Monthly Archives: July 2017

“Engineering Imperialism, Building Empire”

by Charles Fawell, University of Chicago This post comprises part of our ongoing reflective blogging collaboration with the organisers of the Everyday Empire’s conference.  Our panel examined trans-imperial currents of expertise, technologies, and people. Within this theme, my presentation explored the social worlds of French steamships sailing to and from East Asia. The complexity of these ships, I argued, has been obscured by a whitewashed history of the Age of Steam, in which the lore of globetrotters and the publicity of major navigation companies portrayed ships as spaces of luxury consumption, their rigid hierarchies and logics of segregation seemingly untroubled by life on-board. Resisting the temptation to reify such mythmaking in contemporary historiography and patrimonialisation, I used a single voyage from Marseille to Yokohama in the 1910s, during which ship workers vigorously challenged on-board authorities. Co-opting shipboard rituals and exploiting the vagaries of inter-imperial jurisdiction, the ship’s workers, on whom onward progress depended, threatened to tear down the façade separating the elite world of the passengers from their own. Trans-imperial circulation, I argued, was literally carried on (and within) such steamships, yet, again, mobile colonial elites tended to memorialize only a glossy image of modern steam travel and tranquil journeys. […]

Missing the Target: The UK Scholarly Communications License

This post was co-authored by Karin Wulf and Simon Newman, Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History at the University of Glasgow; Vice President of the Royal Historical Society (RHS) for Publications; co-editor of the RHS’s New Historical Perspectives Open Access monograph series. It originally appeared on the Scholarly Kitchen blog. “One of the most important lessons of the debates and policy shifts around Open Access (OA) has been the hard-won recognition that no one size fits all.  In particular, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) not only have very different requirements and practices, but individual disciplines and fields within disciplines have distinctive research and publication needs. An obvious case was made by art historians who noted that rigid OA requirements would be disastrous for their publication of images that often require specific permissions and licensing. In the arts and humanities we do not own much of the data utilized in our articles, and we can’t license OA to our publications without the consent of multiple rights-owners. The point is valid for any number of scholarly fields in favor of different paths to openness and accessibility…” [read the full post on Scholarly Kitchen here] Our thanks to Scholarly […]

This Autumn: The Modern Invention of “Dynasty”

by Ilya Afanasyev (Birmingham) and Dr. Milinda Banerjee (LMU Munich), Conference Organisers The Modern Invention of Dynasty will be taking place at the University of Birmingham from the 21st-23rd September 2017. The idea for our conference ‘The Modern Invention of Dynasty: A Global Intellectual History, 1500–2000’ germinated in a room of Somerville College, Oxford, through the convergence of two rather dissatisfied minds on a balmy spring afternoon. We were resting after the long and intense conference ‘Dynasty and Dynasticism, 1400–1700’, organised by the Jagiellonians Project in March 2016. While we enjoyed the many rich and diverse papers at the conference, we were both somewhat at our wit’s end about one basic issue. In writing histories of dynasties, were we not putting the cart before the horse: assuming that something existed as a given (‘dynasty’, and the even more abstract ‘dynasticism’), whose history invited constant attention, rather than questioning what this ‘thing’ was in the first place and whether it needed to be a little de-reified. A crucial critical intuition came from the Jagiellonians project itself: already in 2014, the team led by Natalia Nowakowska had realised that while historians tended to take dynasty for granted they almost never defined it […]

Everyday Empires: Descriptive or Analytical Category?

by Dr. Nathan Cardon and Dr. Simon Jackson, University of Birmingham (Conference organisers) On May 25 and 26 2017 the Department of History at the University of Birmingham hosted Everyday Empires: Trans-Imperial Circulations in a Multi-Disciplinary Perspective. Sponsored by Past & Present, the Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures, and the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History, the purpose of the conference was three-fold. First, it set out to improve intellectual engagements between scholars working within particular historiographies of empire, with the goal of promoting greater cross-fertilization of methods and ideas. The second goal was to encourage perspectives that spanned career stages. Accordingly, each panel consisted of a Ph.D. student, an Early Career Researcher, and an established academic, with a view to generating an inclusive conversation that gave equal time to scholars’ research, no matter where they were on their career path. A series of blog posts for Past & Present, co-written by each of the panels, will therefore follow this one, blending the perspectives of more senior and junior researchers. Lastly, and our focus with this post, the conference tested whether an everyday approach to empire worked as an analytical category. Given the range of intellectually stimulating discussion that occurred, it became clear that a focus on the everyday […]

Reflections on “Living Well and Dying Well in the Early Modern World”

by Josh Rhodes (Conference Co-organiser) It’s now three weeks ago that the second annual Centre for Early Modern Studies (CEMS) PGR conference at the University of Exeter welcomed scholars from across the UK and beyond to discuss the varied aspects of life and death in the early modern world. I recently found out (having Googled ‘advice for writing a conference report’) that to achieve maximum impact the standard advice is to publish conference reports within 48 hours of the event. But it was a serendipitous find yesterday, as I was searching for a man named Joseph Croad in the burial registers of Puddletown parish in Dorset (scroll down to find out how I got on), that prompted me to write this report. Perhaps you’re thinking, surely burial registers are suitably morbid to be enough of a reminder of all things #EMLifeDeath? Not so. I was so engrossed in looking through the lists of names for any mention of the surname ‘Croad’, that I didn’t notice the striking mortuary doodles on the page until a colleague pointed them out. The doodles contain classic death symbolism: there are scythes, skulls, skeletons, an hourglass, and a coffin. It so happens then that I’d […]

Beyond the Home: New Histories of Domestic Service

by Dr. Sacha Hepburn (IHR) and Olivia Robinson (Oxford), Conference Organisers Past & Present is pleased to be supporting “Beyond the Home: New Histories of Domestic Service” at the University of Oxford this autumn.  Our conference in Oxford on the 7th and 8th September 2017 will explore the lives and experiences of servants beyond their domestic workplaces. Domestic service, in its various forms, has long provided one of the most significant sources of employment for men, women and children around the world. Existing studies have successfully explored the servant experience in their place of work, yet contributions made by servants outside the home – to social, cultural, economic and political life – have been little explored. Beyond the Home will be an opportunity to explore fresh perspectives on both the history of domestic service and its impact on society at a local and global level. The conference’s 20-minute papers reflect diverse chronologies and geographies. Topics will include, though are not limited to: •    Social lives and sociability •    Writing, painting and creative practices •    Religious affiliations •    Community organisations •    Servants’ own homes and families •    Political activism •    Participation in civil society and worker organisations An aim of the workshop […]