The Wrath of Mountains: Explaining Volcanic Eruptions from the Late Eighteenth Century to the Modern Day

“The Straits of Sunda: Terrible Volcanic Eruption.” Illustrated London News, 8 Sept. 1883, p. 229. The Illustrated London News Historical Archive, 1842-2003

By Amelie Bonney, Gale Ambassador at the University of Oxford

On December 9, 2019, the deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Whakaari in New Zealand sparked new discussions over risk assessment in volcanic regions. While sudden volcanic eruptions make it difficult for scientists to assess risks in such areas, the belief that eruptions can be predicted thanks to science also leads to increasingly hazardous activities such as tourism in dangerous volcanic regions. How and why have humans become so intrepid when it comes to volcanoes?

The Gale Primary Sources archives provide not only newspaper articles but also a range of valuable monographs and visual sources, ranging from drawings to photographs, which allow us to investigate how our understanding and perception of volcanic eruptions has changed over the last few centuries. The sources demonstrate that the scientific community’s investigations led to the emergence of new understandings of dangerous volcanic eruptions from the late eighteenth century onwards. Paradoxically, scientific explanations of volcanic eruptions created a heightened sense of danger but also led to an increase in risk-taking behaviour.

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What Is the Meaning of Christmas? Celebrating the 25th December Around the World in History

| By Meg Ison, Gale Ambassador at the University of Portsmouth |

The longed-for Christmas break ultimately meant one thing for me as an undergraduate student reading French and History at the University of Portsmouth: January deadlines. Bah humbug! This time last year, as a student studying for an MSc in Social Research methods at the University of Southampton, the festive period was just a short break from terrifying lectures on statistical equations and mind-boggling sociological theory. Now I am a PhD student without looming French grammar tests or the self-imposed pressure to become a Master of Science. (You can read about how myself and social research methods are coming to terms with our differences here). Consequently, I am looking forward to a stress-free build up to the 25th December for the first time in years! Despite my newly found freedom, I am no less academically curious over the festive period. As such, I have enjoyed spending time this vacation delving into the Santa’s grotto that is Gale Primary Sources – overflowing with exciting archives, it is undoubtedly a treasure trove for researchers – to find out how Christmas has been celebrated around the world in history.

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Who is the Founder of Modern Singapore?

By Vanessa Tan, Editorial Assistant with Gale Asia
Hi! My name is Vanessa and I’m currently working as an Editorial Assistant in Gale’s Asia team. Prior to this, I read English Literature at the Nanyang Technological University, where I took an interest in Modernism and Asian Studies. Outside of working hours, you may catch me obsessing over a Kubrick/Linklater film while chowing down all types of ice cream to fight Singapore’s everlasting summer.

In 2019, Singapore will commemorate her bicentenary since the landing of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826) on the island on 28 January 1819. Raffles’ name now stretches beyond the widely known narrative of the nation-state’s genesis. Today, the name carries pomp and prestige—Raffles City and Raffles Hotel are both prominent landmarks situated in the richest areas of Singapore, while Raffles Institution remains the highest-ranked secondary educational institution in the country, having produced many of the country’s top-performing scholars and politicians.

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Robert Hart and the Chinese Maritime Customs Service

Richard Horowitz is a Professor of History at California State University. Trained as a historian of modern China, he subsequently developed a second specialization in the emerging field of World History. His research explores the intersection of China and processes of global integration from the 1820s to the 1920s. He teaches courses on China, Japan, World History, and historical methods.

This is an excerpt from an essay by Professor Richard S. Horowitz entitled “The Chinese Maritime Customs Service, 1854–1949: An Introduction”.

For almost a century, the Chinese Maritime Customs Service played a central role in the relationship between China and the global economy. The Customs Service was part of the Chinese Government, but it was led by foreigners. Technically, its role was limited to ensuring the accurate assessment of Customs duties (taxes on imports and exports). However, over time, it became involved in many activities including the maintenance of harbors and lighthouses, the payment of foreign loans, the preparation of a very wide range of published reports, and the provision of technical assistance to the Chinese Government. Customs officials were often involved in diplomatic discussions and served as informal intermediaries between Chinese officials and foreign representatives.

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