This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

The statue of Mary Thomas called “I Am Queen Mary” is the first public monument to a black woman in Denmark, according to the artists. Credit Nick Furbo

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

From Denmark’s memorializing of a Caribbean ‘rebel queen’ to the Left’s embrace of empire, 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

(Photo: Matt Kennedy/Disney/Marvel Studios)

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

From imperial history wars to Wakanda and black feminist political imagination, 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

A statue of Saddam Hussein in front of the burning National Olympic Committee in Baghdad in 2003. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

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

With a special Iraq War edition, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Empire by Imitation?

“The next thing to do,” Puck, 1898.

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

US Economic Imperialism within a British World System

Historians have been busy chipping away at the myth of the exceptional American Empire, usually with an eye towards the British Empire. Most comparative studies of the two empires, however, focus on the pre-1945 British Empire and the post-1945 American Empire.[i] Why this tendency to avoid contemporaneous studies of the two empires? Perhaps because such a study would yield more differences than it would similarities, particularly when examining the imperial trade policies of the two empires from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century.

For those imperial histories that have attempted such a side-by-side comparison, the so-called Open Door Empire of the United States is depicted as having copied the free-trade imperial policies of its estranged motherland by the turn of the century; these imitative policies reached new Anglo-Saxonist heights following US colonial acquisitions in the Caribbean and the Pacific from the Spanish Empire in 1898, followed closely by the fin-de-siècle establishment of the Anglo-American ‘Great Rapprochement’.[ii]

Gallagher and Robinson’s 1953 ‘imperialism of free trade’ thesis—which explored the informal British Empire that arose following Britain’s unilateral adoption (and at times coercive international implementation) of free-trade policies from the late 1840s to the early 1930s—has played a particularly crucial theoretical role in shaping the historiography of the American Empire. In The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959), William Appleman Williams provided the first iteration of the imitative open-door imperial thesis, wherein he explicitly used the ‘imperialism of free trade’ theory in order to uncover an American informal empire. ‘The Open Door Policy’, Williams asserted, ‘was America’s version of the liberal policy of informal empire or free-trade imperialism’.[iii] The influence of Williams’s provocative thesis led to the creation of the most influential school of US imperial history—the ‘Wisconsin School’—which would continue in its quest to unearth American open-door or free-trade imperialism for decades to come.[iv] As a result, the contrasting ways in which the American Empire grew in the shadow of the British Empire have largely remained hidden. Continue reading “Empire by Imitation?”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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The Mughal emperor Shah Alam hands a scroll to Robert Clive, the governor of Bengal, which transferred tax collecting rights in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company. Illustration: Benjamin West (1738–1820)/British Library

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

From when the Ottoman Empire scrambled for Africa to how to stop current and future wars, 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

The debut of Black Panther in Fantastic Four #52 (left), and a map of the fictional land of Wakanda from Jungle Action #6 (right).

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

From the link between Communism and Pan-Africanism to dancing in wartime, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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

‘Trade wars are good’? 3 past conflicts tell a very different story

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These German steel coils may soon become more expensive for U.S. manufacturers.
AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Marc-William Palen, University of Exeter

President Donald Trump renewed fears of a global trade war after he vowed to slap steep tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel.

The tariffs haven’t even been formally proposed, yet other countries are already threatening countermeasures. The European Union, for example, promised to impose tariffs on iconic American products like Harley-Davidsons, Kentucky bourbon and blue jeans, while China, Australia and Canada all promised a response.

Brushing all that aside, the president tweeted that “trade wars are good.”

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But what exactly is a trade war and what are its consequences?

As a historian of trade, I thought it would be worth recalling some illuminating examples, each of which led to disastrous results. Continue reading “‘Trade wars are good’? 3 past conflicts tell a very different story”