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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.

Introduction 1 In recent decades new geographies of imperial history writing have emerged. The boundaries that used to delimit separate domains of British history, imperial history, area studies and the histories of former colonies have been traversed promiscuously. Accompanying and propelling this reconfiguration of spatial categories has been more explicit attention to the

in Writing imperial histories
John MacKenzie and the study of imperialism

MacKenzie school’ or ‘MacKenzieites’ rather provocatively, his critique was nevertheless indicative of the stature and respect that John MacKenzie has earned through both the Series and his own impressive, varied and often pioneering scholarship. 2 Yet there is something of an irony in the ascription of such a central position in a ‘school’ of imperial history to a scholar who has often promoted and

in Writing imperial histories

The Studies in Imperialism series has pioneered a comparative and connected approach to imperial history. The Series has been at the forefront of the study of imperial networks: from personal and professional networks, to networks of steamships and aircraft and lines of communication. Migration has always been a central concern. To begin with, the volumes focused on primarily the history of

in Writing imperial histories
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Sexuality and the writing of colonial history

imperial history; indeed, many would have regarded it as irrelevant or inappropriate to the great questions of scholarship. Yet the establishment of The Journal of the History of Sexuality, also in 1990, confirmed the academic legitimacy of the subject. Sex in the colonies: Before Hyam Many currents contributed to the surge of work on the history of sexuality. 2 The new social

in Writing imperial histories
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, eclectic vision and relentless energy of its general editor, John MacKenzie. Under his careful guidance, Studies in Imperialism has played a conspicuous role in reshaping both British and Imperial histories, partly by greatly expanding their respective repertoires to explore new and previously neglected subjects, and partly by fixing attention more firmly on their tightly interwoven relationship. 1 Over the

in Writing imperial histories

and the world beyond Britain’s shores. This has had major implications for the study of imperial history, where older habits of treating nation and empire as separate spheres of enquiry are now widely regarded as obsolete. Since the mid-1980s, a consensus has grown around a theme that has come to be known as ‘empire and metropolitan culture’ – namely, that Britain’s global projection as a maritime

in Writing imperial histories
Empire, Nation Redux

perspective of the nation-state outcome of twentieth-century decolonisation. The subject of this chapter takes us, seemingly, full circle historiographically: from imperial history through the numerous recent ‘turns’ in imperial studies and then back again. It makes a case, in effect, for a return to certain kinds of traditional historical questions – borrowing at least a page or two from the kind of work

in Writing imperial histories
Patterns of policing in the European empires during the depression years

Manchester’s Studies in Imperialism. 7 Series contributors, in line with wider trends in the new imperial history, have convincingly demonstrated that colonial and metropolitan cultures must be treated in the same analytical field. 8 So, too, Asser’s conflation of soldiering and imperial conquest, policing and colonial control, reminds us that, within modern empires, repressive security force activities

in Writing imperial histories
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travels. This was true in the early days of this Series when books flowed in slowly or not at all (it should be remembered that it was an era before electronic communication when correspondence was conducted by mail and all submissions were in hard copy). I therefore found myself keen to commission work that would help expand the frontiers of imperial history. Consequently I urged colleagues to produce

in Writing imperial histories