First and foremost, I’d like to say that this post isn’t about painting Haiti as a picture of continued extreme turmoil, trouble and disaster. Haiti has such a beautifully rich and inspiring culture, but has been plagued with fits of corruption, natural disaster and political unrest through the country’s entire existence. Recently, Haiti has been… Continue Reading Understanding Haiti’s Past: A Reading List
Today we welcome a guest post from Amanda Brickell Bellows, author of American Slavery and Russian Serfdom in the Post-Emancipation Imagination, out now from UNC Press. The abolition of Russian serfdom in 1861 and American slavery in 1865 transformed both nations as Russian peasants and African Americans gained new rights as subjects and citizens. During… Continue Reading Amanda Brickell Bellows–Slavery: Past and Present
Today we welcome a guest post from Maddalena Marinari, author of Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882-1965, available now from UNC Press. In the late nineteenth century, Italians and Eastern European Jews joined millions of migrants around the globe who left their countries to take advantage of the demand for unskilled… Continue Reading Maddalena Marinari: The Fight for Immigration Reform Then and Now
Today we welcome a guest post from Céline Carayon, author of Eloquence Embodied: Nonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, out now from UNC Press and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Taking a fresh look at the first two centuries of French colonialism in the Americas, this book… Continue Reading Céline Carayon: Legible Signs and Symbolic Violence: Communicating Nonverbally, Then and Now
Today we welcome a guest post from Venus Bivar, author of Organic Resistance: The Struggle over Industrial Farming in Postwar France. France is often held up as a bastion of gastronomic refinement and as a model of artisanal agriculture and husbandry. But French farming is not at all what it seems. Countering the standard stories… Continue Reading Venus Bivar: Romanticising the French Countryside
Today we welcome a guest post from Daniel Livesay, author of Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833, published by our friends at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children… Continue Reading Daniel Livesay: Meghan Markle and the Long History of American Brides of Color in Britain
What was the tipping point that pushed Americans into taking the step of declaring their independence? After all, the colonies had been at war with Britain for more than a year by the end of the spring of 1776. The other factor most attributed to causing independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, was five months old by that time. What changed in May 1776 to encourage patriot political leaders in both the Continental Congress and in many of the separate colonial assemblies to support severing ties with Britain? What produced a sudden support for independence?
The Germans were coming. Continue Reading Robert G. Parkinson: The Last News Story of Colonial America
Sixty years after the battle, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a triumphant hymn to the “embattled farmers” of Concord, Massachusetts who gathered at the “rude bridge that arched the flood” underneath “their flag to April’s breeze unfurled” and “fired the shot heard round the world.” Emerson solemnized the “spirit that made those heroes dare / to die, or leave their children free.” Emerson’s imagery added to the already thick layers of mythology surrounding the events of April 19, 1775, fusing together nature and nation to craft an American pastoral patriotism. Ever since, when Americans think about the start of the Revolution, it is Emerson’s chorus—of heroic white colonists fighting to preserve their liberty—that plays in the background of this nationalist legend.
But that wasn’t how some people thought about the events of that night. In fact, race played a role in how people reacted to the Lexington Alarm. Continue Reading Robert G. Parkinson: The Shot Heard Round the World Revisited
Roman toilets, sewers, and drains are important archaeological features that embody ideas relevant to Roman society about cleanliness, physical health, concepts of beauty, and even notions of privacy. If toilets are excavated properly, they can provide valuable data even about the diet and socioeconomic status of users, divisions between households where they are found, construction methods, and maintenance. Continue Reading Excerpt: The Archaeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy, by Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow
In recent months, Vladimir Putin has been playing hardball with the world. Yet Russia’s bullying and bravado can be seen as signs of a longstanding weakness. Continue Reading Patryk Babiracki: Showcasing Hard Power, Russia Reveals Her Longstanding Soft Spot
With oil prices falling, the ruble is tumbling down, and Russia’s immediate economic prospects are grim. But the Russian leaders’ political will to retain Ukraine is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. The lands that became modern Ukraine had been part of Russian empire for three and a half centuries. Vladimir Putin has shown inexhaustible energy in obstructing Ukraine’s rapprochement with the West; Ukraine’s prospective successes in integrating with the EU (or, in a more adventurous scenario, with NATO) would be a heavy blow to Russia’s prestige and to Mr. Putin’s ego. Therefore on the long run, it seems unlikely that any person or institution can prevent the Russian president and his cronies from wresting Ukraine back firmly into the Russian orbit. Continue Reading Patryk Babiracki: Post-Soviet Ukraine: Not Unlike Postwar Poland. What Putin’s Russia (and the West) Can Learn from the Cold War
I knew there were ample primary sources out there on what the Irish thought about race and racial identity. And as I dug into them in the course of my own research, I realized how much these previous scholars had missed by not listening to the immigrants’ voices. I learned, for example, that the differences between whites (along Celt/Saxon lines) were just as important, in the minds of many Irish, as the differences between whites and people of color. Moreover, the Irish talked about identity in transnational terms; they thought of themselves as members of a global community, capable of being Irish whether at home or abroad. These conclusions complicated, I realized, what many scholars have taken for granted regarding immigrant identity in the nineteenth century. Continue Reading Cian T. McMahon: Immigrant Voices/Immigrant Debate
But while Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations have often brought people together under the banner of “Irishness,” they have also served as bellwethers for deep-rooted concerns. After achieving political independence from Britain in the early 1920s, for example, the Irish government sought to consolidate their claims to respectability by prohibiting the sale of alcohol on the saint’s feast day. Throughout the twentieth century, Saint Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland were dour, formal affairs, often conducted through driving curtains of spring rain. Continue Reading Cian T. McMahon: The Global Dimensions of Saint Patrick
Putin is pushing a new nationalist conservatism with a strong strain of anti-Americanism, promoting a vision of the United States as the primary conspirator pulling strings to foster international chaos and regime change.
As former Ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul noted recently in the New Yorker, “Putin has a theory of American power that has some empirical basis.” The CIA overthrew governments in Iran and Guatemala, the United States bombed Belgrade to remove a dictator, and there is, of course, Iraq. However, a close examination of American policy toward Poland—the country the United States pushed hardest to break from the Soviet sphere in the 1980s—brings to the fore just how far the Russian president’s views are removed from reality. The United States is not nearly the revolutionary mastermind Putin seems to think it is. Continue Reading Gregory F. Domber: What Putin Misunderstands about American Power
As an immigrant, something I’m familiar with myself, one’s sense of identity is heightened by the immigration experience. In your new country, even when your language is the same as the natives, you suddenly you have an “accent,” your religion and culture are different, and you must adapt to new social and political realities. Immigrants then give us valuable insights, not only into their own changing identity, but also that of the host country. Irish immigrants in the South had to become Americans and Confederates. They had to negotiate the cultural traits they brought from Ireland with the demands of loyalty to their new home. And, it was this Irish cultural baggage which played the key role in binding them to the United States and the Confederacy Continue Reading David T. Gleeson: Irish Confederates and the Meaning of American Nationalism
Rather than becoming southern “under fire,” they became southern by misremembering, reimagining, and reinterpreting the real experience of being under fire. Continue Reading David T. Gleeson: Immigrants and American Wars: The Irish Confederate Experience
We are happy to announce UNC Press author James Sweet, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for his book, Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World. Continue Reading Congratulations to James Sweet, winner of the 2012 Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Foreign policy historian James Edward Miller provides background on the current financial and political predicament of Greece and the European Union. Continue Reading James Edward Miller: Greece and the EU Face Their Walt Kelly Moment
This is the third in a series of three guest posts from historian Lloyd Kramer, author of Nationalism in Europe and America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775. You can read Part 1 here and read Part 2 here.–ellen The Similarities of European and American Nationalisms I suggested in my earlier posts that the history… Continue Reading Lloyd Kramer: Why the History of Nationalism Matters in a Global Age, Part 3
Guest post from Lloyd Kramer on what makes nationalisms & how identity takes shape from country to country. Continue Reading Lloyd Kramer: Why the History of Nationalism Matters in a Global Age, Part 2