Building institutions
Localising ‘universal’ learning
in Empire of scholars
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This chapter examines the foundation of universities in the settler colonies in the mid-nineteenth century and considers their early development. It argues that these universities were initially local affairs, founded by self-confident settler elites who saw them as situated agents of ‘universal’ culture and symbols of colonial maturity. But it contends that in the 1870s a variety of changes began to reshape the global relationship between culture and power, pushing settler universities to find new ways of asserting their position as institutions that credentialised universal knowledge.

Empire of scholars

Universities, networks and the British academic world 1850–1939


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