Nations and empires


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Children playing in the remains of King Henry’s Sans-Souci Palace in Milot, Haiti, 8 September 2017. Photo by Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters

Essay/
Nations and empires
The king of Haiti’s dream

How a utopian vision of Black freedom and self-government was undone in a world still in thrall to slavery and racism

Marlene L Daut

An Indian worker shows a European man a sample of opium taken from one of the large clay pots in the foreground. Photo by Bourne and Shepherd/British Library

Essay/
Global history
From vice to crime

European empires were addicted to opium smoking. Then their own agents launched a moral crusade to prohibit it

Diana S Kim

A view of Singapore’s central business district from a hotel along Beach Road. Much of Singapore’s recent development has been built upon land reclaimed from the sea. Photo by Sim Chi Yin/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Politics and government
The ungoverned globe

The end of the liberal order would unleash chaos; its continuance means unconstrained economic suffering. What to do?

Benjamin Studebaker

Early Anglo-Saxon helmet (late-6th to early 7th century) made in either Scandinavia or England, and discovered at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, United Kingdom. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum

Essay/
Archaeology
The fight for ‘Anglo-Saxon’

Racists use it to bolster their ethnohistorical myths, but historians and archaeologists should not abandon the term

Howard Williams

Kish-Kallo-Wa (Family Algonquian-Tribe Shawnee), by Henry Inman (1832-33). Oil on canvas. Courtesy the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Gerald and Kathleen Peters

Essay/
Nations and empires
Indian removal

One of the first mass deportations in the modern world, administered by state bureaucrats, took place on American soil

Claudio Saunt

Detail from Hannah Duston Killing the Indians (1847) by Junius Brutus Stearns. Courtesy Colby College Museum of Art; Gift of R Chase Lasbury and Sally Nan Lasbury

Essay/
War and peace
American torture

For 400 years, Americans have argued that their violence is justified while the violence of others constitutes barbarism

William Fitzhugh Brundage

Armed Armenian revolutionaries, Turkey, 1906. Photo courtesy of B Dickson/Royal Geographical Society/Getty

Essay/
Nations and empires
Roving revolutionaries

Moving between the Russian, Iranian and Young Turk revolutions, cosmopolitan Armenians helped usher in the 20th century

Houri Berberian

Plaque depicting warrior and attendants (16th-17th century), Edo peoples, Benin kingdom, Nigeria. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Essay/
Global history
Africa, in its fullness

The West focuses only on slavery, but the history of Africa is so much more than a footnote to European imperialism

Toby Green

The Miracles of Saint Francis Xavier (1619-22) by André Reinoso. Saint Francis Xavier was a missionary and co-founder of the Jesuit order. Courtesy Museu de São Roque, Lisbon/AKG

Essay/
Nations and empires
Architects of empire

Jesuits knew the miserable truth of European empire in India and Brazil, yet their writings rendered it grandiose and sacred

Ananya Chakravarti

Fisherman at Saint Jean d’Acre in then Ottoman Syria, now Israel. Photo taken in 1891 by André Salles. Courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

Essay/
Nations and empires
Cosmopolitan Ottomans

European colonisation put an abrupt end to political experiments towards a more equal, diverse and ecumenical Arab world

Ussama Makdisi

Members of the American Indian Movement and the Oglala Sioux in a stand-off with FBI agents, National Guard soldiers, and federal marshals at Wounded Knee in March 1973. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Essay/
Nations and empires
The Lakota never left

Facing annihilation, the Lakota instead remade themselves – and took a lead role among the world’s indigenous peoples

Pekka Hämäläinen

Berber women photographed in January 1932. Photo by Marcelin Flandrin/National Geographic

Essay/
Race and ethnicity
Race on the mind

When Europeans colonised North Africa, they imposed their preoccupation with race onto its diverse peoples and deep past

Ramzi Rouighi

Detail from Cerro Rico and the Imperial Municipality of Potosí (1758), by Gaspar Miguel de Berrío. Courtesy Museo Universitario Charcas, Sucre, Bolivia/AKG

Essay/
Cities
The first global city

High in the Andes, Potosí supplied the world with silver, and in return reaped goods and peoples from Burma to Baghdad

Kris Lane

Nissho Inoue at the time of his trial in June 1933. Photo courtesy the author

Essay/
Religion
Zen terror

Master Nissho Inoue and his band of assassins teach some uncomfortable truths about terrorism, for those who will hear

Brian Victoria

Warships in a Heavy Storm (c1695), by Ludolf Bakhuysen. Courtesy Rijksmusuem, Amsterdam

Essay/
History of science
When pirates studied Euclid

How did the sailors of early modern Europe learn to traverse the world’s seas? By going to school and doing maths problems

Margaret Schotte

Coloured lanterns featuring Peppa Pig characters at Fo Guang Shan during a dharma assembly on the Chinese New Year, 5 February 2019, in Kaohsiung, China. Photo by Chen Xiaoyuan/China News Service/Getty

Essay/
Global history
Re-made in China

From Marxism to hip hop, China’s appropriations from the West show that globalisation makes the world bumpy, not flat

Amy Hawkins & Jeffrey Wasserstrom

The Hongs at Canton (c1820), unknown artist. Chinese school. Photo by AKG London

Essay/
Nations and empires
Scots running amok

As loan sharks, drug smugglers, generals and plant hunters, Scots played a central role in expanding the British Empire

Jessica Hanser

Detail from Nagasaki Harbour (c1833-6), by Kawahara Keiga. Ink and colour on silk. On the left is the crescent-shaped island of Deshima (flying the national flag), from which the Dutch were the only Westerners to trade with Japan from 1641 to 1859. Courtesy the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Essay/
Nations and empires
Asia had the upper hand

For centuries, Europeans in Asia were guests, trading partners and subordinates. Only much later did Empire seem imaginable

Chris Nierstrasz

European tourists having a picnic in a temple in Egypt, 1898. Photo by LL/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Essay/
Global history
Who really owns the past?

Cultural heritage is an ideal imposed from above. It’s time to listen to what communities value about their own histories

Michael Press

A poster of Kemal Atatürk by the entrance door of a house in Çeşme, Turkey. August 2015. Photo by Alfredo D’Amato/Panos Pictures

Essay/
Nations and empires
Turkey’s hard white turn

In 20th-century Turkey, modernisers turned to eugenics and claims of an ancient Asian past to argue that Turks were white

Murat Ergin

Internally displaced people fleeing from fighting in the village of Shora, 25km south of Mosul, reach an Iraqi army checkpoint on the Northern outskirts of Qayyarah. Photo by Ivor Prickett/UNHCR/Panos

Essay/
War and peace
Separatism is no solution

Partition in Iraq rests on Orientalist ideas – and overlooks what many Iraqis, minorities included, say they want

Alice Su