Debating the History of Humanitarianism

Human-Rights

Andrew Thompson
Director, Centre for Imperial & Global History
University of Exeter

Humanitarianism developed at the intersection of Decolonization, the Cold War, and new & accelerating forms of Globalization. Decolonisation was about much more than the ending of colonial relationships: what was at stake was the dismantling of an entire global order: an old world of imperial states was replaced by a new world of nation states and this ushered in new patterns of cultural, political and economic relations. In the existential struggle that was the Cold War, the control of overseas territory mattered intensely to each side’s sense of security and power.

Capitalist West and socialist East competed to convince nearly and newly independent African and Asian states to adopt their models of humanitarian and development aid. As a result it became more difficult to distinguish aid given to further state interests from that given according to recipient needs. Globalisation meanwhile expanded the range of voices to which humanitarians had to listen while radically differentiating them. Aid agencies intensified their use of the international media, yet were exposed to greater pressures from their donor states and publics.

Together these 3 geopolitical forces − Decolonization, the Cold War, & Globalization − raised far-reaching questions about the relationship of international organizations and NGOs to state power; the basis upon which humanitarian needs were identified and prioritized; and the interaction of humanitarians with non-state armed groups. Continue reading “Debating the History of Humanitarianism”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

An Asafo flag made by the Fante artists of Africa’s Gold Coast.
An Asafo flag made by the Fante artists of Africa’s Gold Coast.

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

From imperial mass murder to globalizing Garveyism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Soviet Internationalism in Latin America

SovietInternationalism

Tobias Rupprecht
History Department, University of Exeter

‘This is a great conservative system,’ reported the visitor following his trip to Moscow, ‘there is no lack of order, no anarchy, no lack of discipline! Everyone respects the authorities!’ While the liberal leaders of the materialist and soulless West allegedly no longer took up a stance against decadent art, degenerate music, and immoral sexual libertarianism, the leaders in the Kremlin, he claimed, heroically defended traditional family values and a ‘healthy patriotism’.

The tone of this argument will sound rather familiar to a contemporary observer of Russia’s reactionary domestic policies and its regression to Cold War style foreign intervention. A swashbuckling Vladimir Putin has attracted the tacit, and sometimes open, admiration from many Europeans who no longer feel represented by what they see as the liberal mainstream in politics and media. Continue reading “Soviet Internationalism in Latin America”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

A shaded line drawing of a large stone building, people, dog and horse-drawn carriage.
The Melbourne Athenaeum, Melbourne’s first Mechanics Institute, in 1855. (State Library of NSW: ST Gill)

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

From the colonial context of the Paris attacks to radical Scotland in Australia, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

First Steps Towards the Ph.D.

bookshelf

Earlier this month, experts from the University of Exeter shared their guidance and answered questions about how to develop a successful Ph.D. application in the Humanities. The video (below) is now available for viewing by anyone considering postgraduate study in the Humanities.

Themes covered in this video 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?

Continue reading “First Steps Towards the Ph.D.”

Making Thatcher’s World – A Talk by Martin Farr – This Wednesday at the University of Exeter

margret-thatcher-hong

We say socialism tends to stand together throughout the world”, Margaret Thatcher said on American TV in 1977. “We must have what I call the freer way of life likewise standing together”. Margaret Thatcher’s World derives from the fact that no democratic leader has provoked so great an international reaction, and no political brand – defined in many often contradictory ways, but a recognisable brand nonetheless – has had such international salience as Thatcherism, both at the time and subsequently.

It is striking in public discourse in countries across the world, how often the person and the ‘ism’ is used and misused, revered and abused. Frequently the spectre (or specter) of Thatcherism is invoked; the term and the person has become an epithet of approbation or opprobrium. The project is an international history and a reception study which includes such aspects as policy networks and processes, rhetoric, gender, and ideology. So it was that Johannesburg’s Business Day described “the global implementation of Thatcherism”, Tehran’s Shargh felt “the majority of the countries of the world have put the Thatcherism movement in their agenda”, Toronto’s Financial Post that “Thatcher’s legacy lives far and wide”, and Santiago’s El Mercuria wrote of “the woman who transformed the UK and shocked the world”. The application of the term goes beyond Britain, and even the West: President Ershad of Bangladesh has referred to “third world Thatcherism”, and the Times of India to “Thatcherism of the Tigris”. As she said in Moscow in 1987, “[I]t is universally true, you know, Thatcherism”.

Dr. Martin Farr will be presenting his paper ‘Making Thatcher’s World’ this Wednesday at the Centre for Imperial & Global History’s seminar series. Continue reading “Making Thatcher’s World – A Talk by Martin Farr – This Wednesday at the University of Exeter”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

GERMAN ZEPPELIN LOST ABOVE FRENCH TERRITORY, 1917, BY ALBERT MOREAU CREDIT: ECPAD/ FRANCE/ ALBERT MOREAU. 'The Great War as Never Seen Before', Telegraph.
GERMAN ZEPPELIN LOST ABOVE FRENCH TERRITORY, 1917, BY ALBERT MOREAU CREDIT: ECPAD/ FRANCE/ ALBERT MOREAU. From ‘The Great War as Never Seen Before‘, Telegraph.

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

From the imperialism of time zones to remembering the Alamo in Japan, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”