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Imperialism & Empire

This important week introduces you to historical study of Empire and its Aftermath. The lecture and seminar readings focus on defining key terms such as ‘Imperialism’ and ‘Colonialism’; provide a historical overview of the expansion (and later, the contraction) of European imperialism; discuss the relevance of studying the history of Empire for the present day; and briefly introduce some of the key concepts of ‘post-colonialism’, which will be expanded on further in subsequent weeks.


Seminar Questions for Discussion

  • How should we define ‘imperialism’?
  • What were the key factors in the spread of modern European imperialism? Were these political, economic, cultural?
  • How relevant is studying the history of Empire today?


Required Reading

Emanuele Saccarelli & Latha Varadarajan, Imperialism: Past and Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), Chapter 1: ‘Heart of Darkness Revisited’ (pp.1-14)

Barbara Bush, Imperialism and Postcolonialism (Harlow: Pearson, 2006), Chapter 1: ‘Untangling imperialism: comparisons over time and space’ (pp.8-42; see especially pp.13-33)


Further Reading

Barbara Bush, Imperialism and Postcolonialism (Harlow: Pearson, 2006)

P.J. Cain & A.G. Hopkins, British Imperialism: 1688-2015 (3rd edition; Abingdon: Routledge, 2016)

Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 (Abacus, 1989)

Stephen Howe, Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Ashley Jackson, The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

Philippa Levine, The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset (Harlow: Pearson, 2007)

Emanuele Saccarelli & Latha Varadarajan, Imperialism: Past and Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)