Empire and Globalism

Britain's Banished Men
27 March 2015

BBC Two’s newest period drama Banished sheds light on the lives of the first penal colony established in Australia. The likes of Russell Tovey, Julian Rhind-Tutt, and MyAnna Buring portray the lives of convicts and soldiers trying to serve their time and get by in the wilds of New South Wales. Life seems incredibly brutal in this environment and one would imagine the real lives of the first convicts and soldiers would have been terribly difficult.

Anyone for a Guinness?
17 March 2015

A global phenomenon, few patron saints are as enthusiastically celebrated as St. Patrick. Credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland’s pagans in the fourth century, he has since become a symbol of Irish patriotism. And it doesn’t seem to matter much where you are in the world on 17 March ¬– chances are you’ll be encouraged to wear green, don your fanciest shamrock brooch and gulp down gallons of Guinness.

The Jews of British Colonial America
06 March 2015

With an academic background in British-Jewish studies, I am naturally drawn to archival material on Jewish life and culture. Whilst examining documents sourced from the Colonial Office for Adam Matthew’s forthcoming resource Colonial America (first instalment publishing in autumn 2015), I found some intriguing material relating to early Jewish settlers in the New World.

‘All people shall continue free Denizons’: New Amsterdam becomes New York
22 August 2014

Visiting New York a few years ago, I decided I wanted to see what remained of the very beginnings of the city: New Amsterdam, the Dutch settlement which was taken over by the English and rechristened after King Charles II’s brother, the Duke of York, in 1664. Sadly for my niche historical interest, the plain truth is that there is nothing to see. New Amsterdam was no more than a large village on the site of what is now Manhattan’s financial district; fires and rebuilding and time have erased it.

A Very Regal Rejection of Tobacco
12 May 2014

It’s not exactly a common occurrence these days that the mere mention of tobacco is met with an audible gasp of wonder. But this was precisely the reaction I encountered recently whilst delivering a webinar showcasing our resource Global Commodities: Trade, Exploration & Cultural Exchange

Annoy the enemy upon all quarters!
15 April 2014

Long experience has shown the human race that the surest way to provoke technological innovation is to fight a war. This being so, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find in the papers of Henry Knox, general in the Continental Army and artillery specialist during the American War of Independence, a design from about 1775 for an improved, and rather intriguing, type of naval vessel.

The End of the World
28 February 2014

“Ch’iaot’ou is a market of about 100 families and gives the impression of being the end of the world, as it is near the limit of settled Chinese penetration in those parts, and beyond is nothing but t’ussu ti, the wild tribal territory of the Sawbwas.”

Peek-a-Boos Need You!
03 January 2014

What a treat it was to dive into a world of adventure when I was a child; of course, I still do that as an adult, with many novels by my bedside, but bright illustrations and light-hearted storytelling certainly played a huge part in whisking me away to a land of fantasy and endless possibility. For children during World War 1, the topic of war was ever-present in the classroom as well as in the comfort and cosiness of home. Whilst flicking through hundreds of fascinating items for our forthcoming First World War resource.

Pox in the Pacific: Syphilis and the Hawaiian Islands
18 December 2013

Upon Captain Cook’s arrival in 1778 the population of the Hawaiian Islands was estimated at around 500,000. By 1848, however, this number had fallen to less than 90,000. Explanations for this exponential decline vary quite considerably, with many historians citing war, famine, and disease as potential factors. Yet contemporary narratives largely focus on one primary cause; the arrival of syphilis. In his study of the Islands in 1853, G W Bates...

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