Challenging the notion of a ‘humanitarian tradition’

 

Thomas Brückner

These days, when we compare discourses of humanitarian assistance, it is astonishing how many states use the formula of a ‘humanitarian tradition’ to describe past actions and indeed influence current debates (see examples with critical discussions from Britain and from Switzerland). Wo liegt die Humanitäre Schweiz ? Eine Spurensuche in 10 Episoden accordingly conducts research into the history of the concept in Switzerland during the 19th and 20th century. Continue reading “Challenging the notion of a ‘humanitarian tradition’”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Graves for Yemeni children killed by a Saudi-led coalition air strike (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

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

From curing America’s war addiction to when Jamaica led the postcolonial fight against exploitation, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Inside the Kingdom of Hayti, ‘the Wakanda of the Western Hemisphere’

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    An 1811 wood engraving depicts the coronation of King Henry. Fine Art America

Marlene Daut, University of Virginia

Marvel’s blockbuster Black Panther, which recently became the first superhero drama to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, takes place in the secret African Kingdom of Wakanda. The Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, rules over this imaginary empire – a refuge from the colonialists and capitalists who have historically impoverished the real continent of Africa.

But fans of the box-office hit might not realize that they don’t need to look to the make-believe world of the Black Panther to find a modern-day black kingdom that aspired to be a safe haven from racism and inequality.

The fictional kingdom has a real-life corollary in the historic Kingdom of Hayti, which existed as a sort of Wakanda of the Western Hemisphere from 1811 to 1820.

The Haitian Revolution led to the creation of the first free black state in the Americas. But the world was hardly expecting a former enslaved man named Henry Christophe to make himself the king of it.

Media accounts from the era, some of which I’ve collected in a digital archive, serve as a window into a brief period of time when the kingdom stood as a beacon of black freedom in a world of slavery. Yet, like Wakanda, the Kingdom of Hayti wasn’t a utopia for everyone. Continue reading “Inside the Kingdom of Hayti, ‘the Wakanda of the Western Hemisphere’”

January 1919: the Irish Republic, the League of Nations and a new world order

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                                                       Dáil Éireann (August 1921)

Darragh Gannon, Queen’s University Belfast

A century ago, on January 25, 1919, delegates to the Paris Peace Conference formally agreed on the establishment of a League of Nations, US President Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to create a new international order following the World War I.

Four days earlier, on January 21, Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s national parliament, had met for the first time. Its assembly in Dublin’s Mansion House was politically set to “Paris time”. Proclaiming an Irish Republic, the revolutionary parliament issued a Declaration of Independence from British rule in French, Irish, and English. It also sent A Message to the Free Nations of the World, and delegates to the Paris peace conference. It read:

Ireland today reasserts her historic nationhood confidently before the new world emerging from the War.

Neither the Irish Republic, nor its representatives would be admitted at Versailles. But international recognition of the Irish Republic, under the principles of the “new world order” established in Paris – self-determination, liberal democracy and internationalist development – would become a key battle ground in the Irish war of independence. A century on, it remains a key battle ground of historical debate – where, in this “new world order”, was the Irish Republic won and lost? Continue reading “January 1919: the Irish Republic, the League of Nations and a new world order”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Flamingo magazine covered West Indian popular culture and international politics.

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

From sex, ska, and Malcolm X to Algeria and the American Black Panther Party, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

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

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Guitar photographer/Shutterstock.com

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”