In the readings, different perspectives were given regarding ‘the scramble for Africa’. Colonial scholars of the period propagated the idea that native Africans were somewhat barbaric and backward, and that they need guidance from a more civilized people. This assessment is not totally untrue, for Africa (then and now) remains technologically backward, although cultural backwardness is a subjective call. But colonial scholarship will have to be viewed with skepticism, for often it tends to be propagandistic. The internal dynamics of Europe during the period lends credence to the theory that Africa was just another theatre for European power politics. The ‘scramble for Africa’ happened at a time when advances in Naval technology enabled Britain, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Portugal, etc to set imperial sights on far off lands. Hence the view that ‘benevolence’ was the basis of European motivations with respect to Africa is factually and logically feeble. To the . . . Read More
Pablo Picasso is one of the pre-eminent artists of the twentieth century, having mastered various art forms such as painting, sculpting, print-making, ceramic-making and stage designing. Alongside Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp, Picasso is considered to have revolutionized plastic arts in the early part of the twentieth century. He is also credited with co-founding the Cubist movement and constructed sculpture. The invention of collage is also attributed to him. Although Picasso is a house-hold name across the world, his political views and affiliations are not as well-known as his artistic accomplishments. His political commitments have been one of the most underexplored areas of his life and work. (Kiaer, 2003, p.395) But new scholarship and evidence from exhibitions identify the political facet of Pablo Picasso. This essay will argue that though not much publicized or documented Picasso held strong political beliefs. This is evident from the events of his personal life and the . . . Read More
The Haitian revolution is the years of conflict during 1791 to 1804 between the white settlers and the enslaved black population. The French colony of Saint-Domingue was the center-stage of this revolution, which resulted in the mass murder of thousands of white people and led to the liberation of Haiti from the grips of colonialism. The Haitian Revolution carries a lot of historical significance because it is one of the rare instances where African slaves successfully over-powered their European colonizers and achieved independence.
Needless to say, such a comprehensive overhaul would not have been possible without violent revolt. Although the revolution was seen as a radical transformation, this illusion gradually dissipated in the subsequent years as new holders of power established a system of elite rule not much different from the colonial rule. Indeed, even during the revolution, it was mulattoes who assumed prominent leadership roles in the fight for liberation. Later, . . . Read More
The First World War, also called the Great War would shake-up then existing power equations within Europe and prime the region for the Second World War two decades later. While America’s participation in the latter was more substantial than the former, it nevertheless played a crucial supportive role to its conventional allies. It’s support to the French cause would prove to be a major factor in the eventual outcome of the war. Robert Bruce’s book titled The Fraternity of Arms: America and France in the Great War traces this alliance and places it in the historical, political, ideological and imperialist contexts. (Thesis) Carefully researched and meticulously documented, the book offers new insights into officially recognized events and behind-the-scene realpolitik manoeuvrings during the war. More importantly, it is unique in terms of its historiography, adding new dimensions to the study of history.
Where the book diverges from other . . . Read More
The book titled The French Mathematician by Tom Petsinis is one of the best of its genre. It is not often that biographies are written in the form of fiction. The author, having adopted the form of novel for this work, captures the essence of the character of Evariste Galois, the brilliant young French Mathematician whose life was cut short at the tender age of 21. The author carries the extra burden of using a first person narrative in the novel, whereby his imagination tries to capture the psyche and style of Galois. Though literary license would smudge some of the facts about the subject, it succeeds in showcasing the essential qualities of Galois’ personality and achievements. For a project such as this, the lack of abundant primary resources can be an advantage. Contrary to confining the author with established facts about the subject and the backdrop, it releases the author to fill up the blanks using creative imagination. And Persinis uses his creative talent to not . . . Read More
The uprising in France against an oppressive aristocracy and the American declaration of independence from an unfair British rule are two major events of modern world history. In this respect, both events were revolutions for freedom and share many aspects. The implications of these two revolutions go beyond France and America, for modern electoral democracy effectively began as a consequence. The rest of this essay will compare and contrast these two major historical events.
The revolution in America preceded that in France by a decade or so. It effectively began in 1763 when people of the American colonies revolted against the principle of taxation without representation. Although the colonies were self-governed from thirty years earlier, the straining relationship with the British crown became more acute with the passage of each new tax law. The series of tax laws, including the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act and the Currency Act aggravated the grievances of an already . . . Read More
Immigration has always been a contentious issue in British polity, with public opinion neither completely for it nor against it. The nature and complexion of immigration to the UK has undergone a radical change since the economic integration of European nations and the enacting of common European Union laws. Ever since the New Labour ascended to power under the leadership of Tony Blair, the British government has been confronted with the challenging task of pleasing its indigenous people while not affronting immigrants. This essay will assess the immigration situation in the UK and what can be expected of the recent and proposed policy changes in this area.
If we accept the precept that public opinion is a driving force for policy changes, then the outlook for immigrants does not look promising. A survey conducted by Channel4’s Dispatches, in collaboration with YouGov titled ‘The survey for Immigration: The Inconvenient . . . Read More
The Age of Enlightenment was a period in early modern history when western societies, led by its intellectuals, made a marked shift from religion based authority to one of scientific reason. Prior to this period, the Church and the State were intricately interlinked; and the Enlightenment sought to sever states and politics from religion through the application of rational analysis based on scientific observation and facts. This movement traces its origins to the seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. Similar undercurrents of scientific expression were seen in the New World as well, most notably from such intellectuals such as Tom Paine and other proponents of American independence. The rest of the essay will foray into the wider implications of the Enlightenment and try to capture its significance to the academia of today.
The Enlightenment has had a profound impact on the cultural evolution of Western Europe in particular and the whole of the continent in . . . Read More