The Post-Colonial People’s War: The Legacy of Maoism

A Timeless Strategy? A 1991 English translation of Mao Zedong’s On Guerrilla Warfare

Tom Harper

1935 was not a good year for Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  Having almost been wiped out by the encirclement campaigns waged by the Chinese Nationalists (KMT) of Chiang Kai Shek and barely surviving the Long March to Shaanxi Province, one could be forgiven for thinking that the days of Chinese communism were numbered.      Even fewer could have predicted that nearly fourteen years later, Mao, with his nationalist foes now vanquished to the island of Formosa, would be standing in Tiananmen Square declaring the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Much of the reversal of the CCP’s fortunes can be attributed to the ideology and strategies formulated by Mao and his German educated strategist, Zhu De, which combined Marx’s theories on communist revolution with traditional Chinese texts such as The Water Margin and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to a context far removed from Marx’s prognosis for revolution.  [2]    These ideas would form a significant part of China’s contribution to the post-colonial world and influenced both guerrilla movements across the globe and the counter insurgency planners that sought to defeat them. These strategies also would influence the thinking behind Chinese foreign policy during and after the Cold War. Continue reading “The Post-Colonial People’s War: The Legacy of Maoism”

Memory Erasure of Trans-Imperial History in the City of Nerchinsk

Journey through Siberia from Tobol’sk to Nerchinsk and the Chinese Border. Электронная библиотека (репозиторий) ТГУ < http://vital.lib.tsu.ru/vital/access/manager/Repository/vtls:000193788/SOURCE1&gt;


Iacopo Adda
Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva

On 4 December 1675 (14 December in the Gregorian calendar), gunshots were fired into the air from the fortress of Nerchinsk. A conspicuous group of Cossacks had been approaching the fortress and they immediately answered the salute. It was a signal for the arrival of a special traveller, who had been sent by Tsar Alexis I to lead a Russian embassy to the court of the Chinese Emperor. This special envoy was the Moldavian literary man Nicolae Milescu Spătaru, known in Russia as Nikolai Spatharii or Spafarii, who had taken up service as a diplomat of the Tsar a few years before.[1]

Spătaru was not the first envoy whom Moscow had sent to Beijing to discuss the settlement of the border between Russia and China, but he was the first to take the internal Siberian route from Moscow to China. He was also the first to provide the tsarist court with a fairly detailed, though sometimes imprecise, description of the geography of the Russian imperial possessions east of the Urals, which was published as Journey through Siberia from Tobol’sk to Nerchinsk and the Chinese Border (see photo above). However, scientific exploration was not the primary goal of the expedition.[3] As the Cossacks had only recently pushed down to the Amur valley, the border situation was unstable, but the Russians hoped to secure both a good strategic position on the Amur and a stable trade route to China. This would have meant reopening a sort of Russian-branded Silk Road, almost 300 years after the collapse of the one that had accompanied the pax mongolica between the 13th and 14th centuries. Continue reading “Memory Erasure of Trans-Imperial History in the City of Nerchinsk”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

A World War II poster urges women to find a job to aid in the war effort. Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

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

From the historical novelty of the coronavirus to how it will change the global order, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Flu victims in an emergency hospital at Fort Riley, in Kansas, in 1918. Photograph: Associated Press

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

With a special Coronavirus edition, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Portuguese imperial propaganda poster, 1934. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Creative Commons).

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

From debating Portuguese colonialism to hiding French colonial archives, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Tel Aviv Street, 1935, © National Library of Israel

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

From when India’s Olympians refused to salute Hitler to the shameful final grievance of the Declaration of Independence, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

From martial law to counter-terrorism law: lessons from British colonialism in Egypt

Map of colonial Egypt, in Ward, Prothero, and Leathes, The Cambridge Modern History Atlas (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1912),

Alice Finden
SOAS, University of London

I have reluctantly forborne to point out that during the war when Egypt was a Protectorate the Home Office used to treat Egyptians as alien extremists.

Sir Robert Allason Furness, Oriental Secretary in Egypt, 1922 [1]

12 February 2020 marks the five-year anniversary of the UK Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The bill – one in a series of acts passed since the Terrorism Act 2000 –  was described as giving the UK ‘some of the toughest powers in the world to tackle the increasing threat from international terrorism.’ At the time it was condemned for providing the police with powers that were consequently exercised in an ‘overly-broad, discriminatory and ineffective manner.’

The Act introduced PREVENT, which places a statutory duty on public bodies to work with the police and local authorities to help prevent ‘vulnerable’ people from being drawn into terrorism. As reports and cases have shown, PREVENT works on a racialised and arbitrary logic which results in Muslim communities being suspected. In 2018 for example, a six-year-old child was referred to PREVENT for comments he had learned from the television programme ‘Horrible Histories’. The process caused great distress for the whole family. Wide powers such as these have been attributed in part to the definition of terrorism in the UK Terrorism Act 2000 being ‘one of the broadest in the world.’

The elasticity of the terms ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ of course did not appear with 9/11 or 7/7. Rather, they have a long historical use by imperial states justifying violence against anti-colonial resistance. Cases of British martial law and blacklisting in Egypt in the years surrounding the First World War illustrate the historical racialised and wide-reaching constructions of ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ underpinning contemporary British counter-terrorism legislation. Continue reading “From martial law to counter-terrorism law: lessons from British colonialism in Egypt”