Category Archives: European History

(Research) notes from three small islands

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Alban Bargain-Villéger Geography is nothing other than history in space, and history is geography over time.                   Élisée Reclus, L’Homme et la terre (1905)[1] The other day it occurred to me that, in my two and a half years as contributor for Active History, I haven’t once written about my research. The reason for this probably is that the world and… Read more »

History: Contemporary Poland’s Battlefield

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By Marie-Dominique Asselin Translated from HistoireEngagée.ca by Thomas Peace Last April, when speaking about the war in Syria, White House Communications Director Sean Spicer made a poorly framed comparison between the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and Adolf Hitler. For Spicer, Assad’s use of chemical weapons was far worse than that conducted by the German leader because – according to the White… Read more »

French Elections 2017: Looking Past the Hype

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Alban Bargain-Villéger On April 23 and May 7, 2017, French voters will be electing the eighth president of the Fifth Republic. In the last three months, much ink has been spilled over how decisive this year’s election will be. However, while this campaign has indeed been marked by several violent confrontations and scandalous revelations, its dynamics and the themes it… Read more »

Donald Trump, Brexit, and the Gentrification of Progressive Politics

By Steven High Note: This op-ed piece was published in French in Le Devoir on March 16, 2017. FIRST BREXIT AND NOW THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP as President of the United States have shocked many of us. Outrage and anguish seem to be the dominant reaction in my social media feeds. It is as though the world that we… Read more »

Fifty Years of French Protest Songs

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Alban Bargain-Villéger It all happened sometime in late March 2003, during the first days of the invasion of Iraq. My then-roommate and I were watching CNN’s coverage of the Battle of Nasiriyah in our Vancouver living-room, when my friend suddenly decided to break the silence that had been reigning for about fifteen minutes. “I’m telling you, dude, there’s going to… Read more »

Canadian Historical Association: Open Letter to the Polish Prime Minister

Yesterday, Joan Sangster, the President of the Canadian Historical Association sent the following letter to Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo regarding recent legislation criminalizing historical interpretation. For broader context of this issue see Jim Clifford’s post The Polish Government, the Holocaust and Jan Grabowski and Thomas Peace’s Fake News, Global History Wars, and the Importance of Historical Thinking. Ottawa, December… Read more »

After the Wall: Nostalgia and Cynicism during the German “Honeymoon,” 1989-1992

Alban Bargain-Villéger Twenty-seven years ago, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall collapsed. Twenty-seven is an odd number, so why write a post on this particular topic now, on the occasion of a not-so-symbolic anniversary? One reason is that I had always wanted to write something on the couple of years that followed the Fall of the Wall. But mainly,… Read more »

Travels with Caroline

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Alban Bargain-Villéger Unlike my previous contributions, this post is the result of an accident. While browsing the contents of my external hard drive in June during a (late) spring cleaning operation, I found a folder labelled “Caroline.” Intrigued, I opened the file and immediately remembered what these forgotten documents were. In the summer of 2008, while on vacation at my… Read more »

History on TV: Political Drama in the 2010s

Alban Bargain-Villéger In recent years, serial political dramas such as House of Cards and the Danish series Borgen have enjoyed quite a bit of success in North America. Although one might argue that the genre is more of a child of the 1990s, since the original House of Cards trilogy (set in a fictional post-Thatcher Britain) came out in 1991,… Read more »

21st Century Terrorism: Nothing New?

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Alban Bargain-Villéger About a month after the November 13 shootings, I was lining up, along with hundreds of carefree visitors, in front of the Osiris exhibit at Paris’s Arab World Institute. The sun was out, children were playing on the steps of the building and, aside from the occasional military squad patrolling the area, it was hard to believe that… Read more »