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  • History


James Baldwin and the fire this time

As the fires burned in Baltimore, following the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, protesters brandished placards with quotations from James Baldwin’s work, and thousands of blogs and twitter feeds invoked the legendary writer.

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9780199689170 Cunliffe - By Steppe Desert nad Ocean - final

A history of firsts [slideshow]

We live in a globalized world, but mobility is nothing new. Set on a huge continental stage, By Steppe, Desert and Ocean tells the story how human society evolved across the Eurasian continent from Europe to China.

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French History cover

Subversive voting, or how the French spoil their ballot papers

You might not guess, but the image below celebrating the Second Republic of 1848 was cast at Dijon as a negative vote in the referendum of 1851, which sought approval for the coup d’état that brought Louis-Napoleon (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) to power in France. The overwhelming majority voted positively but, among a minority of dissenters, there were those who chose to graphically illustrate their opposition. Others made adverse written comments on their papers and still more defaced the ballot they had been instructed to use by the newly installed Napoleonic authorities, or submitted blank pieces of paper to the ballot box.

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agents of empire

Agents of Empire: Who were the Bruni and Bruti families?

Representing a broad span of empires, cultures and religions during the sixteenth century, the Bruni and Bruti families exemplify a snapshot of Albania at a time when European and Ottoman histories collided. Only a small piece of the greater story, Noel Malcolm uses the Bruni and Bruti families to paint a panoramic landscape of history that covers the Venetian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Papacy, Malta, north Africa, Spain, southern France, Poland and the Holy Roman Empire.

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The history of international law [timeline]

Where and when did the history of international law begin? Many scholars have argued about the definitive date and periodisation of certain dynamic developments, let alone which treaties, institutions, and figures have shaped the field’s core doctrines.

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When everywhere is a grave: remembering WWII casualties in Belarus

On 22 June 2015, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko opened a new memorial complex at the site of the former extermination camp Maly Trostenets near Minsk. Between 1941 and 1944, German occupants and their helpers interned and killed up to 206,500 people in this camp and in the nearby forest of Blagovshchina.

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Separating Church and State

Since the 17th century Western thinkers have struggled with the problem of how to stop conflicts over religious differences. Not long ago, we mostly thought that the problem had been solved. Two rather different solutions served widely as paradigms, with many variations. One was the American Separation of Church and State, and the other French laïcité, usually if misleadingly translated as ‘secularism’.

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9780199890347 - A Storm of Witchcraft

Who was Giles Cory?

“Monday, Sept. 19, 1692. About noon, at Salem, Giles Cory was press’d to death for standing Mute; much pains was used with him two days, one after another, by the Court and Capt. Gardner of Nantucket who had been of his acquaintance: but all in vain.” Thus reads Judge Samuel Sewall’s terse account of one of the most gruesome incidents in early American history, one that continues to horrify yet fascinate. Who was Giles Cory? Why was he accused of witchcraft? And how did he come to such a horrible fate?

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How much do you know about fool’s gold? [quiz]

Many people have heard of Pyrite, most-commonly referred to as fool’s gold, but far less people know about pyrite’s cultural significance or its prevalence throughout history. From American mining lore to Greek philosophy and medieval poetry, pyrite appears throughout our past, and continues to influence our lives today. Take this quiz to find out how […]

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Bringing the Digital Humanities into the classroom

I spent four days last month with my colleague and friend, Doug Boyd, as he and I (mainly he) gave oral history workshops in Milwaukee and Madison. While the idea to bring Boyd to Wisconsin for these trainings began with Ann Hanlon, Digital Humanities Lab head at UW-Milwaukee, I jumped at the chance to find groups to sponsor his time in Madison.

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From colony to modern state: a history of India’s foreign policy

Since the turn of the century, the number of scholars and practitioners with an in-depth knowledge of India has multiplied worldwide. Specifically, close attention has been paid to the country’s international relationships, international objectives, and policy implementations as a result of its relevance to a wide range of global actors. But what accounts for India’s rapid ascension to the global stage?

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10 things you need to know about Magna Carta

This year marks the 800th anniversary of one of the most famous documents in history, the Magna Carta. Nicholas Vincent, author of Magna Carta: A Very Short Introduction , tells us 10 things everyone should know about the Magna Carta.

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OxBibs in African Studies

There are many excellent African leaders

A common perception is that the problem with Africa is its leaders. In 2007, Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim even created a major cash prize through his charitable foundation as an incentive to African heads of state to treat their people fairly and equitably and not use their countries’ coffers for their personal enrichment.

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The garden palaces of Europe and Asia [interactive map]

In 1682, the French court moved from Paris to the former royal hunting lodge of Versailles, which had been transformed under the supervision of Louis XIV into Europe’s most splendid palace, one which moreover was set in a stunning park that stretched all the way to the horizon. Versailles established a fashion for palaces surrounded by ample gardens that most major European courts would soon imitate. These parks provided appropriate backdrops for elaborately spectacles staged to impress visiting diplomats hunts as well as secluded settings for flirting.

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Aylan Kurdi: A Dickensian moment

The international response to the photographs of the dead body of three year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, washed ashore on a Turkish beach on 2 September 2015, has prompted intense debate. That debate has been not only about the proper attitude of Britain and other countries to the refugee crisis, but also about the proper place of strong emotions in political life.

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Does war cause xenophobia?

Does war cause xenophobia? Or does xenophobia cause war? That’s a “chicken and egg” sort of question. The fact is, fear of “the other” had already prevailed in pre-World War I European society—even in more liberal polities such as Britain—later manifesting itself in various ways throughout the conflict.

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