History seminars at the IHR

Rethinking Modern Europe

This seminar is generously sponsored by Lord Tugendhat

PlamperConvenors:  Dr. Dejan Djokic (Goldsmiths); Dr. Celia Donert (Liverpool); Dr. Alex Drace-Francis (Amsterdam); Dr. Simon Jackson (Birmingham); Professor Stephen Lovell (KCL); Professor Lucy Riall (EUI Florence); Dr. Jan Rüger (Birkbeck); Dr. Christian Goeschel (Manchester)

Venue: Room N304, 3rd floor, IHR, North block, Senate House unless otherwise stated

Time: Wednesday, 5:30pm

Some podcasts from this Seminar are available online


Summer Term 2016
DateSeminar details
26 April 'The Muses of War: Terror, Anger, and Faith during the Bombing of British and Japanese Cities, 1940-1945'

Dr Aaron Moore (University of Manchester)

The bombing war was an attack on urban citizens that was largely new to human history, producing many strange effects and experiences. The soldiers’ battlefield was distant, but in an age of ‘total war’ mobilisation the enemy’s targets included the civilian population; in both Japan and Britain, this could be baffling to ordinary people, who were more accustomed to the idea of adult male servicemen facing the threat of death in some far-flung ‘no man’s land’. This lecture will aim to compare the civilian narratives of urban residents in Britain and Japan, with a special focus on regional cities including Coventry, Aomori, Hull, Kōfu, Bristol, and Nagoya, as well as ‘second cities’ such as Osaka and Manchester. Because national governments were committed to defending their capitals, regional cities were sometimes more thoroughly subjected to enemy bombardment. For vulnerable urban residents, even though they understood the cause of their suffering to be the enemy’s modern military technology, the sudden descent of fire from the skies inspired superstitious, religious, and magical views in personal documents. The conflation of aerial bombardment with emotional responses and supernatural beliefs across both Britain and Japan suggests that their urban residents were similarly unready for the transformation of the home front into the battlefront, drawing from a variety of discourses in order to make sense of this new kind of warfare.

Chair: Naoko Shimazu (Birkbeck)

A Joint session with the Rethinking Modern Europe and Comparative Histories of Asia seminars

Venue: Court Room, 1st floor, South block, Senate House

11 May Settler colonialism and the Protestant Bible: Ben-Gurion reads the Book of Joshua

Gabriel Piterberg (UCLA / EUI)

Chair: Christian Goeschel (Manchester)

This presentation is a close reading of David Ben-Gurion's biblical exegesis in context. It is underlain by the recognition that national histories, and specifically settler-national histories, are unique but unexceptional. I show that Ben-Gurion's biblical project and reading of the Book of Joshua in the 1950s were morphologically settler-Protestant, and that they did not emanate in any obvious or immanent way from Judaism. I further argue that the context within which Ben-Gurion's obsession with the Book of Joshua should be understood is the conquest of most of Palestine in the 1948 war and the concomitant expulsion of the the vast majority of the indigenous Palestinian population