1. The Colonial Origins of the Greek Bailout

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

1. The Colonial Origins of the Greek Bailout

not merkel's colony

Jamie Martin
Harvard University
Follow on Twitter @jamiemartin2

When news broke two weeks ago of the harsh terms of a new bailout for Greece, many questioned whether the country still qualified as a sovereign state. “Debt colony,” a term long used by Syriza and its supporters, was suddenly everywhere in the press. Even the Financial Times used the language of empire: “a bailout on the terms set out in Brussels,” as a 13 July editorial put it, “risks turning the relationship with Greece into one akin to that between a colonial overlord and its vassal.”

Suggestions like these have invited historical comparison. One parallel that’s been mentioned is that of Egypt during the late nineteenth century. In 1876, as a heavily indebted Egypt approached bankruptcy, the Khedive Ismail Pasha agreed to the creation of an international commission, staffed by Europeans, with oversight of the Egyptian budget and control over certain sources of public revenue. This arrangement, designed to ensure the timely servicing of foreign debts, opened a new and extended period of intensified European intervention in Egypt – the Caisse de la Dette Publique was not abolished until 1940. [continue reading]

2. Debunking the Civil War Tariff Myth

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

2. Debunking the Civil War Tariff Myth

tornintwo

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

The outbreak of the American Civil War is now more than 150 years past. All the while, the question of what caused the conflict continues to spark disagreement, this despite a longstanding consensus among specialists that slavery – a cultural, political, ideological, and economic institution that permeated (and divided) mid-19th-century American society – was the primary cause of the war. One of the most egregious of the so-called Lost Cause narratives instead suggests that it was not slavery, but a protective tariff that sparked the Civil War.

On 2 March 1861, the Morrill Tariff was signed into law by outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan to protect northern infant industries. A pernicious lie quickly formed around the tariff’s passage, a lie suggesting that somehow this tariff had caused the US Civil War. By ignoring slavery’s central role in precipitating secession and Civil War, this tariff myth has survived in the United States for more than a century and a half – and needs to be debunked once and for all.

In trying to make their case but lacking adequate evidence for the 1860-61 period, “Lost Cause” advocates instead commonly hark back to the previously important role that another protective tariff had played in the 1832 Nullification Crisis. They then (mistakenly) assume the political scenario to have been the same three decades later – that southern secession from 1860-61 was but a replay of the divisive tariff politics of some thirty years before. From this faulty leap of logic, the argument then follows that the Republican Party’s legislative efforts on behalf of the Morrill Tariff from 1860 until its March 1861 passage became the primary reason for southern secession – and thus for causing the Civil War. [continue reading]

3. On Empire and Anachronism

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

3. 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]

4. 12 Digital Research Suggestions for Dissertations on the History of Modern Britain & the British Empire

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

4. 12 Digital Research Suggestions for Dissertations on the History of Modern Britain & the British Empire

Illustrated London News

David Thackeray, Marc Palen, and Richard Toye
University of Exeter
 

As 3rd-year students scramble to finish their dissertations and as 2nd-year students begin formulating topics for their own, it’s worth noting the dramatic expansion in the availability of sources for the study of modern British and British imperial history in recent years.

Many of these sources are free to use. However, it is often hard to keep track of what materials are now available. What follows is a short guide (which is by no means comprehensive) but gives an introduction to some of the most important sources and may be of particular use to students planning dissertations, as well as other researchers. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the ‘comments’ section. [continue reading]

5. What is Global Intellectual History – If It Should Exist At All?

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

5. What is Global Intellectual History – If It Should Exist At All?

Moyn Global-Intellectual-History

Samuel Moyn
Harvard University

Andrew Sartori
New York University

In his bestselling recent novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell provides a vignette of global intellectual history, as he imagines it took place in the last years of the eighteenth century at Dejima, the manmade island in Nagasaki’s harbor and the sole contact point between Japan and “the West” for more than two hundred years.

In Mitchell’s portrait, however, the intended isolation of the country that Dejima is supposed to secure is not working perfectly. The novel begins with the title character’s success in smuggling in a contrabandBible. He has help in doing so, thanks to the connivance of a young Japanese translator, Ogawa, with whom he strikes up a nervous friendship.

When the two first meet, instead of calling de Zoet on his illegal smuggling, the Japanese translator asks him about another book in his chest, “book of Mr. … Adamu Sumissu.” Jacob de Zoet replies: “Adam Smith?” It turns out that he is carrying a Dutch translation of Smith’s 1776 Wealth of Nations, a copy of which Ogawa had borrowed from someone else four years before. But he had had to return it to its owner in the midst of translating it. Now he has a new copy at hand, and can finish the job.

The presence of Smith at the outset of the novel seems right, for it reminds the reader of the history of capitalism that Smith portrayed, one of whose effects was the creation of new global relationships, such as those Mitchell imagines in his depiction of Dutch commerce. [continue reading]

6. Charlie Hebdo’s Anti-Imperialist Roots

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

6. Charlie Hebdo’s Anti-Imperialist Roots

L’Assiette au Beurre, Terre à Galons ("A place to earn stripes"), March 14, 1908.

L’Assiette au Beurre, Terre à Galons (“A place to Earn Stripes”), March 14, 1908.

Daniel Foliard
Assistant Professor, Paris Ouest-Nanterre la Défense University

In a recent interview, George Wolinski (1934-2015), one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists killed in the Paris terrorist attacks on January 7, 2015, had claimed his magazine’s work was the legacy of L’Assiette au Beurre, an innovative satirical weekly published in France between 1901 and 1912.

Both stylistically and politically, the two periodicals, separated by more than a century, could also claim an affiliation with a long French tradition of dissent. Accordingly, although Charlie Hebdo is now known around the globe for its unmediated satire on religions, we should not overlook its position in the longer history of French anti-imperialism.

The 1881 laws on the freedom of the press had opened the golden age of French political caricature, paving the way for Samuel-Sigismond Schwarz to found L’Assiette au Beurre in 1901. The new illustrated weekly was, however, initially a failed commercial venture. [continue reading]

7. Australia & the Fascist Idea of Greater Britain

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate 2015 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

7. Australia & the Fascist Idea of Greater Britain

Oswald Mosley at a BUF parade, 1936.

Oswald Mosley at a BUF parade, 1936.

Evan Smith
Flinders University
Follow on Twitter @Hatfulofhistory

‘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.

Britain formed the metropole of the Empire, but the settler colonies (achieving Dominion status just prior to the inception of the BUF) were also seen as integral to the preservation of the Empire. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa were viewed by the BUF as bastions of the imperial spirit that would help revive Britain at the core of the Empire and create what Mosley described as a ‘Greater Britain’, resurrecting a term that had first appeared in the late Victorian period. [continue reading]