This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

ferguson
Left: photo from 1960s Civil Rights protest. Right: Ferguson protest.

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

From Ferguson’s international dimensions to . . . globalization as a game of Scrabble? Here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

whaling
Dundee Antarctic Whaling Expedition (1892–1893) by William Gordon Burn-Murdochphoto [credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)]

Marc-William Palen
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

From the imperial roots of hunger to whaling stations at the end of the earth, here are this week’s top reads in imperial and global history.

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Marc-William Palen

From the surprising American support for globalization and remembering the life of an influential U.S. imperial historian, to the fascinating legacies of Dien Bien Phu and the American war in Vietnam. Here are this week’s top picks in imperial & global history.

America’s Role in the World 
Wall Street Journal

Less Military Interventionism, More Trade?

New WSJ/NBC news polls provide what for some might seem to be contradictory opinions regarding how Americans see their country engaging with the globe.

The studies show Americans have consistently opposed military interventionism since 2003. Also, whereas in September 2001 only 14% of respondents felt the United States should become less active in world affairs, the number has skyrocketed to 47% in April 2014.

WSJ poll 1

Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire

Andrew Thompson

Centre Director Andrew Thompson explains that if globalization is not to silence the past, we need to delve back into its history – its imperial history.

Almost a century before Christopher Columbus 'discovered' the Americas, Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty undertook voyages across the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans. Photo credit: © Chris Hellier/Corbis
Admiral Zheng He. Almost a century before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas, Admiral Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty undertook voyages across the Indian and the Western Pacific Oceans. Photo credit: © Chris Hellier/Corbis

‘Globalization’ is among the biggest intellectual challenges facing the humanities and the social sciences today. It is a concept that conveys the sense that we are living in an age of transformation, where change is the only constant, nothing can be taken for granted, and no-one knows what the future might bring. But globalization is also much more than that. To borrow the phrase of the historical sociologist, Mike Savage, it is an ‘epoch description’, something that seeks to define for the current generation the very meaning of social change. By thinking of ourselves as part of a globalized world, we are saying something about how over time our identity has changed. We are locating ourselves in time, differentiating ourselves from our predecessors, signalling a break with what went before. Continue reading “Imperial Globalization – The Presence of the Past and the Crucible of Empire”

Teaching ’12 Years a Slave’ and other Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

greatbooksDebating the origins of the First World War will have to wait a few days. Why? Because this week was a big one for other imperial and global news, from teaching the history of slavery to the end of globalization. Here are some of the Forum’s top picks of the week. Continue reading “Teaching ’12 Years a Slave’ and other Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Top Christmas Picks in Imperial & Global History

christmasbooksNeed some fun reading on imperial and global history over the holiday break? Here are some of the Imperial & Global Forum‘s top recommendations: Continue reading “Top Christmas Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Diminishing Returns of the Global Turn

david avrom bellDavid A. Bell
Lapidus Professor of History, Princeton University
Contributing Editor, The New Republic

I am grateful to Marc-William  Palen for his smart, sharp comments on my New Republic essay, and also for his generous offer to let me respond to them on this blog.

Palen calls my essay ‘provocative’ and ‘eloquent’, but also ‘unfair’. I certainly prefer this judgment to ‘balanced, but dull and inarticulate’, but the adjective ‘unfair’ still rankles a little. In particular, Palen charges me with confusing page counts and criticism; with mixing up Atlantic history and global history; and with ‘expect[ing] the impossible’ from the volume that I was reviewing.

Of these charges, it is the third that really gets to the substantive differences between us. Continue reading “Diminishing Returns of the Global Turn”

The Limits of Globalization

Marc-William Palen

Inimese_tegevusruumAfter 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”

Welcome to the Imperial & Global Forum

Globus_book-shelf_hgAndrew Thompson
Centre Director

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Imperial & Global Forum, the blog of the Centre for Imperial and Global History at the History Department, University of Exeter. In it, contributors will tackle the controversies of empire and globalization, past and present. So please be sure to follow along, join in the discussion, and give us feedback on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

We are one of the largest UK research groups working on the history of modern empires and their importance for understanding the making of our contemporary world. If you go to our Centre website you will find more details about the range of staff involved, the variety of countries they study, and the work they have recently published. You will also be able to learn more of some of the major collaborative projects that are supported by the Centre, the particular colleagues who are involved in them, and the impact they are having within and beyond the academic world. Continue reading “Welcome to the Imperial & Global Forum”

In Defense of Global History

worldconnectingphotoMarc-William Palen
Follow on Twitter @MWPalen

[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 “In Defense of Global History”