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“Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”

By Richard Simpson

From our earliest days on the long winding path to becoming historians we are taught adulterating source materials is an almost sacrilegious offence. But what would happen if we had never been taught this central tenet of our academic discipline?

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On the ‘right to be bigots’: the dehistoricisation of racism

By Jess Hope

What happens when policy ignores history? This week, Australia’s conservative government announced proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) and its amendment the Racial Hatred Act (1995), which was established in response to an increase in verbal and physical racial violence in Australia. The changes would see the repeal of Section 18C, which presently makes it unlawful to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people’ on the basis of their ‘race, colour or national or ethnic origin’.[1] Instead, in the opinion of Attorney-General George Brandis, the Australian people ‘have a right to be bigots.’[2] As currently stated, the implications appear to be as follows:

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John Gibney, The Shadow of a Year: the 1641 Rebellion in Irish History & Memory (2013)

By Joan Redmond

Northern Ireland and its troubled past has been in the news a lot in the past few months. First, there were the failed 2013 negotiations chaired by Richard Haass that aimed to deal with the legacy of the Troubles; in the past few weeks, controversy has again erupted over the collapse of the John Downey trial, and the ‘secret’ letters issued to on-the-run IRA members. Northern Ireland continues to be a troubled land, and in John Gibney’s book, he examines the afterlife of one of the most important events in Irish history, and the breeding ground of subsequent conflict.

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Conference: ‘The Media in History and History in the Media’

by Janine Noack

On March 21/22 the conference “The Media in History and History in the Media” took place Cambridge, Sidney Sussex College. Around 20 participants from European Universities discussed their research in the area of Media History and possibilities for historians to interact with the in different panels. The conference report will be published soon! David Reynolds gave keynote speech. Follow the link for the program:

History and the Media Programme

We tweeted about the conference using #dohistory.

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Cycle of Songs – Local History in Cambridge

by Janine Noack

Some of our bloggers (Tiia Sahrakorpi, Emily Ward, Marta Musso, Janine Noack) are currently working together with Helen Weinstein and historyworks.tv on the project ‘Cycle of Songs’ (#cycleofsongs). When the Tour de France arrives in Cambridge on 7 July 2014 we will tell hidden stories of the city’s past along the route of the race. The stories will be performed by local people, choirs and musicians and be available online to listen to via podcasts.

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Academic conferences – why do we go?

by Joan Redmond

A few weekends ago, I found myself in sunny Bristol, sitting in the back seat of a very gruff taxi-driver’s cab on my way to Trinity College. Why, you ask? I was bound for the Ecclesiastical History Society Postgraduate Colloquium, an annual event that brings together postgraduates working on all aspects of church history.

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Thoughts about doing history in public: The case for Muslims in Britain

By Hira Amin

As a PhD student with an interest in Muslims in Britain, my initial thoughts were to focus on religious ideas, their evolution and how they are creating new British Muslim subjectivities. I specifically wanted to distance myself from the media sensationalism and politics surrounding Muslims in the West. Of course, all historians must take into account sociopolitical contexts; the understanding and practice of religion does not take place in a vacuum. Yet my subject was to be on Muslims’ evolution in understanding and practicing their faith in late 20th and early 21st century Britain.

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Foreign Archives: how to plan your visit?

by Florence Largillière

Archives seem to feature prominently in our blog, but this is not without reason. Talking about archives and how historians deal with them is useful on two main levels. We hope to give some guidelines to new research students – as obvious as some of them may be. And we want to show that the work of a historian is more diverse and complicated than what is sometimes imagined. Before we sit at a desk and immerse ourselves for days in old papers, notes, letters, microfilms, photographs or videos, we spend hours looking for them. Read more

Why Do We Do History in Public?

by Julia Bourke

On March 5 from 3-5pm, Cambridge DHP hosted a twitter chat to discuss why historians should do history in public. Read a preview below or find the full version on Storify.

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The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria has closed his account

By Marta Musso

Have you ever wondered what world leaders would write in their Facebook accounts (in the pre-Obama era, of course)? Even though it’s two years old (a bygone era in the age of the internet) this post from CollegeHumor is more actual than ever. “Facebook News Feed History of the World: World War I to World War II” starts with pictures from the Crimean War and goes on to explain the causes and consequences of the two world wars up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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BBC Live Debate on World War One

by Tiia Sahrakorpi

Was the Great War a great mistake? 100 years on, historians and the public reflect on Britain’s involvement in World War One – a debate led by Niall Ferguson on BBC Two, Friday 28 February 2014. It then was moved to Radio 5 Live at 10.30 pm – 11.30 pm through which Professor Helen Weinstein (@historyworkstv) chaired the online debate via blogging and Twitter. Overall, over 4000 tweets were sent to #WW1, #pityofwar and #necessarywar. Here are some exerts from the debates found on Twitter: a TINY sampling of the various debates and thoughts of viewers and listeners. Read more

World Factory: fabricating a digital quilt

by Katy BondJess Hope and Anne Alexander

Cambridge historians were recently invited to contribute research to World Factory, an interdisciplinary performance project exploring the global textile industry through the lenses of nineteenth-century Manchester and present-day China. A collaboration between Zoë Svendsen and Simon Daw of performing arts company Metis and Shanghai-based theatre director Zhao Chuan, it works by ‘stitching’ together research in a ‘Digital Quilt‘, placing nineteenth century sanitation reports and photographs of old Manchester cotton mills alongside twenty-first century labour laws and strike reports from industrial China. Read more