Nations and empires


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Bamangwato chief Seretse Khama addresses a tribal council meeting in March 1950. Under his leadership, between 1966 and 1980 Botswana had the fastest-growing economy in the world. Photo by Margarte Bourke-White/Time Life/Getty

Essay/
Nations and empires
How nations come together

Nations come with a vast array of peoples, languages and histories, but the strong ones share three simple things

Andreas Wimmer

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

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

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

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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

Photo by Bloomberg/Getty

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Nations and empires
Why nation-states are good

The nation-state remains the best foundation for capitalism, and hyper-globalisation risks destroying it

Dani Rodrik

An 18th-century Indian Matchlock Musket from Lahore. Photo courtesy the Royal Armouries Collections

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Nations and empires
Guns and the British empire

Eighteenth-century Indian arms were as sophisticated as European. Then came the British Empire to drive industry backwards

Priya Satia

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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

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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

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

France, 1950. Photo by Mark Kauffman/LIFE/Getty

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Nations and empires
Les Anglo-Saxons

Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy

Emile Chabal

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

James Donovan, an Irish sweeper at the Fall River Iron Works who said he was 17 years old, Massachusetts, June 1916. Photograph by Lewis Hine/Library of Congress

Essay/
Global history
The Irish diaspora

There are 70 million people around the world who claim Irish ancestry. What shaped and made the great Irish emigration?

Kevin Kenny

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

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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

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

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