Monthly Archives: October 2020

Networks and blocs: metahistorical reflections

by Dr. Peter Hill (Northumbria University) Introduction The reflections that follow are frankly metahistorical. I am fully conscious of the fact that, to be more than interesting speculations, they need to be dragged back into a fuller contact with empirical reality. But to me the most stimulating aspect of the discussion group in which they originated, and the aspect which marked this off most clearly from most discussions among historians, was precisely its meta-historical dimension. This, I think, has enabled to see, and question, some of the shapes within which our more empirical work generally moves – and also to play, speculatively, with these shapes. These reflections may still be read, of course, as presumptuous, irrelevant, or both. Many of the problems I point to are old news, and many of the things I propose historians have been doing, in empirical practice, for a long time. But I believe that an attention to the meta-historical can help to clarify our purposes as historians, and I hope that these suggestions will stimulate, if they do not convince. I. Geography One of the starting-points of the ‘Political Economy and Culture’ reading group was an earlier, now often forgotten and rather unfashionable, set […]

The Government of Culture

by Dr. Chihab El Khachab (King’s College, Cambridge) How can we integrate analyses of ‘cultural’ phenomena within a broader set of political and economic relations? Peter Hill and I returned to this question time and again during our long conversations prior to the creation of the Political Economy and Culture group. Based on our different research materials and methods, we both came up with different answers. Working on nineteenth-century Arabic literature, Peter tried to connect texts with the political and economic circumstances of their writers: to what extent did form and content relate to the transformations of capitalism? What difference did it make to integrate an analysis of capitalist production into textual interpretation? Working with living cultural producers in the contemporary Egyptian film industry, on my part, I had a different way to connect the visible labour of filmmaking with hierarchies of creative decision-making, cash flows, and interactions with state agents. One can construct a model of the industry’s political economy out of these embodied relationships in a way that is unreachable through texts. In August 2018, I went to Cairo intent on beginning a new project about bureaucratic authority in Egypt. I wanted to understand why the state’s bureaucracy […]

Diya Gupta Joins the Royal Historical Society as Their Past & Present Fellow: Race, Ethnicity & Equality in History Fellow 2020-22

Received from the Royal Historical Society The post below originally appeared on the Royal Historical Society website – it is reproduced with permission The RHS is delighted to welcome Dr Diya Gupta as our new Past & Present Fellow: Race, Ethnicity & Equality in History. Dr Gupta will work with the Royal Historical Society and the Institute for Historical Research to develop and take forward the work of the RHS Race, Ethnicity & Equality Working Group (REEWG), and will combine this with developing her own research interests and her first book, based on her doctoral research. Diya completed her PhD in 2019 at King’s College London, where she studied Indian experiences and literature of the Second World War. In her work, alongside colonial photographs, she analyses letters, memoirs, political philosophy and literary texts in English and Indian languages to reveal the intensity and influence of Indian war emotions. Dr Gupta takes over from the previous Past & Present Fellow, Dr Shahmima Akhtar, who has taken up a permanent lectureship at Royal Holloway, University of London. We wish Dr Akhtar all the best in her new position, and many thanks for all her work at the RHS and IHR. We thank the Past & […]

“Decolonisation is also a movement of money” – Interview with Past & Present Author Vanessa Ogle

by the Past & Present editorial team Dr. Vanessa Ogle (University of California, Berkeley) whose article “‘Funk Money’: The End of Empires, The Expansion of Tax Havens, and Decolonization as an Economic and Financial Event” is currently avaliable on advanced access and will be published in the November 2020 edition of Past & Present, has been interviewed by International Politics and Society. See a short snippet of their interview below, and visit their site to read the full piece. Q. When we hear “decolonisation”, we may first think of mass protests, independence movements, armed conflict, racism, migration and so on. But you attempt to reconceptualise it as an economic and financial event that led to the expansion and consolidation of tax havens. How did you come to research that and why is it important? A. I came across the fact that people, upon leaving the colonies, sent money to tax havens when I was working on a broader book project on the history of the offshore world, offshore finance and tax havens. And this history goes back much further. It basically starts in the late 19th century. Back then, tax havens such as Switzerland and certain US States really come into […]