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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.

What We’re Reading This Week

Natalie Behrends Nara Schoenberg, “‘It’s a woman. It’s not Pulaski,’” Chicago Tribune Mark Ellis, “The Kaiser’s Trial,” LA Review of Books Anne Thériault, “Queens of Infamy: Josephine Bonaparte,” Longread David Marchese, “Robert A. Caro on the Means and Ends of Power,” NYT Magazine Tiger Zhifu Li Dennis Overbye, “Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole,” The New York…

What We’re Reading This Week

John Gast:, American Progress, 1872 (Source: Wikipedia)

Collin Bernard

Christopher Clark, “Why should we think about the Revolutions of 1848 now?LRB

Jedediah Britton-Purdy, “Infinite Frontier: The Eternal Return of American Expansionism,” The Nation

Nan Enstad, “Debunking the Capitalist Cowboy,” The Boston Review

A. Dirk Moses, “‘White Genocide’ and the Ethics of Public Analysis,” Journal of Genocide Research

Martin Crevier

Samuel Moyn, “How to Be a Marxist,” Jacobin

Antoine Xavier-Fournier et Philippe Munch, “Robespierre, un gilet jaune?Le Devoir

Kit Gilet, “Maoism: A Global History – how China exported revolution around the world,” Post Magazine

Matthew Bowser

Erin Blakemore, “The Kashmir Conflict: How Did It Start?” National Geographic

How Has Immigration Changed Britain Since World War II?BBC iWonder

Sugam Pokharel, “60 Years After Exile, Tibetans Face a Fight for Survival in a Post-Dalai Lama World,CNN News

Sean Coughlan, “Last Survivor of US Slave Ships Discovered,BBC News

Elites Connecting Eastern and Western Europe: An Interview with Dina Gusejnova

Dina Gusejnova, lecturer in Modern history, University of Sheffield

The beginning of the twentieth century was a turbulent period for Europe as it emerged from the First World War, with a revolution in Russia, the fall of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman empires, the abolition of many monarchies, and the rise of new nation-states. New actors and new ideas entered the political arena, radically changing the course of European history. How did the old imperial elites reflect on these changes, and how did they adapt to them?

Dina Gusejnova, a lecturer in Modern history at the University of Sheffield, looks into this unstable period through the eyes of German-speaking liberal intellectuals who belonged to the old and new nobility of Germany, Austria, and Russia. In her book, European Elites and Ideas of Empire, 1917-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) she analyses how these German-speaking intellectuals used their old networks to call for a new Europe. This fascinating book provides a transnational history of the idea of Europe, linking histories of Germany and Russia, which are usually told separately, through the eyes of a cosmopolitan network of authors.

In our conversation, we discussed the place of the old nobility in the new world order. We also talked about transnational approaches to history and the importance of bridging isolated national historiographies, as well as the changing patterns of historical research in the last decade.

–Julia Klimova (University College London)

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)