Exeter’s Centre for Imperial and Global History is once again launching its free online course, which starts on 8 August.
The British Empire was the largest empire ever seen. It ruled over a quarter of the world’s population and paved the way for today’s global economy. But British imperialism isn’t without controversy, and it continues to cause enormous disagreement among historians today. This free online course will help you understand why. Continue reading “Free Course: ‘Empire – the Controversies of British Imperialism’”
University of Chester
On Thursday 23 June 2016 the British electorate voted 51.9% to 48.1% to leave the European Union (EU). On election night the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage declared this to be Britain’s ‘independence day.’ With ‘independence day’ on pro-Brexit lips, US pundits have been quick to connect 2016 with 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. The Federalist’s Robert Tracinski, for example, was among the first ‘to welcome the mother country to our revolution.’ And, in a similar act of transatlantic camaraderie, the Republican magazine National Review has accordingly rebranded the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence as ‘Amerexit.’
Critics have since been quick to point out some of the big historical problems with proclaiming the 23rd June as Britain’s ‘independence day’, including the common association between it and the outbreak of the American Revolution. And of course it’s worth noting that the EU referendum vote and the American Revolution (1775-1783) have obvious differences, not least that in the former the question of independence was settled by the ballot box, whilst in the latter it was decided by the barrel of a gun. Nevertheless, let’s assume for the moment that there are some useful comparisons to be drawn between the American Revolution and Brexit. If so, is 1776 the ideal date for comparison, as many pundits have recently suggested? I would suggest instead that events during the latter years of the American Revolution share far more in common with today. Continue reading “Brexit, the American Revolution, and the Problem with ‘Independence Day’”
From colonial Havana to resurrecting the Japanese Empire, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
From the forgotten Jewish pirates of Jamaica to acknowledging genocide in Namibia, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
Lori Lee Oates
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @LoriLeeOates
In 2015, the print and online Yoga Journal celebrated its 40th anniversary. It currently claims a readership of 2.1 million people and receives more than 5 million online page views per month. Lululemon, the famous retailer of women’s yoga wear, has started opening stores for men. The Maharishi Foundation website reports that it has established Transcendental Meditation Centres in 108 countries across the globe. Some of the best selling books of recent decades have focused on themes and practices traditionally found in Eastern Religion. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now (1997) has been translated into 33 languages and is estimated to have sold 3 million copies. The book is described as a New Age reworking of Zen. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love (2006) spent 187 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List and sent women across the globe running toward the ashrams of India. Clearly, alternative religion is big business in the twenty-first century.
This global mass consumption of alternative religion has long been regarded as a manifestation of the increasing commercialization of, well, everything since the 1980s. It is true that religion, like everything else, has reached new heights of sales in the age of mass marketing. French scholar Frédéric Lenoir has provocatively argued in Les Métamorphoses de Dieu (2004) that secular societies are more religious than at any previous time in history. However, what is less frequently spoken of is the role that imperialism played in the expansion of interest in Eastern religions in the West. Continue reading “How Empires Globalized New Age Religion”