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British Empire



  • History Museum Explores Germans’ View of Britain

    by The Associated Press

    As Brexit looms, one of Germany’s main history museums is examining Germans’ views of the British, complete with a countdown clock that may be reset if Britain’s departure from the European Union is delayed.



  • The Original Evil Corporation

    by William Dalrymple

    The East India Company, a trading firm with its own army, was masterful at manipulating governments for its own profit. It’s the prototype for today’s multinationals.



  • The British Empire is 'something to be proud of'

    By three to one, British people think the British Empire is something to be proud of rather than ashamed of – they also tend to think it left its colonies better off, and a third would like it to still exist.



  • Gibraltar frontier conflict causing frustration for locals

    Bobbing on the port captain's launch off the coast of Gibraltar on Tuesday there was no evidence of how this calm stretch of sea could have caused such an international storm. A handful of craft fishermen cast their nets, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 10 metres below their dinghies lay the unlikely catalyst for a political row that has embroiled David Cameron in the UK's bitterest battle with Spain over "the Rock" since Franco.Here, late last month, Gibraltar dumped an artificial reef on a fishing ground favoured by Spanish scallop dredgers. Now the ripples from those dozens of concrete blocks are rocking a 300 year old British enclave that for some is an emblematic imperial redoubt and for others an awkward colonial hangover.On Tuesday Gibraltar said it was preparing for legal action against Madrid over its retaliation for the reef, which has taken the form of a frontier control go-slow that has caused residents to queue for up to six hours in scorching summer temperatures. Gibraltar has accused Spain of inhumane behaviour and is gathering evidence that could be used at the European Court of Human Rights....



  • Paul Pirie: The American Revolution Was a Flop

    Paul Pirie, a former historian, is a freelance writer in Ontario.The easiest way of assessing whether the United States would have been better off without its revolution is to look at those English-speaking countries that rejected the American Revolution and retained the monarchy, particularly Canada, which experienced an influx of American refugees after the British defeat. The U.S. performance should also be assessed against the ideals the new country set for itself — namely, advancing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.



  • David M. Anderson: Atoning for the Sins of Empire

    David M. Anderson, a professor of African history at the University of Warwick, is the author of “Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire.”WARWICK, England — THE British do not torture. At least, that is what we in Britain have always liked to think. But not anymore. In a historic decision last week, the British government agreed to compensate 5,228 Kenyans who were tortured and abused while detained during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s. Each claimant will receive around £2,670 (about $4,000).



  • Timothy Stanley: The British Must Not Rewrite the History of the Mau Mau Revolt

    Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."The Government has announced that Kenyans abused by British colonial forces during the Mau Mau uprising of the 1950s will receive compensation totalling £20 million, and that it regrets the “suffering and injustice”. Be of no doubt: these people went through terrible things. Wambuga Wa Nyingi, a former detainee at the bloody camp Hola, who says he was not a Mau Mau fighter, claims that he was “battered on the back of my head and around my neck repeatedly with a club”. His unconscious body was mistaken for a corpse and dumped in a room with 11 murdered men. Mr Nyingi slept among the dead for two days before he was discovered.But before we express regret or say sorry for anything, we have to make sure that we entirely understand what we’re talking about. In the case of the Mau Mau uprising, only one side of the story tends to be told – a story that serves a particular political purpose. It’s the tale of an evil imperial power that used internment and torture to keep hold of a beautiful African colony that only ever wanted to be free. It is a fantasy version of history.



  • Caroline Elkins: Britain Has Said Sorry to the Mau Mau. The Rest of the Empire is Still Waiting.

    Caroline Elkins is professor of history and African and African American studies at Harvard University and author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag, for which she was awarded a Pulitzer prize in 2006On Thursday nearly 200 elderly Kikuyu people travelled from their rural homesteads and sat before the British high commissioner in Nairobi. Over half a century had passed since many were last in front of a British official. It was a different era then in Kenya. The Mau Mau war was raging, and Britain was implementing coercive policies that left indelible scars on the bodies and minds of countless men and women suspected of subversive activities.



  • Pankaj Mishra: Sun At Last Setting on Britain's Imperial Myth

    Pankaj Mishra is an Indian author and writer of literary and political essays. His books include Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan and Beyond. His new work, From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, is published in 2012.Scuttling away from India in 1947, after plunging the jewel in the crown into a catastrophic partition, "the British", the novelist Paul Scott famously wrote, "came to the end of themselves as they were". The legacy of British rule, and the manner of their departures – civil wars and impoverished nation states locked expensively into antagonism, whether in the Middle East, Africa or the Malay Peninsula – was clearer by the time Scott completed his Raj Quartet in the early 1970s. No more, he believed, could the British allow themselves any soothing illusions about the basis and consequences of their power.