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.
Russia’s tsars ruled over more Muslims than any other empire in the world.
Into the relatively small pond of English-language work on the early modern Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Finnish historian Miia Ijäs has launched a monograph, based on her doctoral dissertation, which will be received with interest.
Jeffrey James Byrne’s monograph takes its title from an oft-cited quote by Amílcar Cabral, a leading figure in the fight against Portuguese colonial rule in Africa: ‘Christians go to the Vatican, Muslims go to Mecca, revolutionaries go to Algiers’.
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?
David Brundage’s Irish Nationalists in America employs no sleight of hand in its title. It is a short, well-crafted new survey of Irish nationalists in the United States from the late 18th century to the close of the 20th that is more than the sum of its parts.
Despite their presence in the popular imagination and their undoubted importance in the narrative of medieval history, the Crusades have for a long time sat apart from mainstream medieval historiography. Traditionally, the Crusades themselves are as peripheral in the minds of historians of Europe as they were geographically.
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.
For many of us, the ongoing carnage in Syria is a self-evident humanitarian crisis. We do not need to be convinced that the children drowning at sea, the women and men, young and old, begging for entry into any country that will accept them are worthy of our help.
Samuel Marsden was a Yorkshireman of humble origins (as his detractors liked to point out). After a brief spell at Cambridge, in 1793 he was appointed the second official Anglican chaplain in the recently established convict colony of New South Wales. In 1814, he took the Gospel to New Zealand.