How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.
It has become a commonplace to assert that biographies are unfashionable these days. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, even for English history (female subjects certainly buck the trend), but there is no doubt that they are still the staple of Scottish history, particularly when it comes to the middle ages.
It was once a truism of modern British historiography that the history of the Conservative party was grievously understudied. This has not been the case for some time: things began to change with the pioneering work of the late John Ramsden in the 1970s, and then from the 1980s as historians such as Philip Williamson began to offer significant reassessments of aspects of the party’s past.
The London Zoological Society was founded in 1826 by Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir Humphrey Davy, emerging at a time when interest in collecting and displaying human and nonhuman fragments of the natural world was intensifying.
In 1862, Henry Littlejohn was appointed to the newly created position of Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for Edinburgh. Three years later, he published a Report on the Sanitary Condition of Scotland’s capital city, then home to more than 170,000 people.
In western Europe – thus runs one of the standard narratives of medieval history – it is only after c.1200 that we really find the beginnings of administrative bureaucracies, which allowed for the growth of centralised governments, and were fed by the rise of professional law, enabled by growing literacy at various levels of society, and were one of the key elements in what John Watts
Over the last three decades, histories of popular politics in Latin America have proliferated. It is not hard to understand why. Elections and liberalism loomed large in the present, and so their history began to assume more importance. Larger trends in the discipline reinforced the shift, as historians tipped the interpretive scales away from socio-economic structures and towards agency.
Alcohol policy never ceases to be controversial.
Introducing a 1996 translation of Alain Corbin’s now seminal work on the history of scent, The Foul and the Fragrant, Roy Porter lamented that ‘today’s history comes deodorized’.(1) As Jonathan Reinarz shows in this historical synthesis of recent work on the history of smell, Porter’s complaint has since been enthusiastically answered.
The beginnings of Europe is not a very complicated historical subject. After the end of Roman domination in the fifth century CE, so-called ‘successor states’ grew up in the territories and around the margins of what had been the Western Roman Empire, and out of those states grew France, Spain, Italy and (with greater complications) England and Germany.