This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Market of Eminou Square and New Mosque Yeni Cami, with store signs in Ottoman Turkish, Armenian, Greek and French, 1884–1900, Sébah & Joaillier. (Pierre de Gigord Collection of Photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. The Getty Research Institute, 96.R.14. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program).

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

From the myth of Brexit as imperial nostalgia to digitizing the Ottoman 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

A prince and attendants visiting a noble yogini at an Ashram. Murshidabad sub-style, c1765. Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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

From the first women of philosophy to how to think about empire, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Top 10 of 2018 – #2 – Amazing new digital archive of political maps for imperial and global historians

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us remember 2018 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

American Bases in the World‘ (1951), French Communist Party. Courtesy of the P.J. Mode Collection, Cornell Library.

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

In case you missed it (I was tweeting about it A LOT last week), Cornell Library’s Digital Collections have just made available an amazing archive – the PJ Mode Collection – consisting of around 800 political maps that should be on the radar of anyone working on imperial and global history. They. Are. Awesome.

Here’s a sampling.


The Whole Story in a Nutshell!’ (1888) – Here’s one of my favorites for a lot of reasons. To give it some context, the so-called Great Debate of 1888 (that year’s presidential election) was centered around the future of US trade policy. The GOP was staunchly protectionist and Anglophobic at this time, and they feared the perceived influence of ‘Free Trade England’ on US politics. British free traders (in particular London’s Cobden Club, featured on the bottom left), were the main targets of paranoid Republican protectionist propaganda. Democratic President Grover Cleveland only added to the conspiracy theories when he filled his cabinet and advisors with US members of the Cobden Club. The pro-Harrison map does a vivid job of illustrating the GOP’s economic nationalism in contrast to Democratic free trade. For more on this, my book, The ‘Conspiracy’ of Free Trade, explores the conspiratorial reception of British free-trade ideas in Gilded Age America.

[continue reading]

Top 10 of 2018 – #6 – Empire by Imitation?

Editor’s Note: In the weeks leading up to the new year, please help us remember 2018 at the Imperial & Global Forum by checking out the past year’s 10 most popular posts.

“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]

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Nur Jahan and Jahangeer by Abdur Rahman Chughtai

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

From India’s dangerous new curriculum to the rise of hipster colonialism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”

Amazing new digital archive of political maps for imperial and global historians

American Bases in the World‘ (1951), French Communist Party. Courtesy of the P.J. Mode Collection, Cornell Library.

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

In case you missed it (I was tweeting about it A LOT last week), Cornell Library’s Digital Collections have just made available an amazing archive – the PJ Mode Collection – consisting of around 800 political maps that should be on the radar of anyone working on imperial and global history. They. Are. Awesome.

Here’s a sampling.


The Whole Story in a Nutshell!’ (1888) – Here’s one of my favorites for a lot of reasons. To give it some context, the so-called Great Debate of 1888 (that year’s presidential election) was centered around the future of US trade policy. The GOP was staunchly protectionist and Anglophobic at this time, and they feared the perceived influence of ‘Free Trade England’ on US politics. British free traders (in particular London’s Cobden Club, featured on the bottom left), were the main targets of paranoid Republican protectionist propaganda. Democratic President Grover Cleveland only added to the conspiracy theories when he filled his cabinet and advisors with US members of the Cobden Club. The pro-Harrison map does a vivid job of illustrating the GOP’s economic nationalism in contrast to Democratic free trade. For more on this, my book, The ‘Conspiracy’ of Free Trade, explores the conspiratorial reception of British free-trade ideas in Gilded Age America.

Continue reading “Amazing new digital archive of political maps for imperial and global historians”

This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

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

From America’s lost “Europe First” strategy to the Philippines’s Jewish refugees, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history. Continue reading “This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History”