Digital Research Tips for Dissertations in Imperial & Global History

Image from Journal of a Residence in the Burmhan Empire, and more particularly at the Court of Amarapoorah [Edited by H. C. M. Cox.], p. 328. Courtesy of the British Library.
Image from Journal of a Residence in the Burmhan Empire, and more particularly at the Court of Amarapoorah [Edited by H. C. M. Cox.], p. 328. Courtesy of the British Library on flickr.

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

It is that time of year again. The semester begins; students scramble to find digital archives for research papers; supervisors seek to steer them in the right direction. In contrast to a decade ago, online archival options are now overwhelming. To help wade through the sea of digital archives, over the past couple of years we have offered some suggestions for digital research in imperial and global history, included below. Any other new digital archives that those researching topics in imperial and global history might find useful?
Continue reading “Digital Research Tips for Dissertations in Imperial & Global History”

In Wilson’s Shadow: Why the 1975 Europe Referendum Still Matters

Margaret Thatcher,  William Whitelaw and Peter Kirk, at a referendum conference. June 1975. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images
Margaret Thatcher, William Whitelaw and Peter Kirk, at a referendum conference. June 1975. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

Richard Toye and David Thackeray
University of Exeter

Forty years ago today Britain went to the polls to decide a crucial question: would the country remain in the European Economic Community (EEC)? It had only joined the EEC, the EU forerunner organisation, two years previously, and this was the first UK-wide referendum. When the votes were counted the results were emphatic. The nation had voted ‘yes’ to Europe by a two to one margin. The Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson hailed the result, noting that no one in Britain or the wider world could be in doubt about its meaning. Margaret Thatcher, the recently-chosen Tory leader, observed that the ‘massive “Yes” vote could not have come about without a massive Conservative “Yes”.’ Today, as the British people prepare for a new European plebiscite, what lessons can be learned from the experience of 1975? Continue reading “In Wilson’s Shadow: Why the 1975 Europe Referendum Still Matters”

Imagining Markets workshop Report, Exeter, April 2015

Reed Hall1

David Thackeray
University of Exeter

Cross-Posted from Imagining Markets

A chilly start at Reed Hall, Exeter!

We were delighted to welcome Imagining Markets network participants to Exeter for our first event last week. This is the first of a series of three academic workshops, with subsequent events to be held in London and Cambridge over the next year, exploring various facets of Britain’s economic culture and its relationship with key markets.

Paul Young opened proceedings with a paper exploring how the growth of the refrigerated meat and beef stock industries led to new understandings of the South American environment in Victorian literature such as the eco-romance The Purple Land and in advertising, where the Uruguay-based Leibig’s company had to compete with the imperial populism of Bovril.

Alan Booth introduced a new project exploring the development of the Rowntree business lectures, which emerged after World War I in a context of growing global economic competition to British business, and interest in new American methods of industrial psychology and management consultancy.
Continue reading “Imagining Markets workshop Report, Exeter, April 2015”

12 Digital Research Suggestions for Dissertations on the History of Modern Britain & the British Empire

Illustrated London News

David Thackeray, Marc Palen and Richard Toye
University of Exeter
 

As 3rd-year students scramble to finish their dissertations and as 2nd-year students begin formulating topics for their own, it’s worth noting the dramatic expansion in the availability of sources for the study of modern British and British imperial history in recent years.

Many of these sources are free to use. However, it is often hard to keep track of what materials are now available. What follows is a short guide (which is by no means comprehensive) but gives an introduction to some of the most important sources and may be of particular use to students planning dissertations, as well as other researchers. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the ‘comments’ section.

  1. Mass Observation was a social investigation organisation set up in the 1930s that produced a range of social surveys about British life until its disbandment in the late 1940s. This website provides online access to a range of data held in the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex and is invaluable for social historians. Dr. Lucy Robinson has also produced the excellent Observing the 80s website, which holds material compiled following the modern revival of Mass Observation, as well as oral history recordings from the British Library.

Continue reading “12 Digital Research Suggestions for Dissertations on the History of Modern Britain & the British Empire”

Film Archives and the Future of Imperial History

Thackeray 1

David Thackeray
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @d_thackeray

Last month I had the pleasure of participating in a joint workshop staged by the AHRC Care for the Future and Labex: Passes Dans le Present research clusters at the Royaumont Foundation near Paris. The two days showcased a range of projects assessing how study of the past can inform contemporary and future policy-making and cultural debates- from the use of colonial heroes in modern Africa, to how digitisation is reshaping understanding of museums, and the links between modern and historical anti-slavery movements.

My own focus was on the challenges facing film archives and how this affects the future of imperial history. For the historian of imperial trade networks – film provides a fascinating, and in many ways under-used resource. Continue reading “Film Archives and the Future of Imperial History”

Announcing a New Website: ‘Imagining Markets’

South African Oranges (Empire Marketing Board Poster), Library and Archives Canada.
South African Oranges (Empire Marketing Board Poster), Library and Archives Canada.

Interested in the historical intersection of trade, culture, and empire? A new website, Imaginingmarkets.com, provides information on two AHRC projects which are being hosted by the University of Exeter’s History Department: ‘Imagining Markets: Conceptions of Europe, Empire/Commonwealth and China in Britain’s economic future since 1900’ (AHRC network, 2014-16) established by David Thackeray, Andrew Thompson and Richard Toye, and David Thackeray’s AHRC Research Leadership Fellowship ‘Backing Britain: Imagining a nation’s economic future since 1900’ (2014-15).

Woman Shopping at John Bull and Sons (British Empire Marketing Board, 1928), Library and Archives Canada.
Woman Shopping at John Bull and Sons (British Empire Marketing Board, 1928), Library and Archives Canada.

Both projects are united by an interest in connecting historical and contemporary ways of thinking about Britain’s future global economic orientation, and involve a range of activities staged with project partners from the fields of public policy and heritage. Readers can subscribe to get updates on the projects. There will also be a blog to discuss issues connected with the research themes.

British Soft Power in South Asia: Historicizing Deglobalization

british_empire_board_game_box

David Thackeray
History Department, University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @d_thackeray

Cross-posted from History & Policy

Many of the core debates in UK politics today concern the nation’s future trade: the question of Scottish independence, devolution of political power to the regions, and a potential referendum on EU membership. Exploring the history of British trade identities can provide important insights into how we got here and the potential choices for policy makers. As historian Jim Tomlinson has argued, the twentieth century witnessed a gradual process of the ‘partial de-globalisation’ of British regions, with the declining influence of manufacturing and the growth of a more atomised service-sector economy. The discontents this has caused, exacerbated by the recent worldwide economic downturn, have been seized upon by parties such as the SNP and UKIP. Continue reading “British Soft Power in South Asia: Historicizing Deglobalization”