Two years after the revolution in Russia, the social revolution was once again fermenting on the ruins of the empires defeated in the war. The First World War was turning into a civil war and not only in countries defeated in the war. The year 1919 saw the spread of workers’ and soldiers’ councils and a series of anti-colonial revolts in the Middle East and Far East. As yet, the link between these and the October Revolution was largely symbolic, since the Communist International generally learned of events only after the fact even as it endeavoured to integrate them within a global theoretical framework. Nevertheless it felt as though revolution were spreading like a contagion, at the same time as a wave of repression no less generalized was building up. Opening in revolutionary struggle, the year 1919 would end in victory for counter-revolution.
The year 1936 was a momentous one in the history of communism. This was a time of acute uncertainty and fear, during which the Soviet Union and international communist movement faced unprecedented challenges. This article examines the attempts to build a socialist state in Russia, and to follow new international policies of collective security and the building of popular front alliances. Particular attention is given to the principal developments of the year—the internal crisis in the Soviet Union, the Chinese and Spanish civil wars, the Popular Front in France, the origins of the Great Terror—but also to the more everyday experiences of communists around the world.
This article explores the impact of de-Stalinization on the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China. Writers, artists, and intellectuals welcomed the curtailment of repression—the so- called ‘thaw’—but their calls for openness and tolerance unnerved the Soviet party authorities. In 1956 Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin but he did not question the fundamentals of socialism. Still, his criticism of Stalin led to turmoil in the socialist camp, most notably unrest in Poland and the anti-Soviet insurrection in Hungary. While Khrushchev agreed to a reduction of Soviet influence in Poland, he ordered military intervention in Hungary. This intervention undermined the legitimacy of communism, as it made clear that communism in Eastern Europe was a Soviet imposition. Meanwhile, de-Stalinization untied Mao Zedong’s hands. He felt free to pursue China’s socialist transformation the way he thought best. Mao took advantage of Khrushchev’s predicament to assert China’s claim to leadership in the communist world.
Maud Anne Bracke
Around 1968 communism expanded as a global movement, especially in the developing world, while hitting a crisis of legitimation in Europe. In the Western world the late 1960s saw young people aspiring to revolutionary change that involved both individual liberation and social justice. Generational identity underpinned a revolt against authority, leading to acute political crises in France, Italy, and elsewhere. While presenting opportunities to communist parties, this revolt threatened, from Moscow’s perspective, a dangerous proliferation of ‘heterodox’ Marxist thought. In Eastern Europe rebellious populations in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia demanded greater rights of expression, causing the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Czechoslovakia. By contrast, Maoism was able to capture the revolutionary, anti-imperialist spirit of the times. Claiming to offer an anti-bureaucratic alternative to the Soviet model, and resituating heroic agency at the heart of communist politics, Maoism appealed to Third World revolutionary leaders and radicals in the West.
The essay argues that the story of 1989 can be told either as a narrow or a wide story. The narrow story focuses on the end of communism, the unification of Germany, and the subsequent integration of former communist states into the European Union. It works especially well for Central and Eastern Europe, although it also has implications for regimes in Africa that relied on Soviet support. However, it also requires considerable qualification, given the survival of communist regimes in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and elsewhere. In the second, wide version of the story, 1989 brings to visibility processes that had been at work for several decades, undermining the power blocs of the Cold War era and the territorially defined polities on which the system of international relations rested. In this story 1989 is of as much relevance to the West as to the former Eastern Bloc. The essay looks at both stories in relation to Gorbachev and perestroika, the US role in the end of the Cold War, German unification, the singing revolution in the Baltic, and 1989 in China and Cuba.
This analysis of the origins of the Second World War in Europe challenges several key ideas of the historiography: the ‘thirty years war’ thesis, the notion of a European civil war, and the stereotyping of the 1930s as a seemingly unstoppable rush to war after the internationalism of the 1920s. There was no sharp contrast between decades—the period only makes sense as a whole. Churchill’s ‘unnecessary war’ was preventable. Alternatives to appeasement existed. Though the study of war origins starts with Hitler, his policies were decisively shaped by the actions of others and the instability of an international system, heavily impacted by the Great Depression and ideology. Miscalculation rather than design explains the war of 1939. The outbreak of war should not obscure the significance of the 1930s as a laboratory for ideas and institutions that came to fruition after 1945 and which continue to shape international society.
This article focuses on the historiography of abolition and antislavery. Abolitionism is an idea, articulated through language that emerged in the eighteenth century and propelled people to act. It ultimately changed the world. People came to believe that God had endowed all humans with the inalienable right to be free and that slavery was an intolerable evil that must be abolished. Most scholars agree with this basic definition of abolitionism. But they have long disagreed about its significance and the process by which the idea led to action and political change. The discussion covers the age of gradual abolitionism (1770s–1820s), gradual abolition in the British Caribbean and French Caribbean, the age of immediate abolitionism (1820s–1860s), the French abolition movement, and the road to civil war and emancipation in the United States.
Peter R. Campbell
This article argues that in spite of absolute monarchy's success in seemingly rising above society it developed claims and practices that ran counter to long-term representative tendencies contained within its own structures. It was never able to suppress these, nor did it intend to, because they remained enshrined in corporate society itself, on which it was based. Although the corporate society of the old regime was very hierarchical, its elites retained a large measure of autonomy in their own spheres. This sense of independence and the continued vitality of privilege provided fertile ground for a revival of conciliarist and later commonwealth arguments, and a historical belief in an ancient constitution. These arguments in favour of limited royal power eventually empowered an opposition that was able to take advantage of the excesses and contradictions that characterized some of the practices of absolute monarchy, whose power to enforce its central will was somewhat illusory.
A. Shapur Shahbazi
Reinforced Assyrian invasions from the mid-eighth century prompted Iranian tribes to consolidate at local states. Thus, while the Medes strain consolidated around King Deioces, Persians (southern Iran) gathered around the banner of Achaemenes, who finally found the Achaemenid dynasty. By the time of the second monarch, Cyrus I, the Assyrians had controlled total supremacy over the Achamaenids. Redemption came with Cyaxares, the new leader under whom Achaemenid forces, jointly with the Babylonians, vanquished the Assyrians and hence ascended to superpowerdom. Cyrus II, being born out of wedlock between Persia and Media, which together formed the entire Persian Empire, the first world empire, became a conglomerate of Median and Persian rule. The restive state of Babylonia was exploited by Cyrus, whose occupation of the latter is termed as “peaceful and disciplined.” The Cyrus Cylinder, a royal proclamation recording the details, is assumed as derived from the Assyrian kinds.
The phrase “digital revolution” is frequently used in both popular and academic discourse to describe the multiple contexts of our increasingly electronically enriched and computer-dependent society. The essence of this article happens to be achieving the promise of oral history in a digital age. In oral history and other academic areas utilizing the interview as a central methodological element, the “digital revolution” specifically refers to the mainstream integration of digital technologies into all facets of the oral history process—in the field, in the archive, and in the distribution of the interview content. This article explores how digital technologies have significantly impacted and have become integral to the recording of oral history, as well as to the dual archival imperatives of access and preservation. Digital video recording started playing a pivotal role in practices of oral history by the twentieth century. Oral history has always been bound to technology, and technologies will forever change.
David A. Teegarden
This chapter provides an analytical framework for interpreting the history of tyrannicide in ancient Greece. It first explores the Athenians’ idealization of Harmodius and Aristogeiton—two Athenian tyrannicides—during the late archaic and early classical periods. Next, it analyzes the subsequent promotion of tyrannicide outside of Athens: on the Greek mainland in the late classical period; in western Asia Minor during the early Hellenistic period; in the Peloponnesus during the third century B.C.E. Finally, it accounts for the popularity of tyrannicide in ancient Greek political culture, arguing that such acts helped democracy supporters mobilize against nondemocratic regimes and were not considered to be problematic.
‘Advanced’ agriculture must be advanced relative to something and by some criteria. There is no consensus on what those criteria are, though certainly high yields per acre, and perhaps per labor hour, would be likely choices. Meanwhile, attempts to change or remove supposedly ‘backward’ farmers have recurred over the last few centuries, sometimes causing catastrophes. This article distinguishes between ‘advanced organic agriculture’ which was commercialized, often specialized, intensive in its use of labor and/or capital, and relatively high-yielding per acre but was not a big user of machinery or products of modern chemical industries and ‘energy-intensive agriculture’ which appeared in a few places in the 1800s, but reached most of the world only after 1945.
Kamran Scot Aghaie
The intermediate period marking the transition from the Safavid to the Qajar dynasty was punctuated by widespread turmoil and varied bids to power. This interlude was strongly dominated by the Afghan factor. Two Afghans of humble origins, Nader Quli Khan Afshar and Karim Khan Zand, established rule over large swathes of Safavid domain. Although their reign succumbed almost immediately posthumously, the influence hurtled untill the nineteenth century, the era of the Qajars. The complex political rivalries in the region of Khorasan, bordering Afghanistan, led to the Afghan invasion of the Safavid domain of Isfahan in 1722. The defeat of the Safavid Qizilbash troops and the fall of Herat to the invading Abdali Afghans emboldened the Afghan siege, commandeered by Mahmud Ghilzai. The ascension of Nadir Shah to monarchy was marked by betrayal, violence, and cunningness. His domain stretched from Russian-controlled Caucasus to Delhi in the East. In contrast, Karim Khan's twenty odd years of reign were mostly marked with fighting off various adversaries.
This chapter examines the impact of the Cold War on Africa. It explains that while Africa is the least-known Cold War battleground, the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba became embroiled in the internal affairs of countless African countries. The chapter analyzes the ideologies, practices, and interests of these main external actors and describes the four major arenas of conflict that are representative of broad trends in Cold War intervention in Africa. It also discusses how the Cold War altered the dynamics of local struggles, created unprecedented levels of destruction and widespread instability, and contributed to many of the problems that plague Africa today.
David B. Mattingly and Kevin MacDonald
This article examines early urban societies in Africa. It emphasizes three key issues: the strikingly wide geographical range and structural variety of urban forms; the apparent dichotomy between more hierarchical and more heterarchical urban societies; the contrasting functions of towns in the service of state formation or inter-regional exchange. The earliest cities in Africa are linked to the great rivers of the continent, in particular the Nile and the Niger. There have also been significant urban expressions along the Mediterranean seaboard, or on the Red Sea and East African coast, where contact with neighbouring civilizations was part of the context. Yet, African urban forms assume a dazzling array of expressions, confounding traditional expectations of normative Old World archetypes of what defines ‘urban’.
Inquiries into commodification, social distinction, and fashion have offered fresh perspectives on social relations and cultural formations in Africa. Imported consumer goods were both elemental to social relationships and a cornerstone of Africa's global interfaces. This article explores how the social dynamics of consumer demand in Africa were shaped by, and gave shape to, larger social, economic, and political relationships from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. This approach underscores the interrelation of African cultural imperatives and histories of globalization. Focusing on East Africa in the late nineteenth century, the article begins with a snapshot of consumer trends before the nineteenth century. It then examines three dimensions of consumption in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century: marketing consumer objects, the social relations of consumption, and the ways manufacturers accommodated African consumer demand. Taken together, these themes augment our understanding of social change in Africa, contribute to wider reflections on consumption as a mode of trans-societal relation, and highlight how manufactured objects can be conceptually and physically transformed throughout their global life cycles.
The transatlantic slave trade peaked in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, when more than 80,000 slaves annually were being shipped from Africa for the Americas. This overshadowed the older-established trade in slaves northwards from West Africa across the Sahara Desert to the Muslim world, which was probably under 10,000 annually. Despite the long history of commerce, direct European involvement in Africa remained limited. In contrast to the Americas, European colonial occupation of African territory was minimal before the later nineteenth century. Some African states maintained diplomatic relations with their trading partners across the Atlantic. The operation of the Atlantic trade had the effect of linking up different parts of Africa with each other, as well as with Europe and the Americas. The autonomous (or northern-oriented) character of the West African historical process might seem to be self-evidently illustrated by one of the major developments of this period, a series of jihads, or ‘Islamic Revolutions’, in which Muslim clerics seized power from existing ruling groups.
This article describes the origins of Africa; the ‘First Great Transition’ of human history from foraging to food production; the era of agricultural elaboration; the ‘Second Great Transition’, from villages and tiny local political units to towns and states; early towns and states in West Africa and the Horn of Africa; the era of empires, and Africa in the Atlantic Age. To view Africa over the very long term is to discover that the notable developments of Africa's past followed similar pathways and proceeded at similar paces as comparable changes elsewhere in the world. Two great transitions of human history in the Holocene — from foraging to farming and, several thousand years later, from villages and informal governance to towns and states — shows that Africa was a continent of primary invention in those times.
Which of the major components of the Atlantic world — the Americas, Africa, and Europe — was most immediately affected by the integration of the Old and New Worlds that Columbian contact triggered? On epidemiological grounds alone the Americas would be the choice of most scholars, with Europe, at least prior to the eighteenth century, the least affected. In terms of dramatic economic, demographic, and social consequences of the early stages of Atlantic integration, Africa lies somewhere between the two. Yet if we shift the focus to changes in the nature and size of connections between the continents as opposed to changes within them, the most striking developments between the 1640s and the 1770s relate to Africa, not Europe or the Americas. The Slave Coast was a major supplier of slaves to transatlantic markets. West Central Africa, by far the largest supplier of slaves to the Americas, experienced two diasporas. Captives from the northern ports went to the colonies of northern Europeans, those from Luanda and Benguela in the south went to Brazil. By the end of the third quarter of the eighteenth century, the transatlantic slave trade was close to the highest level it was ever to attain.
Africa is the continent least associated with cities and it is the least urbanized today. The maps of early modern Europe reflect this bias, with elephants and other beasts featured in place of towns to fill in unknown spaces. However, towns have a long history in parts of Africa. This article begins by discussing the early cities in Africa. It then considers the colonial era, and suggests that the layered nature of urbanization over time sees decline in some urban networks but a rapid growth in cities along the lines of new economic forces, reflecting the power of both capitalist-inclined and racist ideas. In the challenges they began to raise to the forms put into play, the African masses began the process of urban reconstruction. The final sections cover the last half century, more or less, since the end of colonialism.