The organizing committee for the Harvard Graduate Student Conference on International History (Con-IH) invites graduate students to submit proposals for its sixteenth annual conference. This year’s theme is the economic dimension in international and global history. The conference will take place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Thursday March 10 & Friday March 11, 2016.
Financial, economic and political-economy issues have played a fundamental role in world development and continue to do so. They involve multiple agents besides the nation state; they prompt refined policy analysis; and they challenge historians to turn to the broadest range of sources and demand interdisciplinary analysis. Con-IH 16 seeks to discuss cutting-edge studies that take up the dimensions of economics in international, regional, and global historical study, for any era from Antiquity to the present, and proceeding outward from any world region.
Historians – filmmakers, too – should always be careful about sweeping all particulars into a grand overarching narrative. Attitudes to race are a case in point. They are always complex, at both an individual and a societal level, but there does seem to be evidence from the historical record that over the course of the nineteenth century there is what we might describe as a hardening of opinions over questions of race.
At just over 10 minutes long, this episode cannot do justice to the complexity of the subject or the tremendous amount of research on the subject. In this introduction, I wanted to raise some points that hadn’t been properly addressed in the film or had only been touched on briefly. For that reason you may want watch it first and then read what I have written below. Continue reading “Ruling the Waves – Episode 5 – ‘The White Man’s Burden’”→
Greece’s potential financial downfall and semi-colonial economic status monopolized the news this summer. Much ink has been spilled on the apocalyptic consequences the crisis might yet hold for European Union finances and for the global monetary system. However, much less is known of a similar situation that happened more than a hundred years before in Uruguay, the effects of which would also reverberate across the Atlantic to shake the very foundations of the global financial world. Continue reading “How Uruguay Helped Spark a Global Financial Crisis in 1890”→
Communications technologies have played a sizable role in the shaping of political communities – national and otherwise. Not only had the invention of the telegraph brought about an immediacy in communication with far flung parts of the globe, this so-called collapse of space and time had also – in some minds – opened up the possibility for the creation of a new trans-national British state. By the second half of the nineteenth century, individuals within Britain’s political elite had begun to try to come to terms with the Empire as some kind of conceptual whole.
These technological developments were accompanied by a more general shifting of attitudes towards Britain’s settler colonies. Whereas in the first half of the century these lands had been seen as places for criminals, the disgraced or destitute, from the 1850s and 60s they increasingly came to be seen in a more positive light, as extensions of a clearly superior British civilisation or even as better versions of a tired and degenerate motherland.
This second view of the settlement colonies – as places of improvement and transformation – captured the imaginations of those on both left and right. To socialists the development of democratic ideals in the southern hemisphere had the potential to renew Britain’s hierarchical and profoundly unequal political system. To conservatives the Empire could act as a safety value for industrial discontent and associated radicalism – emigration could transform an urban underclass into property owning settlers. Continue reading “Ruling the Waves – Episode 4 – ‘Greater Britain’”→
Are you thinking of beginning a postgraduate research career, but uncertain of how to begin? On 11 November at 16.00 GMT experts from the University of Exeter will be sharing their guidance and answering your questions about how to develop a successful Ph.D. application in the Humanities.
Themes to be covered include:
How do I know if a Ph.D. is for me? What are the qualities required and what career paths can it lead to?
What is distinctive about a UK Ph.D. in contrast with postgraduate study in other countries, and how does the supervision system operate?
What are the keys to a successful research proposal, and how do expectations differ across disciplines?
How can I identify a university with a strong research culture, and how should I go about locating and contacting prospective supervisors?
Once I have embarked on a Ph.D., what kinds of training and career guidance can I expect to receive?
On Sunday, October 25th, Tanzania goes to the polls. This year’s parliamentary and presidential elections appear to be the most closely contested since multiparty democracy returned to the country in 1992. President Jakaya Kikwete will stand down after finishing the second of two five year terms in office. Kikwete’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi – ‘Party of the Revolution’, or CCM – now faces unprecedented competition from an increasingly self-confident opposition coalition. Much of the campaign has consisted of wars-of-words and the making of extravagant promises which any winner would find difficult keeping. Scrape beneath the mudslinging, however, and some central issues emerge. Among them is the question of Zanzibar – a problem rooted in the years of decolonisation in East Africa.
On 12 January 1964, the government of Zanzibar was overthrown in a violent revolution. The island archipelago, which lay a short distance off the coast of mainland Tanganyika, had become independent from Britain just a month beforehand. The ruling Sultan was forced into exile and a new regime under the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) took power. Zanzibar’s position at the centre of Indian Ocean trading networks had created a concentrated cosmopolitanism on the islands – a melting pot of competing identities and interests, which spilled over into bloodshed. In the aftermath of the revolution, thousands of Zanzibaris were killed in a wave of violence grounded in long-standing ethnoracial tensions on the islands.
Seen from beyond Zanzibar’s shores, however, the prevailing winds in 1964 were not the monsoon breeze of the spice trade, but the icier fronts of the Cold War. As Jonathon Glassman has shown, during the final years of colonial rule, known locally the zama za siasa (‘time of politics’), Zanzibari politics became superheated with the language of superpower rivalry, the American neoimperialist threat, and the revolutionary dictums of Marxism. Though the revolution was not a communist seizure of power, it was given this veneer by the presence in the new regime of far-left politicians with connections to Beijing and Moscow. Afflicted by Cold War paranoia, Britain, the United States, and other Western states delayed recognising the new ASP government headed by Abeid Karume, fearing the emergence of a ‘Cuba in Africa’. This vacuum was exploited by China, the Soviet Union, and East Germany, which showered Zanzibar with aid and entrenched their influence on the islands. Continue reading “Zanzibar’s Past, Tanzania’s Future: From the 1964 Revolution to the 2015 Elections”→
Featuring Andrew Thompson, Bernard Porter, and Stephen Howe, this film focuses on the curious absence of Empire – or what might be called an imperial perspective – in mid-Victorian Britain. The first part explores other powerful ideas of Britain that compete with and at times overshadow the idea of Britain as an imperial nation. The second examines the extent to which these national ideas – imperial or otherwise – reverberated with the wider population.
Following on from – and inspired by – Hume’s History of England, nineteenth-century historians set great store by the country’s domestic progress. The central British story was a political narrative; its main characters those great men who had been at the heart of the nation’s affairs. The violence and ongoing instability unleashed by the revolution in France – in my opinion – also played a part in strengthening this tradition. The British political system, now newly reformed, had, it seemed, managed to steer a steady course between the extremes of tyrannical monarchy and anarchic democracy. Continue reading “Ruling the Waves – Episode 3 – ‘The Workshop of The World’”→
The Centre for Imperial and Global History offers internationally-recognised supervision with geographical coverage from 30 staff across African, Asian (including Chinese), Middle Eastern, North American, Latin American, European, Imperial, and Global history from early-modern to contemporary eras. We have strong inter-disciplinary links with colleagues across the humanities and social sciences at Exeter, particularly with the Centre for War, State and Society and the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. The Centre has particular research interests in:
The title for this film was adapted from a chapter title in Bernard Porter’s Absent Minded Imperialists (as you may know Prof. Porter’s book was – and still is – the subject of quite considerable debate, and I will return to this in a later section). Following Prof. Porter’s lead, I have in this chapter examined the relationship of different social groups to empire – and how their socio-economic status back home shaped their interaction with empire.
Class, a word out of favour with today’s sociologists, although a broad term, is still a useful categorisation from which to explore the British relationship to Empire. Attitudes formed within a certain social milieu at home were very often carried outward into empire and had considerable influence over how individuals interpreted this new space and their place within it.
But I would also want to stress, that although it might be a powerful factor in shaping them, social class didn’t automatically define or limit attitudes towards empire. People from the within the same social group could have conflicting attitudes towards the spread of capitalism, technology, or even the Christian faith. When Britons came into contact with Empire there was no simple uniformity of imperial experience.
Did the settler on the Canadian prairies share the same worldview as the opium trader, or the plantation owner, or the shipping magnate? What about settlers who came to the cities looking not for land but for work? What about the factory worker whose mill processed Indian cotton? Were they motivated by the same things? Did they share the same ideology or set of principles? Continue reading “Ruling the Waves – Episode 2 – ‘Imperialists and Others’”→
Jeremi Suri University of Texas at Austin email@example.com
Contemporary foreign policy is faster and more destructive than ever before.
It is dominated by high technology weapons, non-traditional soldiers, vast movements of money, and targeted transmissions of images and ideas. For more than a decade, experts have debated the relative influence of “hard” and “soft” power, but in reality the actions of the most powerful international actors have become more forceful than ever before since the Second World War. With the United States fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Russians invading Crimea, China building islands in international waters, and the Islamic State terrorizing occupied territories, it is hard to deny that muscle-flexing is the main medium of political communication in the world today.
Unlike in the Cold War, when the bipolar relations between the United States and the Soviet Union enforced self-limiting rules for international conduct, today the law of the jungle is the guiding principle of globalization. The strong feel free to take what they can. They fear that if they do not act forcefully, someone else will seize what is most valuable in a hyper-competitive international system. Our world has fewer big wars, but we are still always at war. Continue reading “War and Diplomacy in an Age of Extremes”→
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