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 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”→
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?
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”.
These six chapters were originally parts of a single film which sought to explore whether, during the nineteenth century, the Empire allowed Britons to transcend their other differences and embrace a shared sense of national identity. (The title of this three part series is Britishness: In Search of a National Identity – you can find part one Fragile Beginnings online) The preceding five chapters have laid the groundwork for the argument advanced in this final section, featuring Bernard Porter, John Mackenzie, Andrew Thompson, and Duncan Bell.
The subject of the film and the position I have taken in it have brought me into the middle of what has been an often quite heated debate. Rather than present a simple introduction here I have tried to sketch out the contours of this disagreement and my response to it. In very reductive terms, on one side of the argument there are historians who say that imperialism was a core ideology providing Britons with a shared worldview and sense of unique mission, and on the other side historians who say that it wasn’t. Continue reading “Ruling the Waves – Episode 6 – ‘An Imperial People?’”→
‘Our world mission is the maintenance and development of the heritage of Empire,’ the leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), Sir Oswald Mosley, declared in the BUF’s journal, Fascist Quarterly, in 1936. Although often overlooked by scholars of British fascism, this pro-imperial sentiment was central to the ideology of the BUF. For the BUF, the maintenance of the British Empire was imperative – key to keeping Britain’s place within the world and ensuring living standards in the domestic sphere. Continue reading “Australia & the Fascist Idea of Greater Britain”→
Reviewed by Richard Batten (University of Exeter) Follow on Twitter @Richard_Batten
Through the early to mid-nineteenth century, the suffering of Aboriginal populations that resulted from violent settler colonization would provide the impetus for some individuals to endeavour to reconcile colonialism with ‘humanitarianism’. The endeavours that represented the project of ‘humane’ colonial governance towards indigenous peoples, like the Aborigines of Australia and the Māori of New Zealand, are the subject of this ambitious and important monograph. Published as part of the Cambridge University Press Critical Perspectives on Empire series, Colonization and the Origins of Humanitarian Governance explores how British colonial actors such as missionaries and governors attempted to reform colonial rule through the integration of ‘humanitarian’ aims into various colonial government initiatives. The authors, Alan Lester and Fae Dussart, suggest that humanitarian governance – the administration and regulation of colonial societies through a range of ‘humane’ approaches – became a key imperative in the mission to spread ‘Civilization’ across the British Empire. Continue reading “Colonization and the Origins of Humanitarian Governance”→
As with our first conference in 2014, we’re particularly keen to have submissions from PhD students and early career researchers but proposals from more established historians are welcome too. A selection of papers from the first conference are scheduled to appear in the Journal of World History in 2016 and we anticipate that our second conference will result in a special issue or edited collection. Continue reading “CFP: Empire and Humanitarianism, 13 and 14 June 2016, The University of Exeter”→
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