Tag Archives: Annual lecture

Annual Lecture 2017 – Tara Zahra (Chicago): The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World



Between 1846 and 1940, more than 50 million Europeans moved to the Americas, irrevocably changing both their new lands and the ones they left behind. As villages emptied, some blamed traffickers in human labour, targeting Jewish emigration agents.  Others saw opportunity: to expand their empires, gain economic advantage from an inflow of foreign currency, or reshape their populations by encouraging the emigration of minorities.

These debates about and experiences of emigration shaped competing ideals of freedom in Eastern Europe and “the West” over more than one hundred years. After the Second World War, the “captivity” of East Europeans behind the Iron Curtain came to be seen as a quintessential symbol of Communist oppression. The Iron Curtain was not, however, built overnight in 1948 or 1961. Its foundation was arguably laid before the First World War, when Austrian Imperial officials began a century-long campaign to curtail emigration in the name of demographic power and humanitarian values.

Speaker Biography:

Professor Tara Zahra works on transnational and comparative approaches to the history of modern Europe. The focus of her research and teaching is Central and Eastern Europe (including the Habsburg Empire and successor states and Germany), but her work integrates Central Europe into broader histories of Europe and the world. Her most recent book is The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (Norton, 2016). The book explores how debates about and experiences of emigration shaped competing ideals of freedom in Eastern Europe and “the West” over the course of one hundred years.

Her previous books include The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II (Harvard, 2011), which tells the story of Europe’s displaced and refugee children in Eastern and Western Europe from 1918 to 1951, and won the George Louis Beer Prize from the American Historical Association for European International History. Her first book, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900–1948 (Cornell, 2008), is a study of Czech and German nationalist mobilization around children from the Habsburg Empire to the Nazi occupation. It was awarded five prizes, including the Laura Shannon Prize in Contemporary European History, the Hans Rosenberg Prize of the Conference Group for Central European History, and the Barbara Jelavich Prizes of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

She is currently working on a co-authored book with Pieter Judson on the Habsburg Empire during the First World War (to be published by Oxford University Press) and beginning projects on Roma and statelessness in the Habsburg Empire and on the history of gender, sexuality, and migration in twentieth-century Europe. Professor Zahra is Professor of East European History at the University of Chicago and in 2014 was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.


M&C Annual Lecture 2016: Prof. Alison Bashford, ‘Malthus & China’

Bashford.M&C Annual Lecture.Poster copy

Thomas Robert Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population (1798/1803) is in the process of being thoroughly re-thought. The famous book was a universal history, a world history which sought to demonstrate the principle at work in all places and all times. In this lecture, Malthus’s work on China is analysed: the claims he made, the Jesuit sources he used, and the significance of China’s great population for his principle. China was the counter example to America, I argue. Malthus’s views on China are significant in two current contexts: first, the enduring and difficult relationship between Malthusian ideas and Chinese policy on population; and second, the historiographical conversation on an English-Chinese ‘great divergence’. Assessing China circa 1800, Malthus sat, unwittingly, at the temporal and geographical point of divergence.




Alison Bashford is Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Jesus College. She is author most recently of Global Population: History, Geopolitics and Life on Earth (Columbia, 2014) and The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus: Re-reading the Principle of Population (Princeton, 2016), co-authored with Joyce E. Chaplin. She is also series editor of Cambridge Oceanic Histories, with David Armitage and Sujit Sivasundaram.

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Reminder: Annual lecture

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A reminder that our annual lecture takes place on Tuesday 30 April, 5.30pm, in lecture theatre G15 of the Muirhead Tower.

The speaker is Catherine Hall (UCL), and her title is Reconfiguring race after slavery: the stories the slave-owners told. You can read more about it here or by clicking the image. Please register to attend (it’s free, but it helps us order the right amount of wine for the reception) by emailing Charlotte Heap.

‘Only see how neatly I take it out of his pocket’, the gentleman on the left is saying, as he slips a cool £20 million from John Bull’s back pocket, ‘We Whigs are dapper hands at taking swag’. The image is a detail from a cartoon entitled  Slave emancipation: or, John Bull gulled out of twenty millions.

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Annual lecture

On Tuesday 30 April, the Centre holds its annual lecture, for which we’re honoured to welcome Catherine Hall of UCL, whose subject will be Reconfiguring race after slavery: the stories the slave-owners told. The lecture will draw on a major project that Prof Hall has been running on Legacies of British slave-ownership.

The lecture begins at 5.30pm, and takes place in lecture theatre G15 of the Muirhead Tower (building R21 on the campus map). There will be a reception afterwards, too.

This event is free but please email Charlotte Heap to register. The poster is below—and below that, details of an associated event for Birmingham postgraduates earlier in the afternoon.

Hall poster

For postgraduates at Birmingham, Prof Hall will also be running a discussion session prior to the lecture. For details of this please contact Dr Ben White.

Addendum: you can download a podcast of Prof Hall’s 2011 Creighton Lecture at the Institute of Historical Research, entitled ‘Macaulay and Son: an imperial story’, on the IHR website here.

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