This Week’s Top Picks in Imperial & Global History

Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean (catalogue reference: FCO 158/6)
Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean (catalogue reference: FCO 158/6). National Archives.

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

From the Enlightenment’s decolonial future to debating the new history of capitalism, here are this week’s top picks in imperial and global history.

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

Connecting Empires – A Centre Talk by Richard Drayton This Wednesday

ExeterRobert Fletcher
University of Exeter
Follow on Twitter @rsgfletcher

Identifying the differences between empires can improve our understanding of the phenomenon of imperialism, and shed new light on respective experiences of empire. But the emergent similarities are no less compelling, and prompt us to re-examine familiar notions of competition, conflict and ‘Scrambles’ between hostile imperial powers.

One of the issues of great interest to us at the Exeter Centre for Imperial and Global history is how far imperial culture should be seen as inherently transnational, permeating not only the border between ‘metropole’ and ‘periphery’, but also the boundaries between empire-builders themselves. Where and why were practices and ideas formed in dialogue between imperial actors, and what do we stand to gain by considering this a form of ‘co-imperialism’?

draytonThis Wednesday we’re excited to welcome Professor Richard Drayton (King’s College London) to Exeter to talk on the subject of ‘Masked Condominia: Pan-European Collaboration in the History of Imperialism, c. 1500 to the present’. Richard sets out the problem as follows: Continue reading “Connecting Empires – A Centre Talk by Richard Drayton This Wednesday”

What the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is Hiding in its Secret Archive

FCO archives in Hanslope Park – Katie Engelhart, Vice Magazine.

Richard Overy

Following a meeting last month with representatives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Exeter Professor Richard Overy reports on the status of over 1 million secret files that the FCO has long kept hidden from the public. What is in the files? Will they be made available? If so, when? As Prof. Overy puts it, the situation remains ‘a rather gloomy one’. The Forum has previously reported on the secret archive’s implications for the history of decolonisation. Katie Engelhart (@katieengelhart), James Renton (@RentonJE, #secretarchive), Richard Overy, and Richard Drayton, among others, continue to keep us informed as events unfold.

The meeting was called by the FCO to inform interested academics and archivists about the current position of the so-called ‘Special Collections’ still held in the Foreign Office archives. The object was to gather views about what priority should be given to particular collections and to give a detailed breakdown of the current programme for releasing material to The National Archives. Around 60 people were in attendance with a panel of six experts, including representatives from TNA and the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on archives.

The following points summarize the information that was given at the meeting: Continue reading “What the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is Hiding in its Secret Archive”

Covering Up the Dark Side of Decolonisation

Gareth Curless

Historians of empire have long suspected that documents from the colonies were transferred back to Britain during the last days of imperial rule, only never to enter into the public domain. It was no small surprise therefore when in April 2011 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), under pressure from a high court judge, admitted that it had a secret archive of nearly 9,000 files from 37 colonies. Perhaps the biggest surprise from the ruling was how easy it was for the FCO to keep these documents hidden from historians for so long. Continue reading “Covering Up the Dark Side of Decolonisation”