This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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

From the global networks of Indonesian communism to historians’ revolt against the National Archives, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Investigating the history of the 1990s in Algeria through the issue of repression – a talk by Dr Saphia Arezki

Investigating the history of the 1990s in Algeria through the issue of repression:  the case of internment camps (1991-1995)

Dr. Saphia Arezki, Associate researcher (IREMAM and CHERPA ,Aix-en-Provence)

When: 4-5:30pm, Wed. Jan. 22, 2020

Where: Queens building MR2+3, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter 


Having completed a thesis on the role of Algerian officers in the construction of a national army between 1954 and 1991, the focus of my postdoctoral research shifted to the 1990s in Algeria. Over the course of this decade, nearly 150,000 Algerians died, and the 1990s have come to be known as Algeria’s “black decade”. The precise nature of what took place remains a matter of debate. Was it a civil war? A war against civilians? Was it a fight against terrorism? While the term civil war is discussed but far from agreed upon, this broad descriptor perhaps best describes the reality that the country went through during the decade in question. The jurist Mouloud Boumghar justifies the use of this terminology in a way that seems convincing: “The term ‘war’ is used here in a non-legal sense of armed struggle between social and/or political groups with a goal of imposing by force a determined will on the adversary. It is described as civilian in order to mark its character as a non-international war between an established government and an insurrectional movement that challenges the former for the power of the state”[1]. Political scientists Adam Baczko and Gilles Dorronsoro propose a definition of civil war “as the coexistence on the same national territory of different social orders maintaining a violent relationship”[2] which is relevant in the Algerian context. Continue reading “Investigating the history of the 1990s in Algeria through the issue of repression – a talk by Dr Saphia Arezki”

CFP: Decolonization Workshop @ICwS_SAS, Monday 16 March 2020

Decolonization Workshop, Monday 16 March 2020

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

The Court Room, Senate House, London

Call for papers

We will be running our next Decolonization Workshop here at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in Senate House, London, on Monday 16 March 2020. The day will run from 11.00am to 6.00pm.

As on previous occasions, we aim to have a series panel discussions over the course of the day. Each panel will consist of three papers lasting for 15-20 minutes. We are particularly appealing for proposals for presentations from research students and early-career researchers, although we welcome the participation of more established scholars. The workshop will provide an informal and supportive forum in which to discuss work in progress. Continue reading “CFP: Decolonization Workshop @ICwS_SAS, Monday 16 March 2020”

Researching the Colonial Past on Instagram

William Gallois
University of Exeter

While considerable literatures exist which describe interactions between European modernist art and local forms of culture, Tunisia is quite typical in being a site in which scholars know very little about indigenous forms of artistic production in the late- nineteenth and eraly-twentieth centuries. Colonists generally disparaged the paintings of locals as being instances of folk art, art brut, popular culture or graffiti, while such judgements have also tended to be replicated in the work of scholars of empire right up until our present. While a work of abstraction by Matisse or Klee is accorded value in the setting of a western museum, similar shapes and forms found painted onto walls and paper in north Africa have been viewed as crude instances of a backward culture.

Through a process of what Maziyar Ghiabi calls ‘visual archaeology’, contemporary scholars are, however, able to relocate and, in some cases, reproduce artworks from the margins of colonial-era photography and ephemeral forms such as postcards and advertisements. What such discoveries reveal in Tunisia, and across Islamic Africa, are the existence of vast corpuses of complex, beautiful and powerful works of art almost exclusively made by women. These paintings drew on traditiona forms of cultural expression in radically new ways so as to make pictures which would protect subjugated populations from the violence of colonial rule.

This got me thinking that Instagram could be an interesting place to explore the subject further, as it seems an especially apt venue for those who work primarily with images. As well as potentially exposing wider publics to new research, it has especial appeal as a means of democratically engaging audiences in the global South. I realise that some would question how the granting of intellectual property to a western digital behemoth is any sense a decolonial act, but given the manner in which scholars in the Humanities are in thrall to exclusionary paid-for publishing options, I’d suggest that it merits consideration as a means of speaking outside of the world of paywalls. Continue reading “Researching the Colonial Past on Instagram”

Travel Grants Available – Governing Humanitarianism: Past, Present and Future Conference


Governing Humanitarianism: Past, Present and Future



for Early Career Researchers and Young Professionals

Deadline: March 15, 2020

Apply here:

The Topic

Humanitarian organisations across the globe face growing challenges in delivering aid, securing funds and maintaining public confidence. Trade-offs between sovereignty, democracy, security, development, identity, and human rights have become highly complex. The Herrenhausen Conference ‘Governing Humanitarianism’ interrogates present issues and future directions for global humanitarian governance in relation to its pasts. It asks if humanitarian expansion has come at the expense of core values and effective intervention, and how the pursuit of global equity and social justice can be pursued through shifting global and local power structures. The conference features six key themes: Humanitarianism as Global Networks and Activism; Gendering Humanitarianism; Humanitarianism and International Law; Humanitarian Political and Moral Economies; Media and Humanitarianism; Humanitarianism, Development and Global Human Rights. Continue reading “Travel Grants Available – Governing Humanitarianism: Past, Present and Future Conference”

Marking thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall

Ulrike Zitzlsperger
University of Exeter

Cross-posted from the Exeter Language and Culture Blog

On 9 November 2019 Berlin is once more the central location for celebrations commemorating the fall of the Wall, the physical divide between East and West Germany and unique symbol of the Cold War. In 2019 the Wall will have been gone for more years than it actually stood.

Developed from August 1961 to stem the growing exodus of a skilled work-force, the Wall allowed the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to become the success story of the Warsaw Pact. However, time and again people risked everything to escape to the West. Even if they were successful they left their former lives behind and knew that any remaining family would be punished by the state: costing them, for example, that much longed-for place to study at University or a trip abroad. There were more sinister options too. In Berlin, so-called frontier-city of the Cold War, the Wall encircled the Western part of the city, measuring between 3.4 and 4.2 metres in height. There is a memorable scene in Steven Spielberg’s film Bridge of Spies (2015), when one of the protagonists watches lone figures from the inner-city railway desperately climbing the Wall. The scene is fiction – just like the scene in the Alfred Hitchcock film Torn Curtain (1966) that makes us believe that GDR citizens hijacked buses with passengers on board to escape. The Wall never needed this kind of embellishment: it was sufficiently surreal, monstrous and overwhelming as it was, including the death-strip in between both Walls – one facing West, one East. Continue reading “Marking thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

The conference of Berlin, as illustrated in ‘Illustrierte Zeitung’, 1884 [WikiCommons
Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From remembering the 1884 Berlin Conference to hunger, starvation, and Indian soldiers in World War II, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”