Monthly Archives: September 2023

New Virtual Issue: “Languages of History, Histories of Language”

by the Past & Present editorial team Past & Present’s latest virtual issue “Languages of History, Histories of Language” edited by Dr. John Gallagher (University of Leeds) and Dr. Purba Hossain (Christ’s College, Cambridge) has been published. It stems from an online Past and Present Society sponsored round table on ‘New Histories of Language’ – held in the summer of 2021 – which was convened by Dr. Gallagher and Dr. Hossain. The virtual issue comprises ten articles published in Past & Present over the decades which focus on language as a means of exploring and understanding the past, as well as an introductory historiographical essay “Languages of History, Histories of Language” by Dr. Gallagher and Dr. Hossain which contextualises and comments upon the articles they have selected. All of the articles from the journal’s back issues are currently free to read. “Languages of History, Histories of Language” may be read here.

Joshua Ehrlich Wins An Urban History Association Article Prize

by the Past & Present editorial team Past & Present was pleased to learn that Dr. Joshua Ehrlich (Unversity of Macau) has been awarded the 2023 Urban History Association Arnold Hirsch Award for Best Article in a Scholarly Journal. The prize (also awarded this year to Dr. Todd M. Michney) was awarded for Dr. Ehrlich’s article in Past & Present No. 257 (November 2022) “The Meanings of a Port City Boundary: Calcutta’s Maratha Ditch, c.1700–1950” The prize committee’s citation reads: “Ehrlich’s article provides a rich and nuanced examination of the history of Calcutta’s Maratha Ditch and paints a vivid picture of how physical boundaries play a profound role in shaping socio-political landscapes by encapsulating a city’s historical, political, and social evolution. Ehrlich shows how the ditch’s history directly relates to shifts in British colonial ambitions, negotiations with regional powers, and the emergence of Calcutta as a global metropolis. The ditch’s physical form, from a defensive structure to a boulevard, represents not only changing urban planning but also local political and societal dynamics. Through meticulous research, Ehrlich demonstrates that the history of the ditch represents a complex interplay between sovereignty, territorial expansion, and symbolic meaning-making, dispelling the notion of port cities […]

Reflections on “Classics and Italian Colonialism”

by Dr. Samuel Agbamu (University of Reading) The post below originally appeared on the blog of the University of Reading Classics Department, published on 14/07/2023. It is reproduced with the permission of the author. Rome is a city steeped in the history of empire. Few tourists will fail to visit any number of the imposing remains of the Rome of the Caesars, be it the Colosseum, Pantheon, or the Forum. Yet the imperial history of Rome did not end with the putative fall of the Western Roman Empire, whenever we might date that, nor with Charles V’s sack of Rome in 1527, nor even with the incorporation of Rome into the Kingdom of Italy in 1870. Of the major European imperial powers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Italy stands out as perhaps the least discussed, either inside or outside Italy, and one of the least understood. Because of its easy association with the Fascist regime, which held power from 1922 to 1943, and the invasion of Ethiopia launched by Mussolini in 1935, the legacy of modern Italian imperialism is frequently subsumed into the question of Fascism. Yet Italy pursued an imperial agenda almost at the same time as being […]

Reflections Upon Organise! Organise! Organise! Collective Action, Associational Culture and the Politics of Organisation in Britain and Ireland, c.1790-1914

by Isaiah Silvers (University of Durham) In the question-and-answer period of an afternoon panel on ‘Politics of association’ at the Organise! Organise! Organise! conference, presenters Francis Boorman, Dan Weinbren, and Graeme Morton were asked about the relationship between associational cultures and nineteenth-century democratisation in Britain. Boorman elegantly summarised an impasse between two common historiographical positions: that habits and methods of democracy were seeded in nineteenth-century voluntary associations and slowly filtered into popular politics; or alternatively that associational culture was a sphere in which the unenfranchised pursued their own democratic practices in response to their exclusion from the political realm. Underlying both positions is the assumption that voluntary associations had an inherent affinity with political democracy due to their participatory structures. Dan Weinbren’s paper on friendly societies and the performance of democratic politics argued most forcefully in favour of this affinity. By his reading, these societies’ rituals, dramatic performances, and group governance expressed a common notion of democracy based on ‘independent brotherhood,’ which familiarised those unable to vote with both democratic mythmaking and democratic process. Yet several papers at the Organise! conference prompted a potential challenge to the assumption of an underlying link between associational cultures and democratic politics. In her […]