Writing imperial histories

The book shows how people have come to approach the writing of imperial histories in the early twenty-first century. It explores the social and political contexts that informed the genesis and development of the Studies in Imperialism series, and the conceptual links it has sought to forge between empire and metropolitan culture. The book provides an insightful account of John MacKenzie's 'Orientalism': the problems of 'power' and 'agency'. The 'MacKenziean moment' needs to be read historically, as a product of the 'delayed arrival of decolonising sensibilities', where contemporary popular phenomena and new types of scholarship integrated Britain and its empire. Sexuality made early appearances in the Series through the publication of 'Empire and Sexuality'. MacKenzie's 'Empire of Nature', 'Imperialism and the Natural World', and 'Museums and Empire' convey the impact of his scholarship in the themes of exploration, environment and empire. The historical geographies of British colonialism have enjoyed a prominent place in the Series, and the book explores the ways in which different 'spatial imaginations' have been made possible. Discussions on colonial policing during the depression years, and on immigrant welfare during and after decolonisation, take their cue from MacKenzie's European Empires and the People. The later nineteenth century witnessed the interaction of many diasporas, which in turn produced new modes of communication. By dealing with the idea of the 'Third British Empire' and the role of the Indian press during and after the British Raj, the book repositions British imperial histories within a broader set of global transformations.

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