Nations and empires


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Proud new citizens at a US Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalisation ceremony at the New York Public Library in Manhattan on 3 July 2018. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Essay/
Nations and empires
The patriot paradox

Globalism is out. Nationalism is in. Progressives who think they can jump aboard are dangerously naive

Jeremy Adelman

The Course of Empire: Destruction (1836) by Thomas Cole. Courtesy Met Museum, New York/Wikipedia

Essay/
Nations and empires
The road from Rome

The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a lucky break for humanity as a whole

Walter Scheidel

Maxim and Ivy Litvinov in London in 1933. Photo by Hulton/Getty

Essay/
History
Madame comrade

How Ivy Litvinov, the English-born wife of a Soviet ambassador, seduced America with wit, tea and soft diplomacy

Brigid O’Keeffe

New Delhi, 6 June 1994. Photo by Sunil Malhotra/Reuters

Essay/
Nations and empires
Brand India

How a country used myth and mystique to tempt global investors – and seeded a toxic Hindu nationalism in the process

Ravinder Kaur

Vehicles on the Streets of Tokyo (1870) by Utagawa Yoshitori. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Essay/
Nations and empires
The myth of Westernisation

Americans liked to believe that Japan was Westernising through the 20th century but Japan was vigorously doing the opposite

Jon Davidann

A demonstrator uses a shield for protection against water cannons during an anti-government protest taking place outside the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 November 2020. Photo by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Essay/
War and peace
Unrest in your backyard

Rich nations with strong governments can no longer assume that political violence is a problem for other, poorer countries

Mark Kukis

Mahatma Gandhi visits the Greenfield Mill at Darwen during his tour of the cotton areas of Lancashire, England, in 1931. Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Essay/
History
History from below

What shaped the thought of E P Thompson, the great historian of ordinary working people and champion of their significance?

Priya Satia

Detail of a miniature of Arthur slaying the Spanish giant on the island of Mont-Saint-Michel (1471-1483), by Jean de Wavrin. Royal 15 E IV f. 156. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Library

Essay/
Stories and literature
Empire of fantasy

By conquering young minds, the writing of J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis worked to recapture a world that was swiftly ebbing away

Maria Sachiko Cecire

A drunkard is challenged to walk in a straight line. Detail from Walking the Chalk (1838) by Charles Deas. Courtesy the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Essay/
Food and drink
Drunks and democrats

Violent, lively and brash, taverns were everywhere in early colonial America, embodying both its tumult and its promise

Vaughn Scribner

Saint John the Evangelist Causes a Pagan Temple to Collapse (c1370) by Francescuccio Ghissi. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Essay/
The ancient world
Fiddling while Rome converts

A generation of pagan bureaucrats amassed wealth and status while Roman emperors Christianised the world around them

Edward Watts

Detail of ‘Siege of the City’ by Jean Charlot, watercolour of a fresco at Chichén Itzá. The Maya mural from the Las Monjas building clearly shows a ship with the distinct wooden planks of a Viking boat © Jean Charlot/Artists Rights Society [ARS]; Copyright Agency, 2020

Essay/
Global history
Vikings in America

Centuries before Columbus, Vikings came to the Western hemisphere. How far into the Americas did they travel?

Valerie Hansen

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