As even the most casual observer of the British historical scene must know, the 'agricultural revolution' has proved both elusive and highly contentious. French 'immobilism', on the other hand, has become something of a commonplace, although explanations for this supposed failure are less consensual. Philip Hoffman's very welcome new book has two overriding merits.
In the last twenty years or so there have been great transformations in the historiography of modern South Asia. It would not be too crude an exaggeration to say that no western historian of much intellectual ambition engaged with the subject from James Mill in the early nineteenth century until after the second world war, while Indian historians were little known outside the subcontinent.
For at least the first half of the twentieth century, Scottish history could be said to have stopped in 1707. The history of the Scottish nation was the history of Bruce, Wallace and the Douglases; of knights in armour, cross-border warfare and corrupt priests.
By official decree, Brazil celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2000: the modern history of the country dating from April, 1500, when a fleet commanded by Pedro Alvares Cabral anchored at Porto Seguro on the north-east coast of Bahia.
Eddy Higgs’s work on the census is much valued, not least because he is both a working, researching and publishing historian as well as an experienced archivist.
Recent historiography on the ascendance of colonial rule in India has shifted from a mode of investigating the contours of colonial power to looking at the fissures of imperial governance.