When is colonialism a genocide? The case of Indigenous women and girls in Canada

Activists seeking justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) march down Toronto streets, 22 March 2018.

Lori Lee Oates

Canada’s treatment of Indigenous persons by white settlers and contemporary government institutions are issues that have increasingly come to the forefront of late. They are at the heart of questions around how we should govern in the modern world. These institutions were not built by Indigenous persons, and Canadians are increasingly recognizing that our government has often contributed to the poor health, safety, and economic outcomes experienced by Indigenous persons.

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) inquiry in Canada recently sparked a debate over whether Indigenous persons in the country have suffered, and continue to suffer, from genocide. The inquiry came about in response to years of lobbying by Indigenous women, and was the fulfillment of a campaign promise on the part of the Trudeau government. The final report was released on 3 June, entitled Reclaiming Power and Place. Continue reading “When is colonialism a genocide? The case of Indigenous women and girls in Canada”

Cold War Triangle: How Scientists in East and West Tamed HIV

Renilde Loeckx. Cold War Triangle: How Scientists in East and West Tamed HIV. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2017. 192 pp. $29.50 (paper), ISBN 978-946270113-7.

Reviewed by Dora Vargha (University of Exeter) Published on H-Diplo (February, 2019) Commissioned by Seth Offenbach (Bronx Community College, The City University of New York)

Cross-posted from H-Diplo

Printable Version: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=53143

Renilde Loeckx’s Cold War Triangle tells the story of an international scientific collaboration across the iron curtain that led to the development of HIV blockbuster drugs such as Viread and Truvada. It is as much a story of Cold War collaboration among scientists, as a story of collaboration between scientific institutions and pharmaceutical companies. In her introduction, Loeckx, a former ambassador of Belgium, sets out to bridge diplomacy and science to tell the story of Antonín Holy and Erik Le Clercq: the collaboration of a Czechoslovak and Belgian scientist with the American pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. As Loeckx writes, the book is “about the human face of science, how scientists from three different cultures collaborated to create the complex drugs that saved millions of lives” (p. 15). Continue reading “Cold War Triangle: How Scientists in East and West Tamed HIV”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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

From tracing Kenya’s plundered cultural artefacts to calling U.S. detention centers “concentration camps,” here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Apartheid’s Secrets and Lies

Stuart Mole
University of Exeter

If the first casualty of war is truth, the last act of a tyrannical regime is to attempt to expunge all evidence of its crimes. In 1992, with apartheid’s end in sight, South Africa’s President, FW De Klerk, authorised the destruction by the National Intelligence Agency of 44 tonnes of incriminating material[1]. This was incinerated at night at a location outside Pretoria. Vast amounts of other sensitive records have also disappeared, in what Verne Harris has called a “large-scale and systematic sanitisation of official memory”.[2] But Hennie Van Vuuren and his team of researchers from the not-for-profit organisation ‘Open Secrets’ have been driven by the firm belief that apartheid’s secrets must be exposed, and that truth will out. Over five years of meticulous research they have examined around 2 million documents in over two dozen archives across the world. In South Africa itself, through fifty freedom of information requests, they were able to access recently de-classified papers in eight government departments.

The result is a 600-page blockbuster, now available in the UK (Apartheid, Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, London C. Hurst & Co 2018). With a focus on the last fifteen years of apartheid, the author argues that the apartheid regime went to increasingly covert and illegal lengths to defend its position in the face of international sanctions and growing unrest in the townships and on its borders. A war economy was built, and around one-third of the state budget was spent on security and the military (though the scale of the expenditure was concealed). Externally, a network of political, business, intelligence and criminal links were constructed in over fifty countries so that South Africa could evade the oil and arms embargo, launder money and circumvent sanctions. Those nations accused of giving succour to the regime are not only those of the West – such as the USA, France and the UK – but, surprisingly, countries such as East Germany, Russia and China who proclaimed their support for the liberation movements. In the case of China, van Vuuren’s remarkable accusation is that while ostensibly backing the Pan-Africanist Congress and, later, the African National Congress, the People’s Republic supplied arms to the South African regime throughout the 1980s (while also continuing to arm its liberation partners). Continue reading “Apartheid’s Secrets and Lies”

Seeking Thomas Howard in Rotherham: local groundings for a global life

Julia Leikin
University of Exeter

Cross-posted from Historical Transactions

In the last weekend of April, as part of the program for Professor Elena Smilianskaia, a visiting fellow at the University of Exeter, Dr Julia Leikin, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, organized a trip to the town of Rotherham in South Yorkshire, to find out more about Thomas Howard, the third Earl of Effingham (1746-1791). In this post, Julia Leikin recounts the surprising results of the trip.

Howard is, on the surface, an elusive figure. Despite his military and political stature, and a wide range of eccentricities, Howard did not leave behind a substantial archive for historians to exploit. He does have a short entry on Wikipedia, but there is no biography nor even an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to document his military career, his support of the American colonies in the American Revolution, and his short-lived governorship of Jamaica. Neither is he named among Eton College’s notable alumni.

But Thomas Howard is one of the notable figures who appears in my and Prof Smilianskaia’s forthcoming annotated translation of Rear-Admiral John Elphinstone’s Russian Faith, Honour & Courage Displayed in a Faithful Narrative of the Russian Expedition by Sea in the Years 1769 & 1770. Elphinstone offers a rare, first-hand account of the Russian voyage around the continent of Europe to the Eastern Mediterranean and offers a new perspective of his skirmishes with Ottoman forces, including the famous Battle of Çeşme (1770), alongside caustic descriptions of its participants. (This characterization does not extend to Thomas Howard, for whom Elphinstone was full of admiration.) Continue reading “Seeking Thomas Howard in Rotherham: local groundings for a global life”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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

From globalization’s wrong turn to watching the end of the world, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Confronting Catastrophe: International Disaster Assistance and Twentieth Century U.S. Foreign Relations – A Talk by Prof. Julia Irwin (4 July)

We are delighted to welcome Professor Julia Irwin (University of South Florida), who will be at the University of Exeter on a Visiting International Academic Fellowship on July 4. During her visit, she has kindly offered to give a lecture entitled ‘Confronting Catastrophe: International Disaster Assistance and Twentieth Century U.S. Foreign Relations.’ Her talk is in association with Exeter’s Centre for Imperial and Global History, the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, and the Centre for Medical History.

When: Thursday, 4 July, 3-4:30pm

Where: Laver LT3 (University of Exeter, Streatham Campus)

Abstract: Prof. Irwin’s talk examines the history and politics of U.S. foreign disaster assistance in the 20th century. More specifically, she considers the ways that the U.S. government, military, and private organizations have historically responded to major natural disasters abroad, and critically analyses the political implications and diplomatic significance of these humanitarian efforts.

Bio: Prof. Irwin is Associate Chair in the History Department at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on the place of humanitarianism and foreign assistance in 20th century U.S. foreign relations and international history. Her first book, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening (Oxford University Press, 2013), is a history of U.S. relief efforts for foreign civilians in the era of the First World War, exploring both the diplomatic and the cultural significance of humanitarian aid in these years. Her work has appeared in The Journal of American History, The American Historian, Diplomatic History, First World War Studies, The Bulletin of the History of Medicine, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Moving the Social, History of Education Quarterly, and Nursing History Review. She was also the senior editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia in American History (2014-16). She is now writing a second book, Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disasters, which analyzes how U.S. State Department agencies, branches of the U.S. military, American charities and relief organizations, and the American public have responded to foreign disasters caused by tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other natural hazards throughout the twentieth century.