This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

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

From racism and the history of international relations to how UK propaganda leaflets inspired the massacre of Indonesian communists, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

Racism and the history of international relations

Amitav Acharya, Lucian Ashworth, Tomohito Baji and Jasmine Gani
International Affairs

The January special issue of International Affairs explores the role of race and imperialism in International Relations. In this blogpost, contributors from the special issue outline some of the key ways in which racism has impacted on the history of international relations both within and beyond the academic discipline of IR. Contributors outline the role of race and imperialism in the formation of postwar international order, their erasure from Anglo-American IR’s founding myths, legacies in western policy responses to the Middle East, and ambivalent impact on the formation IR as a discipline in Japan.

How did racism and colonialism influence the formation of postwar international order?

Amitav Acharya: First, we should consider the legacy of racist ideas developed by European and white American societies, leaders and philosophers during the ‘rise of the West’. They viewed non-whites as inferior and a threat to progress and developed racist norms for organizing international order. [continue reading]

Exeter Chiefs branding change ‘bold’ and ‘courageous’ says National Congress of American Indians

Brent Pilnick
BBC Sport

The two-time Premiership winners will drop their current imagery from July. It came after pressure that it was disrespectful to Native Americans. “There are definitely positive impacts to a decision that demonstrates courage and demonstrates bold corporate action,” Fawn Sharp told BBC Sport. “It puts Exeter in a space that it might not otherwise have been able to occupy, in a spotlight that it might not otherwise have even known or seen and have new friends, new allies and new supporters.” Exeter’s new brand will see the club keep their Chiefs name and instead use imagery from the Celtic Iron Age Dumnonii Tribe, who historians believe occupied Cornwall, Devon and parts of Somerset for what the club describes as “many hundreds of years before the Roman occupation from 43 AD”.

As well as a Native American on their badge, Exeter also have a totem pole in their reception area and places such as the ‘Wigwam Bar’ and ‘Campfire Grill’ in their Sandy Park ground. Exeter estimate it will cost the club about £500,000 to change all their branding, but Sharp says the decision was the right one considering the effect the incorrect use of Native American imagery has on indigenous people. “It’s long proven that it has a devastating psychological and social impact to our community,” she said. [continue reading]

Why Is Serbia So Reluctant to Remember the Holocaust?

Julie Brill

“Do you know how to get to Anne Frank’s house?” my father asked the cab driver. “Everyone knows, including the Germans,” he told us. I was in Amsterdam for a few days with my daughter and my father, a child Holocaust survivor from Belgrade. We were heading to Serbia to visit family, and to see together what was left of the life he remembered from before the war. We’d stopped over in the Netherlands for a few days and joined the line of visitors from around the globe to visit the Anne Frank House.

Anne was murdered over 75 years ago, but the public fascination with her endures, an ongoing commemoration of her life and death, in Bergen Belsen at the age of 15. Last week, a new theory about who betrayed her family’s hiding place debuted. The attic where she hid from the Nazis for two years is one of the top tourist attractions in Amsterdam. [continue reading]

National Security and Climate Change: Behind the U.S. Pursuit of Military Exemptions to the Kyoto Protocol

Burkely Hermann
National Security Archive

Pentagon demands for military exemptions during the 1997 Kyoto climate negotiations posed a substantial challenge for the Clinton administration both internally and with American allies, according to a collection of declassified internal papers posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive. The Defense Department proposal created rifts with other federal agencies and American negotiators in Kyoto had to wrestle to convince other countries to agree to exempt specific military operations from emissions requirements. Still, some governments willingly agreed with the idea and openly supported it. Ultimately, the Pentagon’s basic wishes were included as part of the Kyoto accord.

The records in today’s posting primarily focus on the perspectives of U.S. negotiators and officials, but also include the views of members of Congress and others who were critical of the Kyoto Protocol because they wanted even larger carve-outs for military operations. These documents have particular relevance as the Biden administration advances its climate change policy and the Pentagon commits to climate adaptation measures. [continue reading]

UK’s propaganda leaflets inspired 1960s massacre of Indonesian communists

Paul Lashmar, Nicholas Gilby, and James Oliver

Shocking new details have emerged of Britain’s role in one of the most brutal massacres of the postwar 20th century. Last year the Observer revealed how British officials secretly deployed black propaganda in the 1960s to incite prominent Indonesians to “cut out” the “communist cancer”. It is estimated that at least 500,000 people linked to the Indonesia communist party (PKI) were eliminated between 1965 and 1966.

Documents newly released in the National Archives show how propaganda specialists from the Foreign Office sent hundreds of inflammatory pamphlets to leading anti-communists in Indonesia, inciting them to kill the foreign minister Dr Subandrio and claiming that ethnic Chinese Indonesians deserved the violence meted out to them. [continue reading]