'Geography is about maps, History about chaps': a tired cliché, of course, though it tells us something about the ways in which disciplinary boundaries were constructed during the relatively recent past. Few historians today would make such a facile claim, if only because of the absurdity of the notion that only 'chaps' make history.
Sometimes you get lucky when you publish a book. Matthew Mulcahy's intriguing and well-written analysis of the cultural impact of hurricanes in the plantation regions of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British America came out at an extremely apposite time for an academic publication, a month or so after one of the biggest natural disasters in American history.
I reviewed R. J. P. Kain and R. R.
'From the Sea of Perpetual Gloom to the Holiday Cruise'
The Pacific forms part of the series ‘Seas in History’ edited by the late Geoffrey Scammell. Already published are the volumes about the Atlantic, the Baltic and North Seas and the Indian Ocean. The historiography of seas and oceans has an illustrious tradition (Fernand Braudel, Kirti Chaudhuri, O. H. K. Spate, J. H.
There can surely have been few other books in Asian Studies and certainly not in South East Asian Studies in recent years that have been as widely anticipated as James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Southeast Asia (Yale University Press, 2009).
I recall a discussion with my supervisor at the outset of my postgraduate research about whether I should use a database to organise my findings. I was nudged not to follow in her Linnaean footsteps with an index card system. Her tale of laying out thousands of cards on her office floor and connecting them with lengths of coloured string in order to visualise linkages drove the point home.
A biography conventionally covers a whole life and the term is now popular with publishers as a substitute for the word history. We see it applied in recent titles to a city, a river, a building and now an organisation.
Since the late 19th century Japan has been in a constant state of geographical flux that shows no sign of abating even today.
How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.