Across the 17th century, more than 350,000 English people went to America. Yet many, if not most of those who went brought with them a keen sense of their bringing ‘Englishness’ with them, rather than transforming into ‘Americans’. Emigrants travelled to the New World for a variety of reasons.
There were times during the resurgence of the economic crisis in 2015 when it seemed as if ‘Greek-bashing’ had become a pan-European pastime.
Somewhat late in the day, Tate Britain has got around to an exhibition about the British Empire and its legacies.
Imagine the surprise of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft when, on a humid July day in 1846, he picked up a copy of the Albany Argus, a New York state Democratic Party newspaper, only to learn that he had been murdered. The paper carried an obituary which reported that Schoolcraft had been shot in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan by a ‘half breed’ named John Tanner.
Knowledge is power. Over the last three decades this old aphorism of political philosophy has been central to the study of colonialism in history, anthropology, and literary and cultural post-colonial studies. Revised and re-launched in social theory by Michel Foucault, the theme gained momentum after the publication of Edward Said’s highly influential book, Orientalism, in 1978.
In 1775, Samuel Johnson had already identified the central paradox of United States history. He notoriously challenged British readers to explain why ‘we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes’. Generations of historians have tried to answer that question. How could a movement espousing belief in liberty include so many slaveholders?
In his 2013 book, The Enlightenment: And Why It Still Matters, Anthony Pagden devoted a chapter to the European ‘discovery’ of ‘man in nature’, partly through their study of the individual men whom French and British explorers brought back from their voyages to the South Pacific.
A closer look at the rhetoric surrounding the current Ukrainian-Russian conflict reveals it is as much about past as about the present or future. Not only have both sides regularly resorted to historical arguments, turning the past into yet another battleground in a ‘hybrid war’, but outside observers also look to the past in search for answers and explanations.
In The Ethnographic State: France and the Invention of Moroccan Islam, Edmund Burke does the important work of historicizing colonial-era research on Morocco and Moroccans.
One of the rare occasions on which a French Overseas Department has ever made both national and international headlines occurred in March and April 2017 when, over the course of one turbulent month, demonstrators filled the streets in towns in Guyane, French South America.