Innovative course receives commendation from Royal Historical Society


An online course run by leading historians at the University of Exeter has received a commendation from the Royal Historical Society (RHS) for excellence in the field of public history.

The course, Empire: The Controversies of British Imperialism has been officially commended by the RHS as part of the Public History Prize; the first national prize for public history in the UK.

The commendation, given in the web and digital category, recognises the work being undertaken within the University’s Department of History to engage people with the past in innovative ways using a wide variety of resources to entice new audiences to history in all its forms.

Professor Richard Toye is a lead educator on the course and an expert in Imperial Britain from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Professor Toye said: “It is fantastic for the course to be recognised in this way by the RHS and this is a great way to raise the profile of this fast-growing field of study.

“The aim of the British Empire course is to really open up imperial history for everyone, making the subject accessible for all and keeping us in touch with our past. The course is open to anyone with an interest in history and does not require any previous experience of studying the subject. Along the way there is lots of opportunity for people to debate the questions they have raised and draw their own conclusions.”

The online course involves interactive online participation and will focus on attitudes of the British public towards the Empire; attitudes which were pivotal in its development and demise.

Participants on the six week course are guided through their study by experts from the University’s Centre for Imperial and Global History who make up one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK.

Peter Mandler, President of the Royal Historical Society said: “We live in something like a golden age of public history - a time when academics and other specialists work closely with journalists and the media and vice-versa to satisfy public interest in and raise public understanding of historical questions. The Royal Historical Society wants to recognize creativity and excellence in this booming field: to show that the public doesn't need to choose between edification and entertainment, between expertise and accessibility, between style and substance. We hope these prizes will draw further attention to the most impressive combinations of high-quality research and high-quality presentation”.

The Public History Prize judging panel comprised lead historians including Professor Mary Beard (Cambridge), Dr. Alix Green (Hertfordshire), Professor Aled Jones (National Library of Wales), Professor John Tosh (Roehampton) and Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham and Chair). The judges selected overall winners in the categories of film, broadcasting, museums and exhibitions, and website projects.

The commendation was presented to Professor Toye by Professor Amanda Vickery (Queen Mary, University of London) at an awards ceremony in London on Friday 27 November.

The next online course for Empire: The Controversies of British Imperialism begins on 11 January 2016. Anyone wishing to register for the course can visit the Future Learn website.

'Postwar Decolonisation and its Impact in Europe' conference, 2–3 Dec 2013

Held as part of Professor James Mark's project 'The Impact of Decolonisation on the Making of Post-war Europe', this conference will examine how the global dynamics of decolonisation had an impact not only on the ‘western core’ of the continent, but also in state socialist eastern Europe, and in southern Europe. For more information, please see the Centre's conference page, or the History conference page.

AHRC fellowship

Dr David Thackeray has been successful in receiving funding for an AHRC fellowship during 2014-15 for the project 'Imagining Britain's global economic future since 1900'. This project will investigate the foundations of the nation's identity and its reliance on external markets, developed through the historical development of international trade networks. It involves a large amount of research in the UK, Australasia, North America and South Africa.

ESRC Future Research Leaders grant

Dr Gareth Curless has recently been awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant (2013-16) for his project 'Labour, Industrial Unrest, and Decolonisation, 1939-66.' The aim of the scheme is to provide early-career social scientists with an opportunity to develop their research and knowledge exchange skills. Dr Curless will be affiliated to the Centre for Global and Imperial History, where he will work closely with his academic mentor and Centre Director Professor Andrew Thompson.

Using British Guiana, the Gold Coast and Malaya as case studies, the aim of Dr Curless's project is two-fold. Firstly, to document the causes of the labour protests that swept through the British Empire during the period of decolonisation. Here the project will investigate how social and economic inequities, combined with emerging international discourses relating to labour rights and anti-colonial nationalism, formed the basis for the labour mobilisation. Secondly, the project will explore the imperial authorities' response to the protests, documenting how colonial administrations sought to contain the unrest through the introduction of improved industrial relations machinery and social welfare infrastructure.

Drawing on archival work in the UK, Ghana, Guyana, Malaysia and Singapore, the project will also involve collaboration with the British Trades Union Congress and the Trade Union Forum at History & Policy. A conference on decolonisation is also planned for 2015.

Peking University research colloquium, 14–18 Oct 2013

A group from the University of Exeter, including many Centre members, are travelling to Peking University, China, to present papers as part of the research colloquium 'National History in the Context of Global History'. Academics attending include Professor Kate Fisher, Professor Simon Barton, Professor James Mark, Dr Robert Fletcher, Professor Mark Overton, Dr David Thackeray and Professor Henry French