With the SNP decimation of all other parties in Scotland, in the 2015 General Election, Irene Morra’s engaging study of popular music and Britishness is perhaps more poignant than she might have originally anticipated!
Today, a half-century after his death, Winston Churchill stands like a colossus over the political, diplomatic and military history of the 20th century, and of its most terrible armed conflict, the Second World War. The already voluminous number of historical studies devoted to him and his career continues to grow, and amounts to a full-blown industry – never mind the ‘cottage’ part.
Both as a historical focus and as a narrative vehicle of ‘otherness’, the depiction of technological marvels has often seemed tantalizingly vague. In Orientalist scholarship à la Said, it also ended up being ultimately irretrievable across the mutually reinforcing mirrors of East and West.
Angela Woollacott’s new book is a good example of the ways in which Australian historians are being influenced by recent approaches to British imperial history. Just as importantly it shows how the interests of scholars working in these hitherto largely separate fields have converged.
Historical scholarship has experienced a number of ‘shifts’ over the last three decades, with traditional concerns about politics and economics increasingly vying with newer ‘cultural-historical’ questions around language, meaning and subjectivity. Other innovations, such as spatial and transnational approaches to history, have also come to the fore.
Early in his study of radio in the USSR, Stephen Lovell quotes Rick Altman: ‘new technologies are always born nameless’ (p. 2). New technologies, that is to say, do not arrive with a self-evident purpose, and are understood initially relative to what already exists.
During his long and distinguished career David French, Professor Emeritus in the History Department at University College London, has published many highly respected works.(1) He has now added to this list with the exceptional Fighting EOKA: the British Counter-insurgency Campaign on Cyprus, 1955–1959.
Susan Pedersen’s title misleads. The unwary might think that it deals generally with the League and imperialism, centring on the well-known paradox that an institution created primarily to ensure stability in Europe was undermined and then effectively destroyed by its failure to stop imperialist aggression in Asia and Africa.
Is ‘Anglican Enlightenment’ – like ‘compassionate conservatism’ - a contradiction in terms, as Dr Bulman tells us a British academic once informed him (p. xi)? Having been offered the radical, conservative and a whole slew of national enlightenments in recent years, we now have the paradoxical enlightenment.
Somewhat late in the day, Tate Britain has got around to an exhibition about the British Empire and its legacies.