Matthew G. Stanard
This chapter identifies and develops several themes that have emerged in recent works on the end of Belgium’s empire. The first is how, before 1960, factors mainly endogenous to the Congo and the Belgian-Congo colonial relationship were responsible for shaping decolonization’s history. Paradoxically, the depth of Belgium’s colonial impact politically and economically also produced changes that undermined colonial control as well as Congo’s cohesion. The chapter analyses the depth of Belgian social, economic and political connections with its vast Congo territory in the years preceding and immediately following the 1960 crisis, the assassination of Lumumba, and the widening UN intervention of the early 1960s.
The Copperbelt region of Central Africa sits at the crossroads of political borders, trade corridors, migratory flows, and identity formations. The division of the region by a colonial/national border shaped not only its differential political economy, but also how this was perceived and represented. At the heart of all such representations was the relationship between minerals and their supposed capacity to effect economic, political, and social transformation. This article analyzes how this relationship has been understood and articulated from the precolonial period until today, and the ways that actual and potential mineral wealth have underwritten successive, often contested, political projects and aspirations. In identifying changes and enduring patterns in mining-based political representation, it suggests an alternative history of the Copperbelt region rooted in the political imaginaries surrounding mining and its potential for transformation.
Sarah Elizabeth Stockwell
This chapter considers processes of decolonization in Britain’s ‘empires’, incorporating discussion not just of the key dynamics and manifestations of decolonization in the colonial empire in India, Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere, but also in Britain’s residual ‘informal’ empire in the Middle East, and in the ‘old’ Commonwealth countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The chapter argues that decolonization across these different contexts was driven by geo-political forces operating across the European empires, as the international order was reconfigured by two world wars, tilting power away from Britain and other European imperial powers. Stockwell nevertheless identifies elements of British imperial exceptionalism. She suggests that these were not to be found, as contemporaries liked to claim, in the form of a British liberal imperialism. Rather, Britain, which was at the centre of an empire larger than any other, retained a semblance of great power status, shaping British relations with the United States and Britain’s ambitions to exercise influence after empire.
China’s end of empire, as elsewhere, was a protracted process, the ramifications of which are still being felt, and its imperial situation was especially complex. From the middle of the nineteenth-century onwards, more than a dozen foreign powers acquired an imperial foothold in China but none secured (and rarely sought) anything more than small pockets of territorial jurisdiction until the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–1945. This chapter considers the fates of three different Chinese empires: the Manchu Qing dynasty, the Western powers, and the Japanese. It will attempt to explain how the Qing vanquished, held, then lost a vast territory marked by pronounced cultural diversity, and explores how its end was closely bound up with the rise and fall of overseas powers in China.
This chapter considers the changing approaches adopted after the October Revolution towards Russia’s ethnic minority populations alongside efforts to construct a shared Russian or Soviet national identity within what remained a culturally diffuse land empire. Politicians and historians have produced multiple narratives of the collapse of the Romanov empire. The initial history of the Bolsheviks stressed the role of the national movements against ‘the prison of nations’ alongside the proletarian struggle against ‘the weakest link’ of imperialism. In the 1930s, the Stalin-edited ‘Short Course of the History of the Communist Party’ marginalized national movements’ roles in favour of class struggle, while post-communist national historiographies did the opposite. Recently, the growing literature on the First World War places the conflict itself at the centre of the story of imperial collapse and demonstrates how multiple factors, produced by the conditions of war, undermined empire and strengthened the ethnic and social anti-imperial movements.
Enrico Dal Lago
This article first briefly reviews the historiography of comparative slavery, so as to identify the main trends and changes it went through. It then provides a summary of the state of the art of comparative studies in the three main historical periods in which slavery flourished in the Americas: the colonial period (sixteenth to late eighteenth centuries), the revolutionary period (roughly 1770–1820), and the nineteenth century. At the heart of the article are the different ways in which comparative perspectives have enhanced our understanding of the different historical phenomena — chief among them capitalism — associated with the rise and spread of the Atlantic slave system in the New World. A long debate is still in course on the definition of the relation between slavery and capitalism and on whether we can see this relation as an alternative route to modernity followed by the slave societies in the Americas, especially the Old South. The comparative perspective helps by showing that capitalist and precapitalist elements were present in different degrees in all the areas characterized by slave labour and that it was this coexistence of different elements that provided New World slavery with features that make it comparable to systems of both free and unfree labour in other parts of the world.
The era of the French Revolution, and specifically the later 1780s and 1790s, saw the modern meanings first of “diplomatic” and then “diplomacy” become established in the political lexicon. A century before, when the Maurist monk Jean Mabillon wrote De re diplomatica (1681), his masterpiece devoted to the science of documents and the historical method, the term still retained its traditional meaning: relating to the study of diplomas or other documents. At this period the peaceful conduct of relations between states was known as “negotiations” (négociations ), a term which long continued to be employed. During the later eighteenth century, however, the terms “diplomatic” and “diplomacy” took on their present-day meaning both in French and in English. The Irish political journalist and British MP, Edmund Burke, did most to make the word familiar to Anglophone readers. In the Annual Register for 1787 he wrote of “civil, diplomatique [sic] and military affairs,” while a decade later, in one of his celebrated Letters on a Regicide Peace, he spoke of the French regime's “double diplomacy.” By shortly after 1800, the term was becoming established.
H. James Burgwyn
This article examines the essence of Mussolini's foreign policy and Italy in the Second World War. Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were dreamers who indulged in a mysticism of empire and race. According to the gifted historian MacGregor Knox, there are major similarities between the dictatorships of Hitler and Mussolini. Each regime is found to be genuinely revolutionary, their evil and violent leaders committed to subverting the international system of sovereign states in favour of an Axis New Order where racial and ethnic inferiors would be either annihilated or reduced to helots serving barbaric masters. Meanwhile, according to a dominant nationalist school of thought of Italy led by Renzo De Felice, Mussolini, in seeking ‘equidistance’ between the chief European states, aimed to utilize Nazi Germany as leverage to extract colonial concessions from the Western Powers.
The End of Empire in the Maghreb: The Common Heritage and Distinct Destinies of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia
This chapter devotes itself to explaining the dichotomy in the paths to decolonization followed by the French territories in the North African Maghreb: Morocco and Tunisia, compared to Algeria. The seminal event of the end of the French Empire, the Algerian war of independence was terribly bloody, and its most extreme acts of violence were concentrated within Algeria. Its impact on French society was profound: the long-term engagement of French troops was socially transformative, the political repercussions were huge, and Metropolitan France became a secondary theatre of the conflict. There is a pronounced imbalance in the volume of research produced on Algeria compared to that generated on Tunisia and Morocco. The sequence of events at the end of empire in North Africa and the subsequent formation of sovereign states supports an approach that pays due attention to the particular histories of the three territories, focusing chiefly on each one’s particularities.
This article proposes to shift the focus from eugenic science to its translation into concrete policy practices, adopting a comparative perspective. It draws on examples of eugenic policy-making in the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany to explore the relation between eugenic science and the state, examining the impact of different state formations on cross-national variations in the political trajectories of eugenics. Eugenic movements were thus able to exert important influence on these states' policy-making apparatuses. This article also discusses the affect of specific institutional design on the ways in which eugenic policies are implemented. It also deals with political spectrum of eugenics and tends to amalgamate eugenics with conservative and extreme right-wing political ideologies.