The age of decolonization is of crucial importance for our understanding of today’s world. By dissolving colonial rule around the world, this process led to the emergence of new sovereign states, thereby permanently changing international relations and international law.
The third phase of decolonization is the one most closely associated with the term “decolonization” today – and which refers to the end of European colonial rule after 1945. The process of the dissolution of the European overseas empires had a profound effect on the course of international history during the 20th century. This process occurred relatively quickly given that colonial rule had existed in some cases for a number of centuries. Only after just 30 years, from 1945 to 1975, all the colonial empires had disappeared from the global map.
Since its founding in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been aware of the importance of keeping a record of its work and of its legacy – in the form of paper and audiovisual archives – to preserve the memories and knowledge of its past and to lay the foundation for its current and future work. Over time, the organization has amassed an outstanding and unique collection that encompasses its own history as well as the history of international humanitarian law and humanitarian action in general.
In January 1996, the ICRC decided to open its archives to the public in broad chronological sections at a time. By shortening the protective embargo on its archives, the ICRC was able to open the 1951-1965 records in 2004, thereby adding to the sources in its collection available for consultation by the public. From January 2015, the 1966-1975 archives will also be open to outside researchers. Continue reading “The @ICRC Archive is Opening its Records from 1966-1975”→
International Law and Legal Pluralism, British Style
In 2008, the then Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams courted controversy. He stated that recognition of certain aspects of Islamic law, Shari‘a, was essential for Britain in the interest of community cohesion. ‘As a matter of fact’, he said, ‘certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law’. The erudite archbishop was referring primarily to religious principles being valid bases for conscientious objections, and alternative marital dispute resolution methods. But had he chosen to use historical material, Dr. Williams would have had far more to go on.
And that is where my new digital archive project would have come in most handy to the archbishop. Shari‘a – alongside Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Jewish, and African customary laws – has indeed been part of the British legal system for a very long time. It has been administered by the final court of appeal for the British Empire, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This tribunal, which sat in London, was originally an expression of royal prerogative. Then, in 1833, it was given its modern form. Between then and 1998, it has heard around 9,000 appeals from all over the British Empire. Continue reading “New Digital Resource: The British Empire’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council”→
We have been tackling some weighty subjects in the Forum this past week. In particular, the pros and cons of global history. A lighter approach to imperial and global history seemed in order. And who better to do so than an alien traveler of time and space like the Doctor?
Last Saturday witnessed the much anticipated 50th anniversary episode of the series. I had thought that my 3D glasses were enough to hide my attendance at its theatrical debut. But the cat, as they say, is out of the bag. It appears that I have failed miserably in keeping my secret Doctor Who obsession, well, a secret.
Today, one of my students sent me a link to a great article in the New Statesman. It explores the liberal contradictions of the intrepid Doctor, much as the Centre’s Professor Richard Toye did with Winston Churchill and empire last week. The author of the New Statesman article, Andrew Harrison, sets the ideologically confusing intergalactic stage thusly: Continue reading “Is Doctor Who an Anti-Imperialist?”→
After last week’s post extolling the seemingly limitless avenues of historical inquiry offered through the study of globalization, it seems only fitting that I should now offer a somewhat contrary one on the limits of globalization.
Sycophantic proponents and adamant critics alike view globalization — the process of speeding up global integration via capital flows, markets, ideas, people, and technology — as an omnipresent and inexorable process. For devout acolytes from Richard Cobden to Thomas Friedman, it appears as a benign process that will one day make the world’s markets so interdependent that war itself will become anachronistic. For its harshest critics, and despite historical evidence and scholarship to the contrary, globalization remains an unstoppable force led by a secretive cabal of powerful multinational corporations hell-bent upon undermining national sovereignty in an endless search for profit. Continue reading “The Limits of Globalization”→
The Centre for Imperial and Global History is delighted to announce that registration is open for the fast-approaching ‘Postwar Decolonisation and its Impact in Europe’ Conference, to be held at the University of Exeter, December 2-3, 2013.
The unravelling of European empires was foundational to the making of the modern world. An old imperial order was swept away, and a new age of nation states rapidly replaced it. Whilst decolonisation played a fundamental role in the shaping of post-war world, its repercussions for Europe itself, and its legacies in a host of political, social and cultural spheres, are still relatively little examined.This conference will examine how the global dynamics of decolonisation had an impact not only on the ‘western core’ of the continent, but also in state socialist eastern Europe, and in southern Europe, which have been hitherto little considered in this light. Continue reading “Registration Open for ‘Postwar Decolonisation and Its Impact in Europe’, Exeter, December 2-3 2013”→
The Centre for Imperial and Global History is pleased to announce its new ‘Talking Empire’ podcast series. Hosted by Professor Richard Toye, Centre academics are developing a series of podcasts on controversies in global and imperial history, which are available to listen to for free on this page.
With this first installment, Centre Director Andrew Thompson discusses the longstanding debates surrounding the work of Jack Gallagher and Ronald Robinson. In their path-breaking 1953 Economic History Review article, ‘The Imperialism of Free Trade’, Gallagher and Robinson suggested that the so-called ‘New Imperialism’ of the late nineteenth century was not new at all. They argued instead that imperial historians had previously missed Britain’s informal imperial expansion following its adoption of free trade policies c. 1850. The authors expanded further upon their informal imperial findings with Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism (1961).
In the introduction to his new book Churchill and Empire, Lawrence James refers to Winston Churchill’s ‘essentially liberal imperialism’. James does not really explain what he means by this, but his comment is intriguing. Previously, in a Daily Mailarticle, he decried the ‘hand-wringing and breast-beating’ of modern-day critics of Empire, or, as he describes them, the ‘tribunes of political correctness’. From this, one would not think that he is someone who would in general view ‘liberal’ as a term of praise; yet his use of it in this instance is clearly not intended as a criticism of Churchill. Rather, one deduces, he sees ‘liberal’ in this particular context as a synonym for ‘moderate’ or perhaps ‘humane’. If that is indeed what he means – in other words, that if Churchill was a liberal imperialist then his imperialism must have been benign – the equation is highly problematic. Continue reading “Winston Churchill – Liberal Imperialist?”→
Welcome to the Imperial & Global Forum, the blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department, University of Exeter! Under the directorship of Professor Andrew Thompson, the Centre brings together the strong research expertise of the University’s eminent imperial historians. Continue reading “Coming Soon!”→