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If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
The mid-1980s saw the launch of the ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series. As outlined by the general editor, John M. MacKenzie, the main concept behind this has been that ‘imperialism as a cultural phenomenon has as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies’.
Tijl Vanneste has written an important book about the functioning of commercial networks during the mid 18th century. The author goes beyond national boundaries, as he carefully analyzes how a cross-cultural, cross-religious, and cross-gender diamond merchant network operated between the cities of Antwerp, London, Amsterdam and Lisbon.
In the autumn of 2011 the near-simultaneous publication of a number of books on the British Empire promised to add fresh momentum to the debate, if debate is the word, on the memories – or lack of them – that the British people currently carry for their empire.(1) Jeremy Paxman, with Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British, promised a robust, ‘clear-e
Here is a history of verve, valour and vignettes with broad and exciting perspectives that make it wonderfully unfashionable and provocatively readable with the constant eminence of its scholarship and style.
The Britannic Vision – Historians and the Making of the British Commonwealth of Nations, 1907-48 / William David McIntyre
The opening words of the preface to McIntyre’s scholarly book are that it ‘looks at the role historians played in a forgotten act in one of the grand dramas of modern history’.
Those disinclined to judge their book by its cover will be pleased to discover that the image adorning the latest volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire (OHBE) series bears little relation to its contents. Showing the famous long bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, it presents the imperial British in exemplary (if not stereotypical) terms.
In 2001, Frederick Cooper wrote that ‘globalization talk is influential – and deeply misleading – for assuming coherence and direction instead of probing causes and processes’.(1) Burbank and Cooper heed this warning and focus very clearly and ably on the causes and processes of global empire building in this new book.
The New Imperial Histories Reader is part of a series of history readers aimed at the undergraduate/ postgraduate market that have been published by Routledge over the past decade.
How do we conceptualise the African diaspora? The forced migration through the slave trade and its impact on the cultures of origin that slaves brought with them to the Americas has constituted an important area of academic research since the pioneering work of Melville Herskovits and Roger Bastide.