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It has become commonplace for historians to refer to 18th-century England’s ‘consumer revolution’. Empire, international trade and later industrialisation brought goods to English homes in ever greater numbers and variety. Debate continues, however, on the extent of participation in this revolution.
It is hard to tell a non-deterministic story about the shift from early modern to modern economic practices: the terms we use (‘modernity’, ‘capitalism’, ‘economic’), the questions we ask, and the conclusions we draw are all inevitably weighed down by what we think or know about economic life today.
The title of A History of Borno, Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State has two ambiguities. Situated in the Sahel, Borno did not span the Sahara. It was Trans-Saharan by being linked culturally and economically to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, rather than to the Atlantic. Whether the failing state is Nigeria or Borno is also unclear.
In Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and San Francisco Bay Area, historian Peter Cole compares the union histories of two port cities, the militant struggles of dockworkers against racial discrimination, their response to technology (in the form of containerisation),
It is an ambitious book that would try to cover the Conquest of Mexico, the rise and fall of the country’s hacienda system, the emergence of the Virgen de Guadalupe, the intricacies of Emiliano Zapata’s role in the Mexican Revolution, and the exodus of women from rural regions in the mid-1960s to look for work as ‘household help’ in the nation’s fast-growing capital city.
For almost 30 years David Edgerton has produced a series of well-researched and ground-breaking revisionist accounts of this country's recent past, which have exposed the inadequacies and weaknesses of 'declinism' as an explanation of Britain's changing domestic and international experience since 1900.
Daniel Livesay’s first monograph comes at an opportune moment. With the recent release of digital projects such as the University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slaves in Britain database, historical attention has focused in on the lives of people of colour in early modern Britain.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Jordan Landes talks to Joanna Cohen about her new book and the role and nature of the consumer in the US throughout the nineteenth century.
Joanna Cohen is a Senior Lecturer in American History at Queen Mary University of London.
In 1833, after centuries of resistance and rebellion by enslaved people, decades of popularly-mobilized antislavery protests, and years of economic struggle on colonial plantations, England’s Parliament initiated the process of slave emancipation in the British Empire.
Since London’s Great Exhibition of 1851, world’s fairs and international expositions have been an important global cultural phenomenon that has defined progress and modernity for hundreds of millions of visitors.