Sydney’s Global Slavery Scandal of 1857

Sugarcane harvesters, Reunion Island c.1885
Sugarcane harvesters, Reunion Island

Karin Speedy
Macquarie University, Sydney
Follow on Twitter @KarinESpeedy

In 1857, 51 Gilbertese (I-Kiribati) and 14 Solomon Islanders were spirited away from their homes. They were transported on the Sydney-based barque Sutton, and then sold as indentured sugar labourers on the French-owned island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. When the scandal hit the shores of Sydney, the incident  shifted from a global diplomatic dispute between the British and French empires to a local story, revealing the complexity of the colonial space where culpability was tied to local politics, class, and notions of nationality.[1] Continue reading “Sydney’s Global Slavery Scandal of 1857”

A Parisian Ho Chi Minh Trail: Writing Global History Through Interwar Paris

Antiimperial Metropolis cover

Michael Goebel
Freie Universität Berlin
Follow on Twitter @mgoebel29

Anxieties over the possible political fallouts of African and Asian migration to Europe have a much longer history than the current refugee crisis might have you suspect. Colonial migration to interwar Paris, as I argue in Anti-Imperial Metropolis, turned into an important engine for the spread of nationalism across the French Empire. Studying the everyday lives of these migrants, in turn, might also offer a way out of the impasse that global historians currently face.

Let me begin with an anecdote that encapsulates my argument: In autumn 1919, while statesmen gathered in Paris’s upscale banlieues to redraw the political world map, local police hired a discharged Vietnamese adjutant as an undercover agent. His task was “to exercise a discrete surveillance” over a compatriot of his who had distributed leaflets entitled “The Demands of the Annamite People” among diplomats and informal spokesmen in the city’s shabbier neighbourhoods.

The newly enlisted informer took his assignment very seriously. He filed daily reports on just about every movement in the city’s Vietnamese community, producing a paper trail that can now only be traced through the National Archives in Paris and in the Colonial Archives in Aix-en-Provence. Continue reading “A Parisian Ho Chi Minh Trail: Writing Global History Through Interwar Paris”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

British India

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

From the perils of writing global history, to a global tale from 1623, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

4. In Defense of Global History

Editor’s Note: It is hard to believe that the Imperial & Global Forum went live just a year ago. In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us celebrate by checking out the year’s 10 most popular posts.

4. In Defense of Global History

Marc-William Palen
History Department, University of Exeter

Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

worldconnectingphoto

[Update: Please also read Professor Bell’s response.]

A recent New Republic article by David A. Bell on the limitations of the ‘global turn’ has been making the rounds this month, and deservedly so. Bell’s article reviews Emily Rosenberg’s 2012 edited volume A World Connecting: 1870-1945. [1] Nestled within it, however, is a much larger critique of the global historiographical shift toward ‘networks’ and ‘globalization’.

Bell’s criticisms are provocative. They are eloquent.

But are they fair? Let’s take a look. [continue reading]

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

influenze spreading disease

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

From the West’s decline to globalizing time, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

The Global Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1946-1994

Dr. Nicholas Grant
American Studies, University of East Anglia
Follow on Twitter @nicholasggrant

The Radical History Review Special Issue on ‘The Global Antiapartheid Movement’ No. 119 (Spring, 2014)
The Radical History Review Special Issue on ‘The Global Antiapartheid Movement’ No. 119 (Spring, 2014)

Last month saw the publication of the Radical History Review’s special issue on ‘The Global Anti-Apartheid Movement’. Appearing on the 20th anniversary of South African democracy, the issue contains articles, roundtables and review pieces that explore a range of transnational connections that shaped political opposition to white supremacy in South Africa. As editors Lisa Brock, Alex Lichtenstein and Van Gosse comment in their introduction, “in seeking contributions to this issue, we made a deliberate effort to give the truly global nature of the movements in solidarity with southern Africa their due.”[1]

Whilst activism in the US and Britain continues to dominate much of the scholarship on the international anti-apartheid movement, this special issue makes an important effort to move beyond this occasionally restricting narrative. Continue reading “The Global Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1946-1994”

Is Global History Suitable for Undergraduates?

world mapMarc-William Palen
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

Last week, I came across two provocative blog posts, at The Junto and the Imperial and Global History Network (IGHN), on teaching global history that got me thinking reflectively about my own recent experiences of approaching American and British imperial history from a global historical perspective. The big takeaways from both pieces seem to be: 1) teaching global history is a challenge not just for students but for teachers; and 2) that the net positive from teaching history from a global vantage point at the graduate level far outweighs said challenges. However, The Junto’s Jonathan Wilson concludes by quite explicitly questioning whether global historical approaches are in fact suitable for the first-year undergraduate classroom. Continue reading “Is Global History Suitable for Undergraduates?”