The Blog March 27, 2020

What We're Reading This Week

Advert for passage on Empire Windrush from Kingston, Jamaica to the UK, The Daily Gleaner, 15 April 1948. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Yehor Brailian

Daniel Rey, “Escape to Mexico”, History Today

Ray shows how Mexico in the twentieth century became the place of asylum for dictators, revolutionaries, and artists—from Luis Buñuel to Evo Morales.

Rachel Tiven, “The World’s Fair That Ignored More Than Half the World”, JSTOR Daily

Rachel Tiven analyses the experience of racial and gender discrimination as the most common feature of Chicago’s World Fair of 1893, where “one half the people” of the US attended it and the other half remained hidden.

Polly Price, “How a Fragmented Country Fights a Pandemic”, The Atlantic

Polly Price’s article compares how the United States on federal and local levels organized medical social aid during Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919 and what lessons we may learn from it in addressing the corona virus pandemic.

Rodric Braithwaite, “The Big Three who ended the Cold War”, The Spectator

A review of Archie Brown’s book on the personal roles that Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev played in the destruction of the bipolar international order.

Hayley Keon

Christina Gross-Loh, “Port of Last Call”, Los Angeles Review of Books

Christina Gross-Loh reviews Prof. Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s most recent publication, Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, which draws upon historical reflections and personal narratives to frame the city’s recent protests in the context of its transition from a British colony to a Chinese territory.

Adina Campbell, “Windrush Scandal: Home Office Showed ‘Ignorance’ of Race-Analysis”, BBC

In her take on the Windrush scandal that has whipped through the UK government in recent weeks, journalist Adina Campbell emphasises the historical legacies of racial injustice that emerged during the British Empire and its decolonisation.

Alain de Botton, “Camus on the Corona Virus”, The New York Times

In his opinion piece for The NYT, writer Alain de Botton draws upon Albert Camus’s 1947 ‘The Plague’ to find lessons in human nature that can be applied to 2020’s pandemic.

 

Sean Phillips

Mark Honigsbaum, “A Once-in-a-Century Pathogen’: The 1918 Pandemic & This One”, The New York Review of Books

Honigsbaum explores the pathogenic and cultural similarities (and differences) between the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and the current Covid-19 outbreak.

David Edgerton, “When it comes to national emergencies, Britain has a tradition of cold calculation”, The Guardian

Edgerton places the British government’s response to the current pandemic in historical context, arguing that both the Chamberlain and Macmillan governments also made minimal preparations for anticipated disasters (bombing campaigns in the 1930s and nuclear war in the 1950s respectively). In both cases, the government’s utilitarian response “aimed to do the minimum necessary to allay fears”. Edgerton sees echoes in Johnson’s strategy.

Henry Farrell & Abraham Newman, “Will the Coronavirus End Globalization as We Know It? The Pandemic Is Exposing Market Vulnerabilities No One Knew Existed”, Foreign Affairs

Farrell and Newman’s piece examines some of the ways in which the current pandemic is exposing the fragility of globalization. Our current world system has produced “extraordinary efficiencies but also extraordinary vulnerabilities” they claim.

Jon Piccini, “Australian Labor and the ‘Color Line'”, Jacobin Magazine

Piccini’s piece examines an enduring tension in the history of the Australian labour movement (1870s-1970s), namely the uneasy inter-relation between an ideological commitment to internationalism and to the idea of a racially exclusive “White Australia”. Piccini selects evidence from across the period to demonstrate instances in which “friendship and solidarity blossomed between white Australian workers” and their Asian counterparts, “undercutting color prejudice.”

Adam Hochman, “Is ‘race’ modern?”, Aeon

Hochman’s piece stresses that in our attempt to see race and racism as distinctly modern we miss opportunities to examine what older techniques of racialization reveal across the longue durée. Whilst not a concept familiar to the ancients, Hochman stresses, the concept of race is late-medieval in origin.

Amanda Behm, Christienna Fryar, Emma Hunter, Elisabeth Leake, Su Lin Lewis, Sarah Miller-Davenport, “Decolonizing History: Enquiry and Practice”, History Workshop Journal, Vol. 89, 2020, 169–191.

In this freely available roundtable discussion piece, the contributors explore how efforts and claims to ‘decolonize history’ currently relate to the study of decolonization in the British university, “where calls for ‘decolonizing’ are largely divorced from investigating the actual end of empire(s).” The piece offers a compelling picture of the balancing act required between module reform and the incorporation of new approaches and sources into existing teaching modules.

This website is using cookies to provide a good browsing experience

These include essential cookies that are necessary for the operation of the site, as well as others that are used only for anonymous statistical purposes, for comfort settings or to display personalized content. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available.

Privacy Policy Imprint
This website is using cookies to provide a good browsing experience

These include essential cookies that are necessary for the operation of the site, as well as others that are used only for anonymous statistical purposes, for comfort settings or to display personalized content. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Please note that based on your settings, not all functions of the website may be available.

Privacy Policy Imprint
Your cookie preferences have been saved.