Comparativ 29 (2019), 3

Comparativ 29 (2019), 3
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Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und Vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung
Comparativ Universität Leipzig Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics IPF 348001 Ritterstrasse 24 04109 Leipzig GERMANY e-mail:
Matthias Middell

Empires reconfigured
edited by Matthias Middell and Alessandro Stanziani

Table of contents

Table of contents

Matthias Middell / Katja Naumann, pp. 7–8


Matthias Middell: Empires in Current Global Historiography, pp. 9–22

Gabriela Goldin Marcovich / Silvia Sebastiani: Empire, Enlightenment, and the Time Before: Global Contexts for Writing the History of Mexico, pp. 23–40
This article examines the different trajectories and works of two Mexican Creoles, separated by the Jesuits’ exile in 1767 in two different sides of the Atlantic. Francisco Javier Clavijero (1731–1787) wrote the monumental Storia antica del Messico (1780–1781) in the papal states, then a major center of antiquarian knowledge in Europe. José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1737–1799) edited his Gazeta de literatura de México (1784–1795) in Mexico City and wrote notes on Clavijero’s history for a never published Spanish edition. This article shifts attention away from the “dispute of the New World” opposing European and American voices and concentrates instead on the very rich but still unstudied debate between Mexican Creoles. It suggests that the exile placed Clavijero and Alzate within different imperial configurations, and this had significant implications on their political agendas and epistemological approaches. By investigating the strategies that they employed for shaping their international credibility as local experts of Mexico’s pre-colonial history and architectural remains, this article also explores the fluctuating reception of Clavijero’s and Alzate’s works in a period characterized by significant imperial transformations.

Yaruipam Muivah / Alessandro StanzianiForced: Labour at the Frontier of Empires: Manipur and the French Congo, 1890–1914, pp. 41–64
This article stresses the interrelations in terms of the circulation of ideas and the economic and social dynamics between various core and frontiers of the French and the British Empires in Asia and Africa. In taking the case of Manipur and North-East India, on the one hand, French Congo on the other hand, the question of slavery, free labor, and disputed sovereignties will be discussed. From this perspective, the making of a periphery was conceived and practised at the interstices of empires rather than as an opposition between the mainland core and its colonies.

Ulrike von Hirschhausen / Jonas Kreienbaum: “Neocolonialism” Revisited: An Empirical Enquiry into the Term’s Theoretical Substance Today, pp. 65–85
The term “neocolonialism” refers to the situation of former colonies remaining dependent on the metropoles and institutions of the West even after they achieved formal independence from the old European empires. In the 1960s and 1970s the term became a central category of analysis for anticolonial thought and even today, in the face of another wave of globalization, it serves as an explanatory factor. This essay examines the term’s analytical power by confronting it with two specific historical case studies. These are the British Empire’s economic intervention in Indian Bengal between 1870 and 1930 and the engagement of international financial institutions in central African Zambia in the name of structural adjustment during the late 1970s and 1980s. Notwithstanding certain continuities in unequal economic relations beyond the point of political decolonization, the essay argues that the concept of “neocolonialism” is not helpful as an analytical tool. It neglects local agency, overemphasizes the power of the imperial or neocolonial metropole and ignores the actual transformation of international economic relations. Instead, the article advocates the term “global capitalism”, which better grasps the ambivalent motives and consequences of economic interventions without disguising existing power differentials.

Margot Lyautey / Marc Elie: German Agricultural Occupation of France and Ukraine, 1940–1944, pp. 86–117
This paper compares and interconnects Nazi agricultural exploitation of Ukraine and France. It contributes to our understanding of the principles, workings, and implications of the food and agriculture policy in the Nazi empire both in the West and in the East. We are dealing first with the food and procurement policy of the Reich and how it diversely impacted peoples and agricultures in Europe: how did the Nazis imagine, plan, and craft an agricultural policy for their whole empire? Specifically we show how the dream of an autarkic continental economic community (“Großraumwirtschaft”), the plans to colonize mostly the East but to a lesser extent the West, too (the “Generalplan Ost” in its several variants), and the will to destroy large swathe of the Soviet population by starvation (the “Hungerplan”) interacted with one another both in visions and in implementations. Second, we compare how German occupants carried out agricultural exploitation of Ukraine and France, which were the main agricultural acquisitions of Nazi Germany. How did German agronomists set about to transform the agriculture of the countries they dominated? With what results? We show that both in the East and in the West they relied on existing administrative structures. Third, we underline connections and transfers between these two occupation regimes: the practice of forcibly and massively moving peasants to fit production needs, the institution of German agricultural managers to rule local farmers (“Landwirtschaftsführer”), the establishment of the Ostland farming company both in the occupied Soviet Union and occupied France, and the culture of the rubber-plant kok-sagyz.


Savatore Ciriacono: The Early Modern “Silk-Road”. The Role of European, Chinese, and Russian Trade Reassessed, pp. 118–134
This paper investigates the historic and contemporary place of European and Asian trade in the context of the so-called “Silk Road”. The success and the competition of the present-day Chinese economy is seen as the cause of the declining role of Western economies in world markets but the reality is and was much more complex in the past. Was the Industrial revolution a fundamental turning point? In Central Asia in particular the institutional and economic rapports were much more nuanced than one might be led to believe by the notion of the “Silk Road” as a mere route of East-West transit. It is with this in mind that I consider the rapports between the maritime road and the silk road. I interpret the growing presence of Russia in the Central Asian markets from the sixteenth century onwards in connection with the Chinese advance in Western Asia. The English ambition and presence in Southern Asia (India) was also concerned with central Asian markets and was in direct competition with Russian expansion. These economic and institutional rapports went on to have a deep influence on 19th and 20th century geopolitics, in which the general concept of the Silk Road developed.

Book reviews

Arnd Bauerkämper / Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe (eds.): Fascism without Borders. Transnational Connections and Cooperation between Movements and Regimes in Europe from 1918 to 1945, New York / Oxford: Berghahn Books 2017, 373 p.
by Victor Lundberg, pp. 135–138

Ralph Callebert: On Durban’s Docks: Zulu Workers, Rural Households, Global Labor, Rochester: Rochester University Press, 2017, 256 S.
by Jonathan Hyslop, pp. 138–140

Elleke Boehmer / Rouven Kunstmann / Priyasha Mukhopadhyay / Asha Rogers (eds.): The Global Histories of Books. Methods and Practices (New Directions in Book History series), Berlin / Basingstoke: Springer International Publishing / Palgrave Macmillan 2017
by Cécile Cottenet, pp. 140–143


Carola Lentz / David Lowe: Remembering Independence (= Remembering the Modern World), London / New York: Routledge 2018, xii + 244 p.
by Geert Castryck, pp. 144

Trevor Burnard / John Garrigus: The Plantation Economy. Atlantic Capitalism in French Saint-Domingue and British Jamaica (= The Early Modern Americas), Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press 2016, 350 p.
by Megan Maruschke, pp. 144–145

Marcel van der Linden: Workers of the World. Eine Globalgeschichte der Arbeit (= Globalgeschichte, Bd. 23), Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag 2017, 503 S.
_by Matthias Middell, pp. 145–147

Alexandra Köhring / Monica Rüthers (Hrsg.): Ästhetiken des Sozialismus. Populäre Bildmedien im späten Sozialismus (= Socialist Aesthetics. Visual Cultures of Late Socialism), Köln: Böhlau Verlag 2018, 333 S.
by Antje Dietze, pp. 147–148

Thi Hanh Nguyen: Les Conflits Frontaliers Sino-Vietnamiens de 1883 à nos Jours, Paris: Editions Demopolis 2018, 403 p.
by Yasmine Najm, pp. 148

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