Professor James Belich - 'Why Europe? Y. pestis. The Black Death and the Rise of West Eurasia'
In 1346, a catastrophic plague beset Europe and its neighbours. The Black Death was a human tragedy that abruptly halved entire populations and caused untold suffering, but that also brought about a cultural and economic renewal on a scale never before witnessed. In this month’s Balliol Online Lecture, Professor James Belich, discusses a panoramic history of how bubonic plague revolutionized labour, trade, technology and culture, setting the stage for one of history’s great paradoxes: why did Europe’s dramatic rise begin in the wake of the Black Death?

Professor James Belich is Beit Professor of Global and Imperial History and a Professorial Fellow of Balliol. His early research put the history of New Zealand in global context, including a two-volume history of New Zealand, Making Peoples (1996) and Paradise Reforged (2001), as well as The New Zealand Wars (1986), which became a television documentary series. Turning subsequently to the comparative history of settler societies and their relations with indigenous peoples, he wrote Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-world (2009), and works on settler societies, imperialism, and racial ideas. Most recently his research has extended to global history and the origins of European expansionism in the late medieval and early modern eras, including The World the Plague Made: The Black Death and the Rise of Europe (2022), shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2023 and the subject of this month’s lecture.
Date: 19 March 2024, 17:00 (Tuesday, 10th week, Hilary 2024)
Venue: Venue to be announced
Speakers: Speaker to be announced
Organising department: Balliol College
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Booking required?: Required
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Audience: Public
Editor: David Barker