Talking History in Politics is a space for constructive and respectful debate around conversations between the disciplines of history and politics. We encourage diversity of opinion through our open blog submission section which can be found on our ‘Contact Us’ page and is monitored for selection by our editorial team. The articles featured present the views of the writer only; opinions expressed are not a reflection of the views and beliefs of the History in Politics Society.
University of Edinburgh historian Donald Bloxham has provided much food for thought in his recent article for the March edition of BBC History Magazine, entitled ‘Why History Must Take a Stance’. In it, he challenges the dogmatic insistence on neutrality that pervades the historical profession. Instead of feigning an unattainable neutrality, he argues, historians should … Continue reading Judging the Past: Can We Really Afford Not To?
It is often assumed that we in the ‘West’ are the arbiters of environmental policy, that we simply ‘care more’ than the rest of the world. ‘China’, for many, evokes images of flat-pack cities and rapid industrialisation synonymous with the stain left by humanity on the natural world. It is lazily viewed as an outlying … Continue reading The Environment Has No Ideology: Debating Which System Works Best is Inherently Flawed
Democracy and equality under the law have increasingly come to be seen as the gold-standard for structuring societies ever since the enlightenment. it may therefore appear odd to some that the United Kingdom, the ‘mother of parliamentary democracy’, is still reigned over by a monarchy. Stranger still is that despite the drastic decline in the … Continue reading Is It Time For An Elected Head of State?
What a strange year. April might seem like an even stranger time to reflect, one month after the anniversary of the first Coronavirus lockdown, but it also seems astute as the easing of lockdown starts to open up our futures. With pubs starting to open, vaccines being delivered, and being officially allowed back to university, … Continue reading The Future Unlocked?
Putin’s propaganda machine was laid bare for all to see last month with the return of Russian dissident Alexey Navalny, after recovering from nerve agent poisoning. The Kremlin initially refrained from commenting on the activist, however as his video detailing Putin’s Black Sea palace was released and protests in support of him erupted across Russia, … Continue reading General Secretary Putin— the Use of History by Russia’s Regime
John Stuart Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ is a classic statement of liberal values and an iconic text in the arena of moral and political thought. Published in 1859, it was originally conceived as a short essay upon which Mill and his wife, Harriet Taylor, fleshed out the liberal values and morality that still provide much of … Continue reading Book Review: J. S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’
Diamonds symbolise love, wealth, and commitment to both the purchaser and the recipient, after all, they are known to be a woman’s best friend. Yet, the process of retrieving such a valuable commodity remains a battleground for those who work in the diamond mines. Alongside diamond production, the construction of worker exploitation, violence, and civil … Continue reading Diamonds, Best Friend or Mortal Enemy?
Modern aversion to human rights protection in the United Kingdom can be seen on the surface of British politics, from Theresa May’s indignation that she was unable to deport an illegal immigrant because he had a pet cat, to Nigel Farage’s demand that we “scrap the EU Human Rights Act”. The modern rallying cry for … Continue reading The Cost of Casual Scepticism to Human Rights
The arrangement and preservation of knowledge about the past is ultimately a question of power. History is a process that both legitimates and reflects gender relations. For most of human history this process has been controlled by men. The notion of ‘men write history, but women live it’ ascribes gender relations at both a literal … Continue reading ‘Men write history, but women live it.’: Essay Competition Winner
Whilst the first Queen of England’s reign is largely overshadowed in favour of the other Tudors, namely her father Henry VIII and half-sister Elizabeth I, the historiographical interpretations of Mary I illuminate interesting notions associated with female leadership. Mary I was the first woman to ascend to the throne of England, as the succession of … Continue reading Mary I: The First Queen of England and the Legacy of Female Leadership
Political conflicts and situations of crises in a multitude of forms continue to mark our present. Indeed, early crisis prevention is a question so pertinent to our times that it has prompted researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany to explore an unusual method of conflict prediction: studying fictional literature of specific regions prone … Continue reading Seeing like Cassandra: a New Role for Literature in Political Risk Analysis?
Arguably the most iconic arena in the world, Il Colosseo still stands at the very centre of modern Rome as a testament to both the glory and the cruelty of the Roman Empire. Constructed almost two thousand years ago, around six million people still flock to Italy’s capital to explore the history and grandeur of … Continue reading The Colosseum: A Political Tool
The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, heralding a new era of peace after the decades of violence that characterised the Troubles. But who benefitted the most from the signing of the Agreement, and is the answer different today than it was twenty years ago? For unionists, represented most prominently by the Democratic Unionist … Continue reading Who Won the Good Friday Agreement?
The idea of celebrity was conceived within the Romantic period, in part, through the prominent figure of Lord Byron. Following the French Revolution there was an increased focus on the individual and this was epitomized in the emerging figure of the celebrity. With the surge in publishing technology there was, according to historian Tom Mole, … Continue reading Lord Byron, Celebrity
The past is a powerful weapon, one that in the wrong hands has the potential to tear asunder the present. Its utility is one that spans the political spectrum, and propagandists have long recognised its appeal. The most effective appropriation of the past as a tool of persuasion has undoubtedly been central to the exclusionary … Continue reading History as a Tool of Fascist Revolution
Portraits of sovereigns were always conceived with a political function in mind. Monarchs used their official portraits to cultivate an image of majesty, prestige, and royal authority, a key component in the broader construction of an inherently politicised royal public image. Whilst there is a discourse within the existing art-historical scholarship that seeks to depoliticise … Continue reading The Painted Word – Political Allegory in Early Modern Royal Portraiture
Thatcher’s lasting impact on twenty-first century feminism is widely debated. Whilst her actions have inspired future generations of ambitious young women in all professions, Thatcher was undoubtedly not a feminist. In fact, she actively disliked and directly discouraged feminist movements. Thus, Margaret Thatcher works as an apt example that a successful woman does not always … Continue reading Margaret Thatcher: A Feminism Icon?
In 1849 the world met its first female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell. Years later in 1903, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Marie Curie, did so for her outstanding contributions to Physics. How, with many more remarkable achievements behind women, does society continue to hold limited expectations of them? Why does the concept of … Continue reading Women in Terrorism: An Invisible Threat?
When we think of feminism, we think of women holding strongly coloured flags of green, white and gold or green, white and purple in historical photos. We think of women and girls who spoke on the news demanding equal opportunities, more provision of pregnancy and abortion advice and the liberation of females in third world … Continue reading Four “Non-feminist” Feminists in British history
“It’s got to go,” asserted Democratic presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, when speaking of the electoral college in 2019 – reflecting a growing opposition to the constitutional process, which has been only heightened by the chaotic events of the past weeks. Rather than simply reiterating the same, prosaic arguments for the institution’s removal – the potential … Continue reading Does the Electoral College Serve the Democratic Process?
Tensions are rising between France and the Arab world. The last few weeks has seen protests in Libya, Syria and the Gaza Strip, along with calls for a boycott of French goods in many Middle Eastern countries. This growing tension comes in the wake of the brutal, horrific murder of a French school teacher named … Continue reading France and the Arab World: A Tale of Tension
The Trump-Biden debates are wrapped up, and for the “Worst Year Ever” they didn’t disappoint. The first debate was widely condemned as the “Worst Debate Ever”. Both candidates talked over each other, and it was near-impossible to understand them. Biden faced calls to boycott the other debates. Trump made this decision for him, falling ill … Continue reading Debates Take On a Different Meaning in the “Worst Year Ever”
The construction of historical narratives and the pedagogic authority they hold has been vital in cultivating a sense of legitimacy with those engaged in violent practices in a geo-political conflict. In fact, these narratives are part of violence itself. Although media and education systems usually hold a significant grip on the dissemination of the teaching … Continue reading Why Does History Help Explain Geo-Political Conflicts?
Do you know the story of Arsinoe, a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a rebel against the Romans and the sibling of the infamous Cleopatra? No? That is because history is written by the victors. Arsinoe has always been overshadowed by her older and more seductive sister in our historical records, but this article will … Continue reading Arsinoe of Egypt: A Retelling of The Royal Rebel Against Rome
You cannot understand the confirmation process of Amy Coney Barrett without understanding that of Robert Bork. Nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1987, Bork was a polarising figure, known for his disdain for the supposed liberal activism of the court. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, deeming Bork to be too radical for the court, turned away from … Continue reading What Will Happen Now Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Dead?
Anne Boleyn is an enigma. Contemporaries and historians alike have painted this infamous ‘beheaded’ second wife of Henry VIII as a ‘noble lady,’ ‘a whore,’ ‘an innocent victim,’ ‘a scandal of Christendom,’ and whilst the list of juxtaposing descriptions about the woman with ‘a long neck,’ ‘middling stature’ and ‘black and beautiful’ eyes could go … Continue reading Anne Boleyn: A Forgotten Victim of ‘Fake News’?
‘You Can Get Rid of the Mines, But You Can’t Get Rid of the Miners’: Industrial Legacy and Contemporary Identity in Durham
Durham’s coal mines closed throughout the 1980s, despite dissent from local communities and mining unions. This was not an anomaly – under Conservative rule, mines were shut throughout the nation, yet these were largely concentrated in the North. As a result, a significant regional divide in unemployment, poverty, and general desolation was created. And yet, … Continue reading ‘You Can Get Rid of the Mines, But You Can’t Get Rid of the Miners’: Industrial Legacy and Contemporary Identity in Durham
‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, George Santayana wrote these words forgetting that human nature contains a propensity for evil just as it does for good. Being aware of the evils of the past does not prevent evil deeds. China’s totalitarian socialist political system has continued its strangulation of … Continue reading Perpetrator of Evil: Uighurs in China
The government’s slogan of “Build, Build, Build”, coupled with radical reforms to the planning system, promises a utopia it will struggle to deliver. The reforms centre around deregulation, with the aim being to make it easier to build homes where people want to live. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick wrote in the Telegraph of the reforms … Continue reading Housing Reform: Not the Solution to a Prominent Problem
Gorillas, Galleries and Cage Fighting: How Visual Culture and Media Are Still Significant in Modern Politics
If a history student were to be asked about how visual culture and media can influence politics, they would surely think of examples such as British propaganda in the world wars, or the striking posters used in Nazi Germany. There is widespread agreement on the significant impact of this visual culture and media on people’s … Continue reading Gorillas, Galleries and Cage Fighting: How Visual Culture and Media Are Still Significant in Modern Politics
Monarchy and its Political Pomp and Circumstance The Glorious Revolution of 1688 implemented the constitutional monarchy of the UK that we know today, effectively limiting the political role of the Crown to mere pomp and circumstance. Yet, to this day, certain superfluous political liberties have remained. In practice, the sovereign still gives weekly counsel to … Continue reading Debate: Monarchy, a Relic or Required?
In recent months, racism in Britain has been widely discussed in the light of the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other people worldwide. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained poignancy, with many supporters risking their lives to protest against systemic racism during the Covid-19 pandemic. When discussing this issue with peers, … Continue reading Will Britain’s History Ever Transcend Empire?
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ Declaration of Independence, 1776 The American Dream. It is a belief professed in America’s culture, literature, advertising and schools; the … Continue reading Do the US Presidential Candidates Meet the ‘American Dream’?
The bare, granite landscape of the Sierra de Guadarrama in Spain gives way to a 3,000-acre woodland that is home to the country’s most controversial monument. Soaring an impressive 150-metres high is a granite cross, raised dramatically above the basilica and valley. Beneath the Valle de los Caídos, or the Valley of the Fallen, are … Continue reading Historical Narratives: The Glorified and the Silenced Narratives of Spanish History
Although separate disciplines, history and geography are tightly intertwined. While history attempts to examine human society, culture and experience through a temporal lense, geography does so through a spatial one. Physical geography and natural phenomena have undoubtedly influenced the course of history: the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, which caused massive global cooling, attests to … Continue reading Does History Link to Geography?
There’s a joke that goes as follows: ‘…and on the eighth day, God created the Middle East, and said “let there be breaking news”’. In this constant stream of events it can be hard to distinguish between the important and irrelevant – but make no mistake, mutual recognition between Israel and the United Arab Emirates … Continue reading Why Events in the Gulf Still Matter: Implications of Peace Between Israel and the UAE
The politicisation of food by Boris Johnson’s government has proved to be a highly controversial issue. Whilst the necessity of what has been described as an “obesity crackdown” has been supported by Public Health England, there has been backlash surrounding the government’s strategy. In particular, the lack of meaningful support for the most financially-disadvantaged have … Continue reading The Politics of Food: Modern Sumptuary Law?
This article will use Russian spellings of Belarusian names for the sake of consistency. When comparing the situation in Belarus today to the revolutions of 1989, we have to note that each country experienced a different revolution. Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians in the Baltics were trying to reverse the fifty-year long annexation of their nations … Continue reading Do Belarus’ Protests Suggest a Chance for Change, like the 1989 Revolutions in Eastern Europe?
Han Kang’s novel ‘Human Acts’ details just that: the experiences of a range of individuals suffering from the actions humans inflict on each other. The narrative flows through different times and places, centred around one boy, Dong-ho. Dong-ho is revealed to be based on a real child who the author was distantly connected to and … Continue reading Book Review: Han Kang’s ‘Human Acts’
13,000 fatalities. 3,300 dead civilians. These are the casualty numbers of a European war that seems like it could have taken place in the nineteenth century; nevertheless, it is de facto a war of the twenty-first century, and the numbers date from 2019. The war in Eastern Ukraine, sparked in 2014, continues to this day. … Continue reading Europe’s Hidden War: How Ukraine Struggles With Post-Soviet Nationalisms
Book Review: ‘The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence’ (2013) by Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros
This book has blown my mind. Honestly and truly, this is not an overstatement. The title itself encapsulates the purpose of the book, one which evidently drives every chapter. Gary Haugen, the book’s main author, is the founder of the International Justice Mission; a mass organisation that seeks to end the global injustice of human … Continue reading Book Review: ‘The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence’ (2013) by Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros
In March 1968, the Republic of Mauritius gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Despite the jubilation which ensued in the small Indian Ocean island nation, the coming of independence brought with it the territorial dismemberment of what was once Mauritius, a moral and legal injustice which still stands today. The decolonisation of Mauritius remains … Continue reading The Decolonisation of Mauritius Is Incomplete, It Must Now Come at All Costs
The explosion that ripped through Beirut on the evening of the 4th August 2020 is estimated to have had one tenth of the power of an atomic bomb. It immediately left over 300,000 people homeless, and destroyed or damaged more than 70,000 buildings. By the next morning, the main fire caused by the explosion was … Continue reading Trapped in History: The Plight of Lebanon
Having recently returned from the Orkney Isles, one thing that struck me was the strength and uniqueness of Orcadian identity. The people on the island do not identify as Scottish, but rather relate their belonging to ‘the Mainland’. This is not the Scottish mainland, which is a mere fourteen miles away, but the most populated … Continue reading Orcadian Identity
Through the Lens of Stolypin: Understanding Vladimir Putin’s Personal Politics through his Historical Idol
Few pictures hang on the walls of President Putin’s office, but the portrait of the third Prime Minister of Russia, Pyotr Stolypin is more prominent than the rest. Putin has publicly praised Stolypin on multiple occasions and he has become commonly known as the President’s idol. Following recent constitutional reform to keep Putin in power … Continue reading Through the Lens of Stolypin: Understanding Vladimir Putin’s Personal Politics through his Historical Idol
It is almost a yearly tradition: since 1994 tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia, both formerly part of the Soviet Union, have regularly exploded into brief military conflicts, leaving soldiers and civilians on both sides wounded and dead. The most recent clashes erupted in July 2020. With about a dozen casualties on both sides so far, … Continue reading Endless Conflict: Azerbaijan and Armenia
‘Accepting Violence and Violent Language Against Women:’ How Language is Used to Belittle Female Politicians
On Thursday the 23rd American Congresswoman for New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came before congress to call for a point of personal privilege. Ms. Cortez sought to address her recent confrontation with Republican Congressman Ted Yoho who was overheard by a member of the press as calling her a ‘f***ing b***h.’ Mr. Yoho has denied using … Continue reading ‘Accepting Violence and Violent Language Against Women:’ How Language is Used to Belittle Female Politicians
When we planned the third episode of the first series of History in Politics’ podcast Dead Current about peacebuilding and memory politics, we decided to begin by asking a broad question about peace in the world today versus peace in the world historically. And whilst we knew this question was challenging in that it is … Continue reading Defining Peace: Re-evaluating the Assumptions Behind the Term
In many countries it is criminal to deny the Holocaust; yet, many historians have argued heavily against this concept. Do laws like these, which are passed by parliaments, unjustifiably limit the freedom of expression? Or are they necessary in the remembrance of genocides, such as the Holocaust, or the Armenian genocide? Holocaust deniers either state … Continue reading Anti-Denial Laws: The Politics of Remembering
Although there are many distinct features of a Marc Chagall painting, it is the floating figures that are the artist’s most curious motif. In amongst the rich pastel colours and two-dimensional composition are people suspended in mid-air – an idea that features in some of his major works across his career, from 1915’s Birthday to … Continue reading The Floating Jew: Manifestations of Migration in Chagall’s Art
After 85 years as a secular museum, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decreed the 1,500 year old Hagia Sophia will return to its former use as a Mosque. Hagia Sophia represents Turkey’s varied history; for a thousand years, the dome covered the largest indoor space in the world and remains a focal point of the … Continue reading Deconstructing a Homage to Secularity: A Reflection of Turkey’s Changing Political Identity
Throughout history, journalism has been used for many different purposes. It has been used to promote public morale, provide an antidote to social depressions, and expose injustices by revealing the voices of the oppressed. However, in a world of fake news, important stories have been lost by the rapid pace of today’s journalism. We can … Continue reading The Decreasing Stamina of Provocative Journalism
“Strong people don’t need strong leaders” – The Continual Impact of Women in the Black Freedom Struggle
With the ongoing global protests against police brutality and systemic racism sparked by the murder of George Floyd, it is now more important than ever to look back at the history of the civil rights and black liberation movements. When we look at these movements, the work and contributions of women are often overlooked, although … Continue reading “Strong people don’t need strong leaders” – The Continual Impact of Women in the Black Freedom Struggle
My struggle with identity has led me to consider the multiple avenues in which these ongoing issues arose. One should not see this piece of writing as factually generalising an entire population of thirty thousand, but rather the one small blip that is my meandering experience. As my internal monologue pushes out these ideas, please … Continue reading The Crisis Surrounding Gibraltarian Identity
Whilst the #RhodesMustFall protests began over 5 years ago in South Africa and in the United Kingdom, misunderstanding has continued over movements to ‘decolonise the curriculum’. To ‘decolonise the curriculum’ means to question well established biases and gaps within teaching that limit our understanding of the world around us. Thus, the movement campaigns to give … Continue reading Decolonising the Curriculum
In a country ravaged by authoritarian socialism under dictator Nicolás Maduro, voicing opposition can be a death sentence. Freedom of speech and the right of expression are taken for granted where they exist, and it’s difficult for many in the West to envision a country whereby expressing a political opinion would endanger your own life … Continue reading A Knock in the Dark: Venezuela’s Human Rights Violations
Speaking in the West Midlands on Tuesday, Boris Johnson unveiled the broad outlines of his strategy to tackle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The Government’s unwillingness to issue an earlier lockdown at the end of March suggested their fear of the economic reverberations that a forced closure of retail, restaurants, and offices would … Continue reading A ‘Rooseveltian’ New Deal?
It has now been 75 years since the Second World War ended, and yet it remains an inescapable presence in today’s politics. Numerous anachronistic comparisons plagued both sides of the debate during the Brexit campaign. Those voting Leave celebrated the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ of Britain, while those voting Remain rendered the referendum another ‘Eden moment’. There … Continue reading The War That Never Ends
It has been a historic week for Ireland. After nearly 100 years, the Civil War divide appears to be coming to an end. Four months after a stunning election result, the newly formed government sees the two traditional parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, enter formal coalition with each other for the very first time. … Continue reading Ireland’s New Government Shows the Limits to History in Politics
The First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party (SNP), is currently substantially ahead of Boris Johnson in Scottish opinion polls, largely due to her comparatively steady-handed and rational approach to the coronavirus crisis. Despite recent developments, however, I am not won over by the argument for Scottish independence. This discourse is … Continue reading Scotland and England: The Irrevocable Divide
The tearing down of Edward Colston’s statue, and the defacing of many others, is not new. Love them or hate them, statues of gods, saints, heroes, and prominent individuals have always littered our streets. For as long as they have been in public locations, we have also challenged them; from melting down old Roman emperors, … Continue reading Is our obsession with Great Men helpful? And other questions…
Through the watchful eyes of the world’s media, it appears New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can do no wrong. As the youngest female leader in the nation’s history, and only the third woman in an endless trail of male governors, in recent days Ardern has become the envy of countless world leaders as she … Continue reading Why the World needs Female Leaders
Understanding the historical construction of LGBTQ+ movements is imperative to furthering current activism. A prime example of this is the creation of the ‘Stonewall Myth’, as the Stonewall riots are now revered as the catalyst for the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement in the US. Given the current situation in the US it seems more important … Continue reading What Stonewall 1969 can Teach Us About Activism
History does not look kindly on bystanders but we must not allow our fear of this to determine our reaction to injustice. The killing of George Floyd has emblazoned social media with messages of protest in solidarity with movements such as Black Lives Matter. Unlike those who came before us, we are able to broadcast … Continue reading George Floyd
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