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Welcome to the Toynbee Prize Foundation

The Foundation seeks to promote scholarly engagement with global history through several activities. Foremost among these is the Toynbee Prize, an award granted every other year to recognize outstanding work in global history. As an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, the Foundation sponsors one session at the Association’s annual meeting. In the years in which the Prize is awarded, the recipient presents a lecture. In alternate years, the Foundation sponsors a session on global history.

A Genealogy of a Non-Event: An Interview with Seth Anziska

Seth Anziska, Mohamed S. Farsi-Polonsky Lecturer in Jewish-Muslim Relations, University College London. Credit: Helen Murray.

In Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo (Princeton University Press, 2018), Seth Anziska throws new light on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the unfulfilled Palestinian quest for statehood. The Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement brokered by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 has long been hailed as a diplomatic triumph that set the Middle East on a path toward peace. However, drawing on newly available sources in the United States and Israel, as well as international collections, Anziska argues that the Camp David Accords actually came at the expense of Palestinians. Refusing to recognize the Palestinians as a nation deserving of the right to collective self-determination, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin introduced the concept of limited “autonomy” for the “Arab inhabitants” of the West Bank and Gaza. Begin’s formulation flew in the face of the stated position of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. And yet both he and Carter accepted it for the sake of securing Israeli-Egyptian peace. As Anziska demonstrates, the autonomy model proffered by Begin at Camp David would cast a long shadow over future Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, serving as the basis of the Oslo Accords negotiated in 1993 and continuing to inform the role of the Palestinian Authority today. Anziska documents this history of roads not taken, offering a “genealogy of a non-event”—the prevention of Palestinian sovereignty.

In the following interview, Anziska and I discuss a range of issues, from the current Israeli political climate and the future of the Palestinian national movement, to the methodological challenges confronting historians of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the stakes of writing history that is informed by personal experience.

Daniel Chardell

Credit: Princeton University Press.

What We’re Reading This Week

JOSEPH SATISH Nazimuddin Siddiqui, “The Discourse of Doubt: Understanding the Crisis of Citizenship in Assam,” Economic & Political Weekly. Sagar Dhara, “Indian Environmental Movements: Why They Failed or Succeeded, and the Challenges Ahead,” Ecologise. Ramachandra Guha, “The Historian and Chauvinism,” The India Forum. CHRIS SZABLA Rudi Batzell, “Guns Made the State, and the State Made…

Histories of the Big and Small: An Interview with Mark Mazower

Mark Mazower, Columbia University

As the discipline of history continues to expand beyond the powerful few, historians face the challenges that come with trying to uncover and illuminate the experiences of the powerless. The great upheavals of the twentieth century affected millions of people around the globe, but history’s traditional tools seem insufficient in the face of so many tangled stories. Addressing this problem requires a re-examination of the role of place, people, and power in the telling of history.

In What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home (New York: Other Press, 2017), Mark Mazower, Professor of History at Columbia University, delves into the history of his own family, exploring his father’s and grandfather’s paths through the turbulent twentieth century. In the course of this exploration, Mazower touches on questions of identity and place, expanding on similar themes developed in his work on the history of Greece, Europe, and the world in the twentieth century.

Here, Mark Mazower discusses the experience of telling a personal narrative in a historical context, the struggles and opportunities presented by writing history with a focus on nations and people outside of the immediate center of power, and the importance of revisiting early twentieth-century political discussions in our current moment.

Natalie Behrends (New York University)

What We’re Reading This Week

MEGHNA CHAUDHURI

Daniel Immerwahr, “How the US Had Hidden its Empire,” The Guardian.

Greg Grandin, “What’s at Stake in Venezuela?,” London Review of Books.

Alexander Williams, “The Treason Trial of Netaji That Never Happened,” The Wire.

MARTIN CREVIER

Charlotte Lydia Riley, “The People’s University,” Tribune.

Pankaj Mishra, “See the Iranian Revolution as Iranians Do,” Bloomberg Opinion.

Eric Alterman, “The Decline of Historical Thinking,” The New Yorker.

DEXTER GOVAN

Joanna Fuertes-Knight, “Attacks on the Media Show Duterte’s Philippines is Heading for Despotism,” The Guardian.

Martin Fletcher, “The Stains of Bloody Sunday,” New Statesman.

Beth Bhargava, “Fossil Fuels and the Corporate Takeover of Higher Education,” New Socialist.

COLLIN BERNARD

Adam Tooze, “Everything You Know About Global Order is Wrong,” FP.

Adom Getachew, “When Jamaica Led the Postcolonial Fight Against Exploitation,” Boston Review.

Adam Waters & E.J. Dionne, “Is Anti-Intellectualism Ever Good for Democracy?,” Dissent.

What We’re Reading This Week

Dáil Éireann (1921), Blog Imperial & Global Forum.

SEAN PHILLIPS

Christian Mueller, “The Invention of the Silk Road,” Asia Dialogue.

Eric Alterman, “The Decline of Historical Thinking,” The New Yorker.

Jill Lepore, “A New Americanism: Why a Nation Needs a National Story,” Foreign Affairs.

Brahma Chellaney, “The Shackles of History in a Democracy,” The Japan Times.

NATALIE BEHRENDS

Bill McKibben, “The Making of Our Polluted Age,” The Nation.

Wilson Chacko Jacob, “Essential Readings: Gender and Empire,” Jadaliyya.

Colin Dickey, “Companion and Commodity: The Victorian Dog,” LA Review of Books.

Brian Boeck, “Stalin’s Scheherazade,” Longreads.

YEHOR BRAILIAN

Livia Gershon, “How Chocolate Came to Europe,” JSTOR Daily.

Esme Cleall, “Missing Links: The Victorian Freak Show,” History Today.

Darragh Gannon, “January 1919: The Irish Republic, the League of Nations, and a New World Order,” Blog Imperial & Global Forum.

The Age of Questions: An Interview with Holly Case

“The book’s cover is based loosely on a patch of wallpaper in a rented apartment. While thinking about the age of questions and staring at the wallpaper, the design began to suggest the book’s structure. As the several threads come together and push apart, sometimes the light makes the pattern they describe flash out all the more clearly. And how apt that it’s wallpaper, because the idea was to see the patterns that emerge after staring long and hard at something that otherwise appears only as background.” –Holly Case

In The Age of Questions (Princeton University Press, 2018), historian Holly Case (Brown University) presents seven interpretations of the many “questions” of the long nineteenth century—the Eastern, Social, Woman, American, Jewish, Polish, Bullion, and Tuberculosis Questions, among others.

Previous historians have questioned the reality of several such “x questions,” demonstrating, for example, how bourgeois nationalists sought to impose the categories of nation on people often unaccustomed or resistant to thinking in such terms. Holly Case sets herself a more ambitious task. She seeks to understand why nineteenth-century actors frequently framed political matters as “x questions”, what thinking in “x questions” served to do and collectively inclined toward, and how the many “x questions” were entangled across regions and domains of life.

Case’s work enables us to more forthrightly confront how current questions, scholarly and popular, are interpolated with the “x questions” of the long nineteenth century. In offering half a dozen distinct interpretations, internally coherent yet sometimes conflicting, she introduces a novel mode of writing history. It is a book ideally composed to provoke questions and invite common debate in today’s “age of fracture.”

Liat Spiro (Harvard University/College of the Holy Cross)

What We’re Reading This Week

Museum of Black Civilizations, Dakar, Senegal.

JOSHUA MILSTEIN

Bart Zantvoort, “On Hartmut Rosa and the Acceleration of Social Change in Modernity,” JHIBlog.

Ahmed Elsayed, “The Battle over the Memory of Egypt’s Revolution,” OpenDemocracy.

JAMES PARKER

Greg Grandin and Elizabeth Oglesby, “Washington Trained Guatemala’s Killers for Decades,” The Nation.

Rosa Schwartzburg and Imre Szijarto, “The Ghosts of a Fascist Past,” Jacobin.

Ciku Kimeria, “Dakar’s Museum of Black Civilizations is a Vital Step for a People Reclaiming Their History,” Quartz Africa.

TIGER ZHIFU LI

Matthew Keough, “AHA Member Spotlight: Vincent Leung,” Perspectives on History.

Justin Parkinson, “Can Anyone ‘Own’ the Moon?,” BBC News.

Kate Bagnall, “Were Chinese Women Naturalized in British Columbia?,” Blog The Tiger’s Mouth.

What We’re Reading This Week

Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, 1830. Source: Musée du Louvre, Paris.

MEGHNA CHAUDHURI

Alf Gunvald Nilsen, ‘How Can We Understand India’s Agrarian Struggle Beyond “Modi Sarkar Murdabad”?,’ EPW.

‘What Europeans Talk About When They Talk About Brexit,’ London Review of Books.

Peter Baker, ‘”We The People”: The Battle to Define Populism,’ The Guardian.

Gautam Bhatia, ‘ICLP Round Table: Oranit Shani’s “How India Became Democratic” – I: Laying the Foundations,’ Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy.

COLLIN BERNARD

Adam Tooze, ‘Framing Crashed (8) – Provincializing Europe?,’ Blog Adam Tooze.

David Bell, ‘The Many Lives of Liberalism,’ The New York Review of Books.

Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer, ‘Have We had Enough of the Imperial Presidency Yet?,’ The New York Times.

Erin Bartram, ‘How Ph.D.s Romanticize the “Regular” Job Market,’ The Chronicle of Higher Education.

ADEN KNAAP

Gurminder K. Bhambra, ‘Brexit, Empire, and Decolonization,’ History Workshop.

Jon Piccini, ‘A White Working Man’s Country,’ Flood Media.

Daniel Denvir and Melinda Cooper, ‘Family Values with Melinda Cooper,’ The Dig.

Jeanne Morefield, ‘Trump’s Foreign Policy Isn’t the Problem,’ Boston Review.

Gil Rubin, ‘Beyond the Zionist Nation-State,’ Tablet.

How Do We Teach Global History? A Toynbee Prize Conversation

In this new feature for the Toynbee Prize Blog, we’ve invited five academics, representing a variety of institutions around the world, to reflect upon their experiences in designing and delivering courses to undergraduate and graduate students in global history.

What are the current challenges for teaching global history? What materials or techniques have proven effective? What are the pedagogical implications of these approaches? These are just some of the issues we will explore in an open, frank exchange of ideas.

We hope reflecting upon the pedagogy of global history will prove of use to our wider readership as we consider how the subject may be taught going forward.

Process: We’ve asked respondents to answer five broad questions. Once all responses were received, the editor shared the responses amongst the participants, inviting comment and re-appraisal of responses. These further responses were then lightly copy-edited before publication.

Participants:

Dr Qiao Yu (Capital Normal University Beijing)

Dr Philippa Hetherington (University College London)

Dr João Júlio Gomes dos Santos Júnior (Universidade Estadual do Ceará)

Dr Steffen Rimner (Utrecht University)

Sean Phillips (University of Oxford)

What We’re Reading This Week

United Nations Social Committee chair Eleanor Roosevelt (right) with colleagues of Venezuela.

NATALIE BEHRENDS

Danielle Jackson, ‘Memory and the Lost Cause,’ Longreads.

Peter Brown, ‘Between Two Empires,’ The New York Review of Books.

Daniel Rodgers, ‘The Uses and Abuses of “Neoliberalism”,’ Dissent.

Daniel Stolz, ‘The Lighthouse and the Observatory,’ Jadaliyya.

YEHOR BRAILIAN

Santanu Das, ‘Indians in World War One,’ Historyextra.

Livia Gershon, ‘What Does History Smell Like,’ JSTOR Daily.

‘Why do the British Know so Little about Irish History?,’ History Today.

BOYD VAN DIJK

Arundhati Roy and Avni Sejpal, ‘How to Think About Empire,’ Boston Review.

Alex Shams, ‘The Weaponization of Nostalgia,’ Ajam Media Collective.

Robert Zaretsky, ‘Michel Houellebecq Hated Europe Before You Did,’ Foreign Policy.

Yehudah Mirsky, ‘The End of the World That 1948 Made,’ Tablet.