In the last ten years or so historians of science have done much to challenge the existing Eurocentric historiography, yet such works are only just starting to make its way onto core reading lists and into the mainstream of the discipline. In this blog post James Poskett surveys the most exciting new scholarship in the field and makes a case for five books he thinks every historian of science should read. These are books that, whilst often focusing on particular regions or periods, nonetheless speak to the bigger concerns of the discipline. And in fact, for anyone more broadly interested in the history of science, who wants to know where the field is headed, these books are a great place to start.
Global History remains a relatively unknown field in Latin American historiography, despite its popularity in European academia. Some Latin Americanist historians, aware of this situation, have recently focused attention to this “lack of attachment” to Global History in the region. In this blog entry, inspired by two articles by Matthew Brown (2015) and Sven Schuster and Gabriella de Grecco Lima (2020), Camilo Uribe Botta discusses the characteristics of the debate about the usefulness of Global History for the analysis of Latin American history, and proposes some new ideas that could help in the development of a new field.
The James Collection: Connecting Sussex with Somalia and Sudan through thefts of cooking pots and gifts of cloth
Europeans who ‘explored’ and hunted in eastern Africa in the later nineteenth century engaged local caravan traders to act as guides and protectors on their journeys from the coast to the interior. Each with loads carried by more than 200 porters, caravans brought trade goods into the region, and took out the material culture collected by the Europeans. Fleur Martin discusses how these processes of exchange – and theft – can be understood, highlighting the violence and agency that lies behind imperial collections in a case study of the James brothers’ journeys through Somalia and Sudan. Their collection of eastern African material cultural heritage is now housed at West Dean, an arts and conservation college in Sussex.
A Quick ‘British’ Meal? Exploring The Growth of International Takeaways in Britain from 1950 to the Present Day
When we think of a classic British takeaway, we most commonly think of fish and chips. However, as Jessica Lambert explains in this blog post, the takeaway culture that exists today grew out of food influences from across the globe. Whilst nowadays we simply order our choice of exotic cuisine by tapping a few buttons on a screen, the wide variety of dishes at our fingertips grew out of increased migration to Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, bringing Turkish kebabs and Chinese chow meins to our palates.
Orchids are one of the most popular plants in the world. But back in the nineteenth century, orchids, specially the tropical ones, were a botanical curiosity and an exotic and expensive item only a few could afford. Those plants were extracted from the tropical jungles of South America to be sold in auctions in Britain. In this blog post, Camilo Uribe Botta shows how the networks created between Colombia, Belgium and Britain in the 1840s led to a constant supply of plants from the tropical Andes and also to new botanical discoveries and innovative methods on how to cultivate them in Britain.