German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2050
Fax: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2055 / 7404 5573


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Public Lectures

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series

Public Lectures Series: Urban and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Living in the Modern European City

Seminars and Lectures

The GHIL regularly holds seminars and lectures on topics of general interest to British and German historians. Seminars are held Tuesdays at 5.30pm during term time. Seminar papers are normally presented in English; knowledge of the German language is not necessary for participation.

Migration, Citizenship and Welfare in British History

Seminar Series | Summer Term 2017

Immigration and the entitlement of migrants to citizenship and welfare are among the most contentious political topics in present-day Britain. The GHIL seminar series in the summer term 2017 will put this debate into historical perspective. It consists of four lectures delivered by distinguished British experts in the field, who will analyse public and intellectual discourse, practices, cultures, and frameworks, as well as mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. By pursuing these themes from medieval to contemporary Britain, the lecture series will examine how the debate surrounding immigration in Britain has evolved over the centuries.

13 June

W. Mark Ormrod (York)
England’s Immigrants, 1330–1550: Defining the Rights of Aliens in Later Medieval England

Over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the English state began to scrutinize more closely aliens living within its bounds, not least with a view to taxing them more heavily than their English-born counterparts. At the same time, it began to experiment with measures that allowed such aliens the medieval equivalent of national citizenship, known as denization. The lecture will examine the various motivations of the state and of immigrants during this formative period in English naturalization laws.

W. Mark Ormrod is Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of York. He is the author of many books and articles on later medieval English history, including the Yale University Press ‘English Monarchs’ volume on Edward III (2011). His recent project on immigration to England in the later Middle Ages has generated the major online database, ‘England’s Immigrants, 1330–1550’:

20 June

William O’Reilly (Cambridge)
Strangers, Subjects, Citizens: Changing Attitudes to Immigrants in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century England

This lecture will consider the debates surrounding immigration to England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and reflects on why at that time a discernible change occurred in how migrants were treated. It will examine emerging ideas of a ‘British’ Protestant identity and the ever-changing relationship with continental Europe, and reflect on changing ideas of Englishness and on popular and public attitudes to foreign workers in England. A rhetoric of ‘suitability’ for English society meant that many foreigners were denied charity and employment, and were directed away from England’s shores.

William O’Reilly is Associate Director of the Centre for History and Economics and Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Atlantic World, 1450–1800 (2014) and Selling Souls: The Traffic in German Migrants, Habsburg Europe and America, 1648–1780 (forthcoming 2017). He is currently writing a biography of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740).

4 July

Diane Frost (Liverpool)
Work, Community and Exclusion: West African Seafarers in Early Twentieth-Century Liverpool

The lecture will consider a number of exclusionary mechanisms that operated in early twentieth-century Britain with specific reference to black seafarers in colonial ports like Liverpool. It will explore measures instituted at different levels of British society throughout the 1920s, including those introduced at state level that aimed to undermine the legal status of black seafarers, and pressures from ‘below’, from those sections of organized labour that campaigned against the employment of black labour. Both responses will be located in the specific socio-economic and historical conditions of the post-First World War period, and take into account localized factors prevailing in colonial seaports like Liverpool.

Diane Frost lectures in Sociology at the University of Liverpool and has research and teaching interests in the history of Black Liverpool, migration, identity and belonging, asylum, and race hate. Her books include Africa in Crisis (2002, co-edited with A. B. Zack-Williams and A. Thompson) and From the Pit to the Market: Politics and the Diamond Economy in Sierra Leone (2012).

Seminars are held at 5.30 p.m. in the Seminar Room of the German Historical Institute.
Tea is served from 5.00 p.m. in the Common Room, and wine is available after the seminars.

Guided tours of the Library are available before each seminar at 4.30 p.m.

Download the flyer of Migration, Citizenship and Welfare in British History  (PDF file)

Previous Seminars

Public Lectures 2017

8 June

A.R. Venkatachalapathy (Madras Institute of Development Studies)
From Pulavar to Professor: Policy, politics and professionalization of Tamil Pandits, 1812-1949

TRG Event

Venue: German Historical Institute London

This lecture traces the changing status of Tamil pulavars, or pandits, in colonial Tamilnadu. Pulavars encountered colonial modernity through the College of Fort St George established in 1812 to train civil servants in Indian languages. Following Macaulay’s minute of 1835, the policy of imparting western education undermined the status of language teachers. Hierarchizing languages as ‘classical’ and ‘vernacular’ further impacted the professionalization of Tamil teachers. Pulavars received substantially lower salaries, and could not hold administrative posts. Seen as symbols of a lost world, the carriers of a hidebound tradition, and therefore impediments to modernity they were objects of ridicule. However, Orientalist scholarship – exemplified by Caldwell’s A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages (1856) – empowered the Tamil language, contributing to the formation of a new identity based on language, ‘race’, and caste: Tamil, Dravidian, and Non-Brahmin. Tamil teachers were mobilized by this movement for a new identity – a key moment being the anti-Hindu agitation (1937-39) – which enhanced their social status.

A.R. Venkatachalapathy is a professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. He is also a Tamil writer, translator, and editor. A recipient of the V.K.R.V. Rao Prize (History, 2007), his publications include In Those Days There Was No Coffee: Writings in Cultural History (2006) and The Province of the Book: Scholars, Scribes, and Scribblers in Colonial Tamilnadu (2012).

Download Flyer (PDF file)

If not otherwise stated, lectures are held in the Seminar Room of the German Historical Institute.
Tea is served from 5.00 p.m. in the Common Room, and wine is available after the lectures.

Previous Public Lectures

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London, 2016-17

The Legacy of the Left and Israel: 1967-2017

This season´s topic intends to discuss the complicated and multi-layered relationship of the European Left with Zionism and the State of Israel. We will examine this broad subject from a historical perspective and will shed light on the different debates in various European countries.

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Urban and Elegant: The Aesthetics of Living in the Modern European City

Public Lecture Series

Organised and introduced by Dr Anna Ananieva, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.

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