History | The British Empire
J400 | 17580 | Dodson
Above class open to majors only
Above class 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.
Weekly meetings will be based around a variety of readings,
including historical documents, novels, and secondary works.
Students will be evaluated on the basis of written work, including a
substantial final research essay, as well as participation in class.
Our discussion of the British Empire will have two major points of
focus: First, the ideas and events which were crucial to building
and maintaining Britain’s empire ‘at home,’ including conflict
between European powers, British liberal thought, 'orientalist'
scholarship, popular literature, and the rise of race science and
ethnology. Second, we will examine the lived experiences of
colonial governance, violence, resistance, change, and continuity
within Britain’s colonial territories themselves. We shall focus
here particularly upon the experiences of India, Africa, and South
East Asia, and the ways in which colonial subjects resisted and co-
opted a variety of imperial forms for their own creative social and
cultural enterprises. We shall also consider some important
historiographical debates in the study of empire, including
the “humanitarian” vs. “economic” rationale for the cessation of the
Atlantic slave trade, and the degree to which British
rule “invented” Indian society. The final part of the course will
examine the rise of nationalist movements in Asia and Africa, de-
colonization, and post-coloniality.