The first principle of understanding history, I was taught, is to sympathize with the historical actors, to immerse oneself in their context and perspective.(1) Otherwise, history becomes a fabricated reconstruction – more about the writer's ideology than the events of the past.
At the conclusion of her history of Marian devotion, Mother of God, Miri Rubin states, ‘For in woman’s capacity to act as a generous host, to contain a body in her body, there is an act of tremendous hospitality’ (p. 424).
Confucius once remarked that rulers need three resources: weapons, food and trust. The ruler who cannot have all three should give up weapons first, then food, but should hold on to trust at all costs: 'without trust we cannot stand'.(1) Machiavelli disagreed.
Ernest Gellner, who died on 5 November 1995, was one of the great polymaths of the century. Many of his twenty books were concerned with philosophy, sociology and anthropology. Yet at the core of his work was an historical question.
As the title of the book suggests, Geographies of Empire covers the period roughly from the beginning of the ‘scramble for Africa’ – following the British invasion of Egypt in 1882 – to the year by which many of the territories formerly acquired by European colonial powers had been lost or given up.
Among the challenges that define teaching the history of Britain to undergraduates, those presented by national context are perhaps the most complex.
Whose culture, and more specifically whose objects, are the central questions in these two very different books. In modern Western legal systems, objects can have only one owner, though that owner may be a corporate or collective body. But what does it mean for a state or nation or community to own an object, and what should we make of claims to hold objects in trust for all humanity?
As the editors’ introduction notes, this is the first of two volumes examining the subject of children in slavery, in a pioneering attempt to expose at least part of an area that ‘has only recently become the focus of academic research’ (p. 1).
Breakfasting in bed, Maynard Keynes recalled the immense scope of the laissez-faire world of the Pax Britannica at its zenith in the summer of 1914. ‘The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his tea … the various products of the whole earth, in such quantities as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery at his doorstep; he could ...
Marcel van der Linden’s book ‘Workers of the World: Essays toward a Global Labor History’ is an encyclopaedic, thought provoking, tour de force on the field of labour relations that scholars from different disciplines should read (and possibly internalise).