Imperialism

By Sword and Plow: French Settlement in Algeria

January 27, 2015

The conquest of Algeria in 1830 was the beginning of France’s second period of imperial expansion. * Like many colonial wars, the conquest became a sinkhole, eating armed forces and resources that many believed could better be used back home in France, which was in political turmoil following the July Revolution. (You could argue that […]

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Abd al-Qadir Fights Back

January 20, 2015

  If the French hadn’t invaded Algeria in 1830, Algerian emir Abd al-Qadir would probably have been content to follow his grandfather and father as the spiritual leader of the Qadiriyah Sufi order. In the fall of 1832, when the French began to expand their control into the Algerian interior, the Arab tribes of Oran […]

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The Incident of the Flyswatter

January 13, 2015

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend and regular reader of History in the Margins suggesting I write a post about the long, complex, and often difficult relationship between France and its Muslim citizens, hoping it would give her/you a context for the Charlie Hebdo killings and their aftermath. I will admit that I […]

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Cities of Empire

January 9, 2015

In Cities of Empire: The British Colonies and the Creation of the Urban World, historian Tristram Hunt (author of Marx’s General) explores Britain’s imperial history through the lens of the formerly colonial cities that he argues are her greatest legacy to the modern world. Hunt organizes his work around ten cities and their role in […]

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History On Display: Amazing Grace, the Musical

October 18, 2014

Earlier this week, My Own True Love and I took a chance on the “pre-Broadway world premier” of a musical by a new composer/playwright based on the historical story of John Newton (1725-1807), the slave trader turned Anglican minister and abolitionist who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”.  At a minimum, we knew there would be […]

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Shin-kickers From History: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar–Untouchable, Reformer, Founding Father

October 3, 2014

Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar (1891-1956) was one of the great men of the twentieth century, though he is virtually unknown in the west. Untouchable Ambedkar was born into the “untouchable” caste of Mahars in the Indian state of Maharashtra. At the time, untouchables suffered under legal restrictions that made the Jim Crow laws of the […]

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Jezebel or Joan of Arc?

September 2, 2014

In June, 1857, Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, belatedly committed herself and her kingdom to the revolt variously known as the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Rebellion, or the First Indian War of Independence. A Break in Tradition The rani had long-standing grievances against the British. She was the widow of Gangadhar Rao Niwalkar, ruler […]

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Whose Remembrance?

August 16, 2014

A few statistics from the Imperial War Museum in London make it clear that the First World War was a global war in more than one sense: Roughly 1.5 million soldiers from British India served in the war; 80,000 lost their lives. Many of them fought in the trenches on the Western Front–if you don’t […]

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Gandhi Before India

April 29, 2014

The first volume of what may well be the definitive biography of Mohandas Gandhi, Ramachandra Guha’s Gandhi Before India covers the years from Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his departure from South Africa in July, 1914. Biographers have often treated Gandhi’s earlier life– especially his two decades working in South Africa–as a  little more than […]

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The Other American Colonies

April 8, 2014

I struggled to come up with a title for this post that was not United States-centric*–a fact which pretty much sums up the topic at hand. For most Americans** the grade school version of history that we carry in our heads jumps from Columbus in 1492 straight to the arrival of the Puritans in Massachusetts […]

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