This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Taberna de Moe. San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. Tamlin Magee.

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

From whether sanctions can stop Russia to why bootleg Moe’s Taverns are all over Latin America, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

A sign indicates the highest fire alert level. Sydney, Australia, December 2019. Photograph: David Gray/Getty Images

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

From humanity’s weird history with fire to Putin’s parallels with 19th-century US imperialism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Adolf Hitler and his army parade, Prague, March 15, 1939, the day of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Wehrmacht. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

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

From Russia’s long history of economic isolation to Putin’s Hitler-like tactics, a special Ukrainian edition of this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Living Timeline: Paul Robeson Mural by Art Bloc DC. Exterior wall of 1351 U Street, NW, Washington DC, June 21, 2015. Captured by Elvert Barnes Photography (Flickr)

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

From Paul Robeson the revolutionary to Biden’s new Cold war, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Sukarno, the first president of Indonesia. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

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

From racism and the history of international relations to how UK propaganda leaflets inspired the massacre of Indonesian communists, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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Losing China: Revisiting American Involvement in China in the Early Cold War

PLA advancements in central China and Manchuria. China – Communist Controlled Areas as of 17 November 1948. National Security Council File; Harry S. Truman Presidential Library.

Giuseppe Paparella
University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @giuspaparella

Debates over the post-Second World War origins of Sino-American relations continue to inform – and daunt — policymakers and foreign policy experts in their effort to figure out a viable strategy to deal with Beijing. Writing in Foreign Affairs in 2018, Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner – Biden’s National Security Council Indo-Pacific Affairs Coordinator and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs respectively – branded the Truman Administrations’ various efforts to shape China’s behaviour as a failure. However, in commenting on the article James Curran – an Australian scholar on U.S. foreign policy – noticed that both this piece and the several respondents to it collectively failed “to acknowledge … the pervasive influence of American nationalist mythology on U.S.-China policy over the last seventy years.” In conclusion, Curran noted that “a critical but to date sadly neglected part of that process must surely involve taking a good, hard look at how the myths of American nationalism have influenced the course of U.S.-China policy since 1949.”

My newly published open-access article in The International History Review takes a fresh perspective and contributes to these debates. In it, I argue that between late 1948 and early 1949 Communist China and the United States might have been able to strike a more collaborative relationship had Truman applied more restraint to his nationalist colony image of China – a concept developed in-depth in the article – and been more willing to listen to Dean Acheson and advisors in the Division of Chinese Affairs, who promoted the “Chinese Titoism” strategy.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

US General Smedley Butler. Illustration by Colin Verdi, via The New Republic.

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

From the marine who turned against US empire to the afterlives of German colonialism in East Africa, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Dune / Production Stills / Warner Brothers Pictures

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

From Joseph Schumpeter and the economics of imperialism to Frank Herbert the Republican Salafist, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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AHRC SWW DTP Collaborative Doctoral Award Studentship for Sept 2022 entry – The Overseas Development Institute: From Decolonisation to Decolonising

Supervisors:

Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley, University of Southampton c.l.riley@soton.ac.uk

Dr Stacey Hynd, University of Exeter s.hynd@exeter.ac.uk

Dr Kerrie Holloway, The Overseas Development Institute k.holloway@odi.org.uk

This project contributes to the decolonising of knowledge around overseas aid and development. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) seeks to explore and understand its own history, having been established as an international development-focused think tank in 1960 during the decolonisation of the British Empire. Sixty years on, the international development sector is ever increasing in size, with its actions highly contested: lauded by some as a crucial source of redistributive justice, but criticised by others as a damaging form of neo-colonialism that perpetuates the very structures of global inequality that it protests. This project will not be an institutional history of ODI, but a critical reappraisal of the foundation, functioning and impact of the institution, using this case study to explore shifting ideas and practices of development, and the racialized structures of power that underpin it.

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New ‘Talking Empire’ Podcast: Richard Toye and Henry Knight Lozano on U.S. Settler Colonialism and the Pacific West

In the newest in CIGH’s ‘Talking Empire‘ series, Professor Richard Toye interviews Dr. Henry Knight Lozano about his book California and Hawai’i Bound: U.S. Settler Colonialism and the Pacific West, 1848-1959, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2021.

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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

From the Walter Rodney murder mystery 40 years later to British collaborators in Africa, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.


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PhD Studentship – Parliamentary Empire: British Democracy and Settler Colonialism, c.1867-1939 History

Deadline: 5 January 2022

University of Exeter – College of Humanities

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship as part of a Leverhulme funded project examining the role of Parliament in the UK and the settler-colonial ‘British World’ between the 1860s and 1930s, shedding light on the connected debates about democratic governance and political inclusion within a fractious British Empire.

Parliamentary Empire examines the role of Parliament in civic life in the UK and the settler-colonial ‘British World’ between the 1860s and 1930s. By exploring how different groups appealed to values of British parliamentarianism, we shed new light on the connected debates about democratic governance and political inclusion that characterised the emergence of nations within a fractious British Empire.

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Hanfu is More than a Costume: How China’s Contradictory Imperial Legacies are Creating a New Chinese Identity 

Hanfu craze: Young Chinese wearing Hanfu  

Tom Harper

On the 22nd November 2003, an electrical power worker from the Chinese province of Henan, Wang Letian, walked around his home city of Zhengzhou wearing a traditional Chinese costume called the Hanfu. Wang intended to promote traditional Chinese culture by generating interest in traditional Chinese garb.  At the time, Wang’s actions were unusual, with the Hanfu being largely confined to film sets and tourist attractions.[1]  Nevertheless, Wang received significant attention in China, and has often been cited as the originator of the current Hanfu craze sweeping China today.

Wang’s goal of promoting Chinese traditional culture appears to have been fulfilled in recent years, with the costume becoming a mainstay of social media platforms popular with Chinese millennials.  The popularity of the costume coincides with a wider discussion over the state of China’s identity, which marks a break from the previous focus on China’s economic development.[2]  This has often sought to emphasise the uniqueness of China’s identity as well as presenting China as a civilisation state rather than a nation-state in the Westphalian sense.[3]  By delving into China’s past, the rise of the Hanfu movement and the debate over China’s identity thus symbolises the contradictory nature of the legacies of China’s imperial dynasties, most notably the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as the role that these have played in shaping the present Chinese perception of China.   

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Prof. Nandini Chatterjee Wins Book Award

Congratulations to CIGH’s Prof. Nandini Chatterjee, who has recently won a prestigious book award from the American Society for Legal History for her book Negotiating Mughal Law: A Family of Landlords Across Three Indian Empires (Cambridge University Press, 2020). The Peter Gonville Stein Book Award is given for the ‘Best book in legal history (written in English) outside the field of US legal history, published during the previous calendar year.’

Negotiating Mughal Law is a wonderful combination of philology, imagination, archive sleuthing, and sharp intelligence. Based on a painstakingly collected set of documents in a few languages from a society that lacked a centralized legal archive, it is a micro-history of a family of landlords in central India over several centuries. Chatterjee provides a rich narrative of law as put into practice in the daily lives of a wide range of people. Her attention to methodology is a model of the care and self-criticism that underlies the very best historical research, and for this reason the book is of great value beyond its specific geographical and temporal context.

You can read the official announcement and list of awards and prizes here.

Decolonising Collections: Investigating Knowledge Formation Networks in Colonial India

Gold coin of the Mugal ruler Jahangir (r. 1605– 27), zodiac coin bearing the figure of the Sagittarius on the obverse and an inscription on the reverse, minted in Lahore. Acquisition date 1937. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Shreya Gupta
University of Exeter

Objects hold a special place in the way we look at the past. Objects travel across borders and have lives. Their meanings and values change across time, and decoding these meanings can help us understand our history better. Museums are repositories of relics from the past. They are one of the mediums through which we form tangible links with our history. But objects in museums did not make it there by themselves.

Many of the South Asian objects in UK museums arrived here during the colonial era. Systematic projects of collecting were organised to serve the goals of museums. British imperial officers organised surveys of India’s landscape, monuments, and antiquities and with the collected artefacts, intended to write a history of and for India. While the life trajectories of these colonial officers are well documented, the role of their Indian collaborators and helpers is often omitted. This has to do with both the tendency to look at British officers as heroic figures who helped uncover India’s “hidden” past and the distorted nature of the archive, which itself tends to obscure the role of indigenous players.

We therefore need to rethink the way we look at museums and understand the urgency of decolonising them. As the movement for decolonising museums gains ground, their responsibility in telling inclusive and fuller stories has become clear. As part of this endeavor, museums are undertaking deeper provenance research. They are researching the histories of the objects that they hold, exploring the exact contours of how the collecting process worked on the ground and who were the actors and institutions involved in it. The findings from this research can then help us better make sense of the contested colonial contexts in which objects were acquired by museums during the height of colonialism.

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