the longest-serving Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, and for six of those years I was lucky enough to be his Special Assistant. It was an exhilarating time, now given new immediacy by the recent publication of his memoir Glimpses of a Global Life (2014).

This weighty and enthralling record demonstrates a contribution to international affairs which was multi-faceted and never less than exceptional. He served on a string of international commissions, including Brandt, on development and the North-South divide; Bruntland, pioneering the notion of sustainable development; and Palme, on peace and international security. There were other issues where his intellectual leadership and courage stood out. He was among the first to warn Africa and the world of HIV/AIDS – and among the first to speak of sea-level rise and climate change, many decades before such talk became common currency.

But perhaps he is best remembered for his titanic struggle against racism in Southern Africa – in the eventual vanquishing of white minority rule in Rhodesia and, more than a decade later, in helping bring to an end apartheid in South Africa. Continue reading “Sonny Ramphal’s Global Life”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Sand mining boats work illegally on the Thane River near Nagla Bunder Village in Maharashtra, India, March 20, 2013. Photo by Adam Ferguson for WIRED
Sand mining boats work illegally on the Thane River near Nagla Bunder Village in Maharashtra, India, March 20, 2013. Photo by Adam Ferguson for WIRED

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

From the global war for sand to Russia’s Scramble for Africa, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”