The Victorians caused the meat eating crisis the world faces today – but they might help us solve it

File 20190107 32136 1hirv8o.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Guitar photographer/

Paul Young, University of Exeter

Increasing consumption of meat rich diets throughout the world in the 21st century raises pressing concerns about human health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Too much mass-produced meat is bad for us, bad for the livestock we eat, and bad for the planet on which we live.

If we want to understand how the world arrived at this point, as well as how we might change it for the better, we should look back to the Victorian period, which laid the foundations for modern globalised meat production and consumption.

Advice on serving meat from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861.
Wellcome Collection, CC BY-SA

Concerns today about what has become known as the “global meat complex” focus on the technologically driven overproduction and consumption of livestock. There’s a recognition in particular that “the middle classes around the world eat too much meat”, as a 2014 Friends of the Earth report put it. But the root of this problem can be traced to 19th-century Britain, when global meat markets emerged as a revolutionary way of dealing with a mid-Victorian “meat famine”. Continue reading “The Victorians caused the meat eating crisis the world faces today – but they might help us solve it”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Brutal legacy: Friends and family carry the coffin of Jakelin Caal Maquín, who died in US Border Patrol custody, San Antonio Secortez, Guatemala, December 2018. (Reuters / Carlos Barria)

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

From the malign incompetence of the British ruling class to revisiting the H-word, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

The public but mysterious death of Diery Fall – A Talk by Prof. James McDougall

An event of Exeter’s Centre for the Study of War, State and Society seminar on the theme of violence, law and honour in French Senegal that might be of interest to readers of the Forum. Professor James McDougall (Trinity College, Oxford) is to speak to the title, ‘The public but mysterious death of Diery Fall: Violence, law, and honour in French Senegal, 1904’.

Date 30 January 2019
Time 14:00 to 16:00
Place Forum Seminar Room 01


In April 1904, Henry Chautemps, an indigenous affairs officer and district administrator, was murdered in his office in the town of Thiès, near Dakar. Chautemps was the son of the politician and former colonial minister Emile Chautemps (his brother Camille would later become prime minister). This connection made his killing a minor sensation in Senegal and in France, where “the Chautemps affair” was discussed in newspapers and the instigators of “the Thiès insurrection” were pictured on postcards. The “affair” led to the final act in the long story of the abolition of slavery in Senegal. But another death, one that ended the manhunt for Chautemps’ assassins, tells us much more about what was going on in this corner of France’s African empire. Jeeri Joor Ndella Fall (Diery Fall), the Senegalese noble whose retainer killed Chautemps, whom Chautemps had tried to imprison for enslavement, and who was held responsible for the “insurrection”, remains a heroic figure in Senegalese oral tradition.

This paper, part of a larger ongoing book project, considers the public but mysterious death of Diery Fall — was he killed, or did he commit suicide? — as a microhistory to examine the themes of slavery, status, honour, masculinity, law, and violence that were being acted out and reshaped in this period.

Further details can be found here.

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Market of Eminou Square and New Mosque Yeni Cami, with store signs in Ottoman Turkish, Armenian, Greek and French, 1884–1900, Sébah & Joaillier. (Pierre de Gigord Collection of Photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. The Getty Research Institute, 96.R.14. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program).

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

From the myth of Brexit as imperial nostalgia to digitizing the Ottoman Empire, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Call for papers: Conceptualising statehood in the age of Brexit

Conceptualising statehood in the age of Brexit

Ex Historia’s afternoon conference

28 March 2019

Exeter’s postgraduate history journal, Ex Historia, are hosting an afternoon interdisciplinary PGR conference at the University of Exeter. The conference aims to explore how the history of states and empires can help us understand the current Brexit phenomenon. We welcome proposals for 10 minute papers with a flexible interpretation of the below themes. We invite papers from PGR students across university institutions and departments.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

• Conceptualising statehood throughout history

• The construction and dissolution of state and empires

• National identity and the rise of nation states

• The variable nature of statehood

• The history of Britain-European relations

The event aims to promote interdisciplinary discussions, develop the skills and knowledge of PGR students, and provide an enriched understanding of how we can learn from history, connecting academia with current international affairs. The keynote speaker will be Dr Robert Saunders, Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at Queen Mary, University of London. He has published widely on British politics and Brexit; his most recent book is titled Yes to Europe!: The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain. Furthermore, he has provided commentary and interviews on Brexit for BBC News, CNN and NPR. Please submit a 300 word abstract and a short biography to by 15 February.

Call for papers: Development and Securitisation, and (Counter)-Insurgency

THE MALAYAN EMERGENCY 1948-1960 (K 14435) A member of the Malayan Home Guard mans a check point on the edge of a town. Such check points allowed the authorities to search vehicles and intercept food and supplies being smuggled out to the communist terrorists. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Development and Securitisation, and (Counter)-Insurgency

Joint research workshop:

Understanding Insurgencies network and The worlds of (under)development: processes and legacies of the Portuguese colonial empire in a comparative perspective (1945-1975)

Lisbon, Portugal, 14-15 March 2019

Call for Papers

Proposals for papers are invited from members of the Understanding Insurgencies network and others for a two-day research workshop exploring the connections between development initiatives and counter-insurgent efforts to restore, impose, or otherwise establish forms of social control.

Enmeshed in rhetoric of poverty reduction and enhanced social opportunity, colonial development is increasingly viewed by scholars more sceptically: less as evidence of imperial goodwill than as an instrument of social and geo-political control in the face of mounting anti-colonial opposition. Sometimes described as integral to colonial claims to modernization, development policies could be highly coercive. At one level, technical aid and financial support was expected to diminish the appeal of anti-colonial alternatives, thereby stabilizing imperial order. At another, more tangible level, the instruments of development were often directives requiring forced relocation, the abandonment of customary practices, or the fulfillment of obligations that rendered individuals legible to – and controllable by – colonial authority. Arguments over development thus encapsulated the tension intrinsic to colonial authority: limited interventionism and purported respect for local ‘tradition’ or the pursuit of heightened social control characteristic of development projects. Continue reading “Call for papers: Development and Securitisation, and (Counter)-Insurgency”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

A prince and attendants visiting a noble yogini at an Ashram. Murshidabad sub-style, c1765. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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

From the first women of philosophy to how to think about empire, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

These ‘Persuasive Maps’ Want You to Believe

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

A good omen for the new year? It’s a pleasure to see that our post from late last year exploring a wonderful new digital map collection at Cornell Library was recently featured by Mimi Kirk over at the Atlantic‘s City Lab. Here’s a preview, in case you missed it:

When PJ Mode began to purchase old maps in the 1980s, he set out to amass a typical collection of world maps. But along the way, his attention turned to unusual maps that dealers weren’t sure how to categorize—those that attempted to persuade rather than convey geographic information.

“Most collectors looked down their noses at these maps because they didn’t technically consider them maps,” Mode says. “But they were fun and they were inexpensive, and over the years I became more interested in them than the old world maps.”

The interest has culminated in a collection of more than 800 “persuasive maps,” as they are now called, which can be found in digital form through Cornell University’s library. Mode has sorted them into themes, from imperialism to religion to slavery, many with meticulous notes about their history and meaning. One of the oldest, from a 1506 Italian manuscript, gives an overview of hell, while more recent acquisitions include a facetious 2012 New Yorker cover of the Second Avenue subway line.

An overview of hell, as seen in a 1506 Italian manuscript. (Courtesy of Cornell University—PJ Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography)

Marc-William Palen, a University of Exeter history professor and author of The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade, recently came across the collection. “I got lost in it for days,” he says. Palen, who specializes in British and American imperialism, was particularly taken with an 1888 map depicting the trade policy platforms of the year’s presidential candidates, Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland and Republican Benjamin Harrison. While Cleveland and his party supported free trade, the Republicans’ platform was deeply protectionist.

Continue reading “These ‘Persuasive Maps’ Want You to Believe”

“There is no Cold War”: global networks in polio vaccine research

Dora Vargha
University of Exeter

When not portrayed as a heroic struggle for the betterment of mankind, polio vaccine development has mostly been told as a story of bitter rivalry between Salk and Sabin. It has also been recounted as a particular “American Story”, with the March of Dimes, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis with the occasional mention of the Sabin trials in the Soviet Union. Historical narratives of polio have rarely crossed national borders, even though polio is undisputedly seen as a global health issue today.

But if we step outside of the national boundaries and shift our perspective from an American view, another story of polio unfolds. It reveals that polio as a global health issue is not a recent phenomenon, but one that reaches back to the late 1940s and early 1950s. It sheds light on a global network of scientists and public health officials, who set in motion global vaccine trials in the 1950s and 60s. Against a backdrop of Cold War tensions and the remnants of the colonial world, the personal networks of researchers intertwined with the emergence of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the development of live poliovirus vaccines. The international agency capitalized on the network of scientists to become a coordinating, validating and standardizing entity, while researchers used the WHO to establish further ties, get access to cutting-edge technology, or to free vaccines in public health emergencies. Continue reading ““There is no Cold War”: global networks in polio vaccine research”