History | The British Empire
J300 | 25821 | Dodson


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section COAS intensive writing section
Above section open to undergraduates only

This course will provide an opportunity for an in-depth discussion
of some of the important features of the 'second' British empire in
Asia and Africa from the late eighteenth to the twentieth century.
Given the wide geographical and chronological range of the course,
the principal aim will be to approach the study of the British
empire through a re-evaluation of standard explanatory categories
such as 'formal' and 'informal' empire, or the 'new imperialism' of
the late nineteenth century. In addition, we will assess important
historiographical debates, such as the 'humanitarian' vs. 'economic'
rationale for the cessation of the slave trade, or the degree to
which British rule 'invented' Indian society. To accomplish this,
the course will juxtapose study of the British imperial 'centre' and
its constitutive ideologies, with experiences of encounter,
governance, violence, resistance, change, and continuity within the
colonial 'periphery.' For example, drawing upon both primary and
secondary sources, we will examine the role of British liberal
thought in justifying imperial expansion, as well as the ways in
which 'orientalist' scholarship, literature, museological culture
and the rise of race science and ethnology continued to underpin the
British 'civilising mission.' British military expansion, its
attendant forms of governance, as well as information gathering, and
knowledge creation will then be assessed for their impacts upon
colonised society. Here the focus will be upon the ways in which
colonial subjects resisted and co-opted a variety of imperial forms
within their own creative social and cultural enterprises. The final
part of the course will examine the rise of nationalist movements in
Asia and Africa, and attendant programmes of de-colonisation. Here
the role of religion in the development of anti-imperial identities
will be evaluated, together with the respective influences
of 'indigenous' and European thought.