White supremacists are on the march, but the KKK’s Invisible Empire is history

Klan newspaper of the 1970s.

Kristofer Allerfeldt
University of Exeter

When Donald Trump repeatedly equated the far-right activists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia with the anti-fascist counter-protesters, the media’s reaction was swift and clear. The next covers of both the New Yorker and The Economist featured cartoons of Trump and a Ku Klux Klan hood. In one, the president guides a ship of state with a sail shaped like a hood; in the other, he shouts into a megaphone designed to look like the infamous white headpiece.

To many commentators, the Klan costume is now the perfect visual sleight with which to decry Trump’s cack-handed false equivalence. After all, hoods and burning crosses are the most potent icons of American white supremacy, an easy shorthand for racism and bigotry. But despite the scenes of extrovert white supremacists on the march with burning torches in Charlottesville, something important has changed: today, there is essentially no such thing as “the Klan”. Continue reading “White supremacists are on the march, but the KKK’s Invisible Empire is history”

The Geopolitics of the American Revolution

War

Jeremy Black
University of Exeter

Cross-posted from the American Review of Books, Blogs, and Bull

The image is clear, the message obvious. Across a sun-kissed meadow, dappled with shade, lines of British soldiers, resplendent in red, move slowly forward, while brave American Patriots crouch behind trees and stone walls ready to blast these idiots to pieces. Frequently repeated on page and screen, the image has one central message: one side, the American, represented the future in warfare, and one side, the American, was bound to prevail. Thus, the war is readily located in both political and military terms. In each, it apparently represents the triumph of modernity and the start of a new age: of democracy and popular warfare. The linkage of military service and political rights therefore proved a potent contribution. Before these popular, national forces, the ancien régime, the old order, with its mercenaries, professionals, and, at sea, unmotivated conscripts, was bound to crumble, and its troops were doomed to lose. Thus, the political location of the struggle, in terms of the defining struggle for freedom, apparently helps locate the conflict as the start of modern warfare, while, considering the war in the latter light, helps fix our understanding of the political dimension. Definition in terms of modernity and modernization also explains success, as most people assume that the future is bound to prevail over the past.

In making the war an apparently foregone conclusion, this approach has several misleading consequences. First, it allows most historians of the period to devote insufficient attention to the fighting and, instead, to focus on traditional (constitution-framing) and modish (gender et al) topics, neglecting the central point about the importance of war in American history: no victory, no independence, no constitution, no newish society. Second, making the British defeat inevitable gravely underrates the Patriot (not American, as not all Americans fought the British) achievement. Third, making British defeat inevitable removes the sense of uncertainty in which contemporaries made choices. Continue reading “The Geopolitics of the American Revolution”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Tuskegee Airmen and P-47. San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives

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

From “global” Boston to who’s to blame for partition, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Marriage by Force?: Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa

Rhian Keyse
History Department, University of Exeter

Book Review: Marriage by Force?: Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa by Annie Bunting, Benjamin N. Lawrance, and Richard L. Roberts (eds.)

Cross-posted from Africa at LSE

Rhian Keyse recommends this book as essential reading for scholars and practitioners engaging in work to analyse and intervene in gender-based violence on the African continent and elsewhere.

Forced marriage in sub-Saharan Africa is a source of much international debate, especially with recent legal and policy attention to the role of such practices in conflict situations. Well-reported instances such as the abduction of the ‘Chibok girls’ from their school in north-eastern Nigeria in 2014have prompted considerable attention from the popular media and policy advocates alike. Yet, as Annie Bunting, Benjamin Lawrance and Richard Roberts argue in the introduction to Marriage by Force?, ‘the spectacular hides the mundane’, and popular debates tend to oversimplify the complex range of practices referred to as ‘forced marriage’ (p.2). Based on a 2013 conference at the Rochester Institute of Technology, this book brings together anthropologists, legal scholars, historians, and practitioners, to begin to correct these reductive common narratives. Continue reading “Marriage by Force?: Contestation over Consent and Coercion in Africa”

Call for Applications: Postdoctoral Research Associate

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Associate

Job reference: P57933

Date posted: 16/08/2017

Application closing date: 14/09/2017

Location: Exeter

Salary: The starting salary will be from GBP 28,936 within the Grade E band (GBP 26,495 – GBP 33,518), depending on qualifications and experience.PackageGenerous holiday allowances, flexible working, pension scheme and relocation package (if applicable).

Job category/type: Academic

Job description

College of Humanities

This part time post is available from 1st November 2017 on a fixed term basis for 1 year.

The post
The College wishes to recruit a Postdoctoral Research Associate to support the work of Dr. Rebecca Williams. This part time (60% FTE) Academy of Medical Sciences funded post is available from 1st November 2017 to 31st October 2018. The successful applicant will work on the project ‘Population Control and the Emergency in India: The Shah Commission Regained.’ Continue reading “Call for Applications: Postdoctoral Research Associate”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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Beirut air connections, 1950s. French Foreign Ministry Archives, La Courneuve

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

From James Baldwin’s Istanbul to the co-dependency of empires, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

No dogs, no Indians: 70 years after partition, the legacy of British colonialism endures

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Gajendra Singh, University of Exeter

The 70th anniversary of the end of Britain’s Empire in India and the birth of the post-colonial states of India and Pakistan have led to a renewed interest in the portrayal of this distant and under-explored past in British arts and the media.

It does not always make for good history. In the stories told on film, radio and television – from the film Viceroy’s House, to BBC One’s My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947 and Radio 4’s Partition Voices – complexity and context are downplayed in favour of “British” stories of colonialism, anti-colonial movements and partition violence.

Signs like this could be found all over colonial India.
Gautam Trivedi, CC BY-SA

History is to be communicated through genealogies of the great and the good – of news correspondents, movie directors and radio presenters introducing the audience to their unknown and often unremarkable forebears. The social histories touched upon are never fully communicable because of the desire to avoid reflecting upon the wider political and cultural contexts in which these individuals lived and breathed. Continue reading “No dogs, no Indians: 70 years after partition, the legacy of British colonialism endures”