Monthly Archives: November 2014

Prize winning articles

Congratulations to our recent prize winning authors!   Margaret Chowning’s article ‘The Catholic Church and the Ladies of the Vela Perpetua: Gender and Devotional Change in Nineteenth-Century Mexico‘, from no. 221 (Nov 2013), has won the Latin American Studies Association prize for best social science article on Mexico   Garthine Walker’s article ‘Rape, Acquittal and Culpability in Popular Crime Reports in England, c.1670-c.1750‘, from no. 220 (August 2013) has won the 2014 Sutherland Prize of the American Society for Legal History   We are very proud of them!

Abolishing the Slave Trade: Sierra Leone and British Abolitionism

guest post by Padraic Scanlan read Padraic’s article in the November issue The history of slavery and abolition is not a treasury of fables and moral lessons. The abolition of the British slave trade in 1807, and then the emancipation of slaves in British colonies in 1833, were the two obvious first steps in undoing the fiction that human beings can be property. Celebrating Britain’s ‘achievement’ in divesting itself from a centuries-long, genocidal, world-historically evil system of labour exploitation (after already industrialising in part thanks to its profits) seems to me like a perverse interpretation of the history of the end of the British slave trade. And yet, measuring ‘how moral’ British abolitionism was continues to be a live issue. The question, to my mind, isn’t whether or not it was ‘right’ to abolish the slave trade – the answer to that is obvious – but what it meant, in practice, to do the grueling, incremental work of stopping slave ships and prosecuting slave traders, and how those practices affected the lives of former slaves.   In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Sierra Leone was at the centre of British efforts to end the slave trade, and to ‘rehabilitate’ […]

The Other Modern Empire

guest post by Jordan Sand read Jordan’s review article A Japanese Prime Minister visits Yasukuni, the country’s military shrine, and Chinese and Korean leaders express outrage. Korean-Americans build a memorial to the so-called “comfort women,” forced to serve as prostitutes for the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II, and Japanese politicians protest. In an on-line course at MIT, a historian of Japan posts a reproduction of a woodblock print depicting Japanese soldiers beheading POWs in the first Sino-Japanese War and sparks protests from Chinese students that make front-page news. All of these events of recent years show the long shadow of Japanese imperialism falling on events in the present.   The East Asian history wars are widely known. Less noted, however, is that since the late twentieth century, alongside continued examination of modern Japan’s military imperialism, a quiet revolution has taken place in the study of modern Japan’s empire. Whereas previous Anglophone historiography had treated Japanese imperialism primarily in the context of what was called, from a U.S.-centric perspective, the “road to Pearl Harbor,” historians are increasingly delving into the Japanese colonial archive to chart more than militarism. They focused first on the structures of Japanese colonial rule, then […]