• Slider Image

What We’re Reading This Week

COLLIN BERNARD

Tariq Ali and David Edgar, “That Was The Year That Was,” LRB.

Stathis Kouvelakis, “Borderland: Greece and the EU’s Southern Question,” New Left Review.

John Foot, “Closing the Asylums,” Jacobin.

Karoline Kan, “A Chinese Town’s Deep Bonds With Japan Bring Wealth and Hatred
Image,” New York Times.

Ian Cobain, “UK government trying to block release of files exposing Gaddafi links,” The Guardian.

Corey Robin, “The Erotic Professor,” The Chronicle.

SEAN PHILLIPS

Tracy Ireland, “How Captain Cook Became A Contested National Symbol,”The Conversation.

Dario di Rosa & Nicholas Hoare [in conversation], “Microstoria, Pacific History, and the Question of Scale: 2 or 3 Things That We Should Know About Them according to Dario Di Rosa,” The Journal of Pacific History Facebook Page.

Daniel Fernandez, “The Surprisingly Intolerant History of Milk,” Smithsonian Magazine.

Tim Whitmarsh, “Black Achilles,” Aeon.

Patrick Roger, “En Nouvelle-Calédonie, le «destin commun » apparaît comme une bien lointaine chimère,” Le Monde.

MARTIN CREVIER

Rohan Deb Roy, “The Untold Story of Modern Science Is One of Empire and Colonial Exploitation,” Quartz.

Allison Miller, “The Story of the Multigraph Collective,” American Historical Association.

Robinson Meyer, “Ancient Rome’s Collapse Is Written Into Arctic Ice,” The Atlantic.

Pinar Bilgin, “How to Globalize IR?,” E-International Relations.

MEGHNA CHAUDHURI

Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore, “How the Chicken Nugget Became the True Symbol of Our Era,” The Guardian.

Jacob Mikanowski, “A Silver Thread: Islam in Eastern Europe,” LA Review of Books.

Anjali Kamat, “Political Corruption and the Art of the Deal,” The New Republic.

Jonathan Sturgeon, “Dispatches from the American Gray Zone,” The Baffler.

CFP: “The Uncanny in Language, Literature and Culture,” International Conference (18 August 2018 – London, UK)

“The Uncanny in Language, Literature and Culture” Organised by London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research The twentieth-century literature and culture tended to explore and to celebrate subjectivity. But this tendency did not mean the turn to the self, but beyond the self, or as Charles Taylor puts it, “to a fragmentation of experience which calls our ordinary notions…

What We’re Reading This Week

When it was first displayed in Madrid in 1981, Picasso’s painting “Guernica” was protected by armed guards/Associated Press.

CAROLINE KAHLENBERG

Ann Snitow, ‘Talking Back to the Patriarchy,’ Dissent.

Alan Taylor, ‘100 Years Ago: France in the Final Year of World War I,’ The Atlantic.

Peter Hessler, ‘Cairo: A Type of Love Story,’ The New Yorker.

Sophie Pinkham, ‘No Direction Home,’ The New Republic.

CHRIS SZABLA

Alex von Tunzelman, ‘Whose Civilizing Misson?’ History Today.

Jacob Soll, ‘How Islam Shaped the Enlightenment,’ The New Republic.

Robert Mackey, ‘In a Fight Over Syria, Echoes of Spain’s Civil War and the Battle for Truth in Guernica,’ The Intercept.

Maggie Astor, ‘Holocaust is Fading from Memory, Survey Finds,’ The New York Times.

JOSEPH SATISH

Ashok Parthasarathi, ‘Science and Technology Diplomacy – Some Reflections,’ Current Science.

Sita Reddy, ‘Indian Botanicals and Heritage Wars,’ Wellcome Collection.

Snigdha Das, ‘Embrace of an Unforgettable Conservation Crusade Lingers On,’ Down to Earth.

Annabel LaBrecque, ‘The National History Center’s New Teaching Decolonization Resource Collection,’ AHA Today.

JOEL VAN DE SANDE

Siba Grovogui, ‘Future Anterior: A Genealogy of International Relations and Society,’ Blog Siba Grovogui.

Zahid Chaudhary, ‘What Is the Future of Psychoanalysis in the Academy,’ Psychoanalysis and History.

Siba Grovogui, Lecture ‘Our Future’s is Another’s Past,’ Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University.  

What We’re Reading This Week

Batavia, 1682. Atlas of Mutual Heritage and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the Dutch National Library/Wikimedia Commons.

JAMES PARKER

Joanna Kakissis, “An Anti-Immigration Speech Divided Britain 50 Years Ago,” NPR.

Rohan Deb Roy, “Decolonise Science – Time to End Another Imperial Era,” The Conversation.

Colin Grant, “Britain’s Debt to the Windrush Generation,” The New York Review of Books.

George Bisharat, “The Forced Displacement of Palestinians Never Truly Ended,” The Nation.

KRISTIN OBERIANO

Michael Goebel, “A Metropolitan World,” Aeon.

Matthew Longo, “The Border is Not a Wall,” Boston Review.

“There’s a Massive Free Catalogue of Indigenous Films Online – And We Have 6 Picks to Get You Started,” CBC Arts.

TIGER ZHIFU LI

Andrew Field, “Why I Remain in China After All These Years,” Blog Shanghai Sojourns.

Fernando Zamudio-Suarez, “Historians Want to Be Cited in the Media,” The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Antia Wiersma, “History is Relevant Everywhere – An International Scholar’s Perspective on the Annual Meeting,” Blog AHA Today.

Kirsty Needham, “Watershed Moment as Weibo Stops Blocking Gay Content in China,” The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Human Condition and the Laws of War: An Interview with Tanisha Fazal

Dr. Tanisha Fazal

Today, declarations of war belong to the museum of international history. Most states no longer declare war (e.g. Ukraine, Afghanistan, Korea) and often resist signing peace treaties. This has not always been the case. Until the late 1940s, half of all interstate wars were formally declared and seven out of ten ended with a formal peace treaty.

In Wars of Law, Unintended Consequences in the Regulation of Armed Conflict (Cornell, 2018), Tanisha Fazal, an associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota, argues that declarations of war and peace treaties are more than legal niceties alone. In fact, they can tell us when wars begin and end; can trigger the laws of war; and can set the legal boundaries of wartime. In her book, she suggests the proliferation of increasingly restrictive laws of war has, ‘in a perverse unintended consequence,’ critically altered the incentives for belligerents to formally declare war or peace.

Fazal argues warring parties have stopped filing formal declarations of war and signing interstate peace treaties in order to create ambiguity as to whether the laws of war apply. An important reason for this development, she claims, is the growing split between the ‘lawmakers’ (humanitarians) and ‘lawtakers’ (soldiers). With the declining percentage of military representatives at lawmaking conferences, the laws of war have become increasingly restrictive on those applying them in times of war. 

The main consequence of this proliferation of tougher restrictions for warmaking is, according to Fazal, that states increasingly tend to frame their wars as ‘counterterrorism’. Some states today are both never and always in a state that approximates war. Fazal first encountered this puzzle when she witnessed how after 9/11 US troops invaded Afghanistan without filing a formal declaration of war. With the Bush Administration’s initial decision to reject applying the Geneva Conventions, she found that the laws of war created ‘perverse incentives’ for warring parties to engage in legal gymnastics to limit their obligations in wartime. The rising costs of compliance with ever-higher standards, she claims, have encouraged states to avoid stepping over ‘any bright lines’ that would directly oblige them to comply with the rules of war. 

Guns, Spies and Empire, Or, Why Good People Do Bad Things: An Interview with Priya Satia

Author Priya Satia.
Source: Penguin RandomHouse

U.S. power today relies on sophisticated global surveillance networks, which the world is keenly aware of but rarely sees. In Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain’s Covert Empire in the Middle East (OUP, 2008), Priya Satia explains how it became possible to possess an empire that was both vast and possible to ignore—how an empire could hide in the skies. Her account is not a story of the United States in the last half-century, but of Britain in the first decades of the twentieth. Through what she defines as a cultural history of intelligence, Satia traces how intelligence agencies came to wield unbridled executive power.

Satia argues that the making of Britain’s “covert empire” was bound up in intelligence-gathering tactics pioneered by British agents in the Middle East (Arabia and Iraq, specifically). The ultimate tool of covert empire—aerial surveillance—came to be used far beyond the Middle East; but, Satia argues, its initial deployment there resulted from the marriage of a cultural epistemology peculiar to British agents in Arabia with the emergence of mass democracy, and a new suspicion of empire, in Britain itself.

Priya Satia’s second book, Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution came out this month with Penguin. I sat down with Satia to discuss Spies in Arabia, how she got from writing about spies in the twentieth century to guns in the eighteenth, and her commitment to writing history that people will read. Satia received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and is now Professor of Modern British History at Stanford University. She teaches courses on Britain and its empire, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia.

Chloe Bordewich

What We’re Reading This Week

James Baldwin with Marlon Brando, 1963 (Wikimedia).

MEGHNA CHAUDHURI

Daniel Luban, ‘In Marx’s Republic,’ The Nation.

Pankaj Mishra, ‘Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism,’ The New York Review of Books.

Anu Kumar, ‘100 Years on, Remembering the Hindu-German Conspiracy to Violently Overthrow the British Raj,’ Scroll.in.

D.T. Max, ‘The Chinese Workers Who Assemble Designer Bags in Tuscany,’ The New Yorker.

COLLIN BERNARD

Michael Behrent, ‘Age of Emancipation,’ Dissent.

James Meek, ‘NHS SOS,’ London Review of Books.

Ed Pavlic, ‘Baldwin’s Lonely Country,’ Boston Review.

Jeremiah Jenne, ‘Cosmopolitan Colonialism,’ China Channel LA Review of Books.

MARTIN CREVIER

Soutik Biswas, ‘What a Skull in an English Pub Says About India’s 1857 Mutiny,’ BBC.

William Dalrymple, ‘The East India Company: The Original Corporate Raiders,’ The Guardian.

Vann R. Newkirk, ‘The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination,’ The Atlantic.…

CFP: “Memory and Religion: Central and Eastern Europe in a Global Perspective” (16-18 October, 2018)

For those interested in secularism and relationships between religious systems, here’s an interesting call for you! European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS) has announced a conference titled “Memory and Religion: Central and Eastern Europe in a Global Perspective.” The call explains more: Contemporary post-secular researchers stress that in the time of multiples modernities, secular and…

What We’re Reading This Week

Saba Mahmood, Professor of Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

FATMA ALADAĞ

Gabriela Marcovich, “On the Potentialities (and Limits) of Collaboration in Global History,” L’Atelier.

Priya Satia, “The Whitesplaining of History is Over,” The Chronicle.

Sagnik Dutta, “Remembering Saba Mahmood,” The Wire.

Kris Manjapara, “When Will Britain Face Up to its Crimes Against Humanity?,” The Guardian.

ADEN KNAAP

Rana Dasgupta, “The Demise of the Nation State,” The Guardian.

Several authors, “The Awakening,” The Chronicle.

Sarah Dunstan, “A Conversation with Professor Stefanos Geroulanos,” JHI Blog.

Amia Srinivasan, “Does Anyone Have the Right to Sex?,” London Review of Books.

SEAN PHILLIPS

Benjamin Mountford & Stephen Tufnell, “How Gold Rushes Helped Make Modern History,” The Conversation.

John Motyka, “Alfred Crosby, ‘Father of Environmental History,’ Is Dead at 87,” The New York Times.

Christopher Bae, “In to Asia,” Aeon.

Rohan Deb Roy, “Decolonise Science – Time to End Another Imperial Era,” The Conversation.

Summer Academy: “Labour and Leisure in Global History” (University of Nairobi, 9-16 September, 2018)

For those interested in summer programs on global history, here’s a recent call for you! The international research centre Work and Human Lifecycle in Global (re:work), the IAAW at Humboldt University Berlin, and the Faculty of Arts, University of Nairobi have announced a summer academy related to labor history. The call explains more: The international research…