In the newest in CIGH’s ‘Talking Empire‘ series, Professor Richard Toye interviews Dr. Henry Knight Lozano about his book California and Hawai’i Bound: U.S. Settler Colonialism and the Pacific West, 1848-1959, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2021.
From the Walter Rodney murder mystery 40 years later to British collaborators in Africa, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.
Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”
Deadline: 5 January 2022
University of Exeter – College of Humanities
Applications are invited for a PhD studentship as part of a Leverhulme funded project examining the role of Parliament in the UK and the settler-colonial ‘British World’ between the 1860s and 1930s, shedding light on the connected debates about democratic governance and political inclusion within a fractious British Empire.
Parliamentary Empire examines the role of Parliament in civic life in the UK and the settler-colonial ‘British World’ between the 1860s and 1930s. By exploring how different groups appealed to values of British parliamentarianism, we shed new light on the connected debates about democratic governance and political inclusion that characterised the emergence of nations within a fractious British Empire.Continue reading “PhD Studentship – Parliamentary Empire: British Democracy and Settler Colonialism, c.1867-1939 History”
On the 22nd November 2003, an electrical power worker from the Chinese province of Henan, Wang Letian, walked around his home city of Zhengzhou wearing a traditional Chinese costume called the Hanfu. Wang intended to promote traditional Chinese culture by generating interest in traditional Chinese garb. At the time, Wang’s actions were unusual, with the Hanfu being largely confined to film sets and tourist attractions. Nevertheless, Wang received significant attention in China, and has often been cited as the originator of the current Hanfu craze sweeping China today.
Wang’s goal of promoting Chinese traditional culture appears to have been fulfilled in recent years, with the costume becoming a mainstay of social media platforms popular with Chinese millennials. The popularity of the costume coincides with a wider discussion over the state of China’s identity, which marks a break from the previous focus on China’s economic development. This has often sought to emphasise the uniqueness of China’s identity as well as presenting China as a civilisation state rather than a nation-state in the Westphalian sense. By delving into China’s past, the rise of the Hanfu movement and the debate over China’s identity thus symbolises the contradictory nature of the legacies of China’s imperial dynasties, most notably the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as the role that these have played in shaping the present Chinese perception of China.Continue reading “Hanfu is More than a Costume: How China’s Contradictory Imperial Legacies are Creating a New Chinese Identity “
Congratulations to CIGH’s Prof. Nandini Chatterjee, who has recently won a prestigious book award from the American Society for Legal History for her book Negotiating Mughal Law: A Family of Landlords Across Three Indian Empires (Cambridge University Press, 2020). The Peter Gonville Stein Book Award is given for the ‘Best book in legal history (written in English) outside the field of US legal history, published during the previous calendar year.’
Negotiating Mughal Law is a wonderful combination of philology, imagination, archive sleuthing, and sharp intelligence. Based on a painstakingly collected set of documents in a few languages from a society that lacked a centralized legal archive, it is a micro-history of a family of landlords in central India over several centuries. Chatterjee provides a rich narrative of law as put into practice in the daily lives of a wide range of people. Her attention to methodology is a model of the care and self-criticism that underlies the very best historical research, and for this reason the book is of great value beyond its specific geographical and temporal context.
You can read the official announcement and list of awards and prizes here.
University of Exeter
Objects hold a special place in the way we look at the past. Objects travel across borders and have lives. Their meanings and values change across time, and decoding these meanings can help us understand our history better. Museums are repositories of relics from the past. They are one of the mediums through which we form tangible links with our history. But objects in museums did not make it there by themselves.
Many of the South Asian objects in UK museums arrived here during the colonial era. Systematic projects of collecting were organised to serve the goals of museums. British imperial officers organised surveys of India’s landscape, monuments, and antiquities and with the collected artefacts, intended to write a history of and for India. While the life trajectories of these colonial officers are well documented, the role of their Indian collaborators and helpers is often omitted. This has to do with both the tendency to look at British officers as heroic figures who helped uncover India’s “hidden” past and the distorted nature of the archive, which itself tends to obscure the role of indigenous players.
We therefore need to rethink the way we look at museums and understand the urgency of decolonising them. As the movement for decolonising museums gains ground, their responsibility in telling inclusive and fuller stories has become clear. As part of this endeavor, museums are undertaking deeper provenance research. They are researching the histories of the objects that they hold, exploring the exact contours of how the collecting process worked on the ground and who were the actors and institutions involved in it. The findings from this research can then help us better make sense of the contested colonial contexts in which objects were acquired by museums during the height of colonialism.Continue reading “Decolonising Collections: Investigating Knowledge Formation Networks in Colonial India”