Imperial Inequalities

The politics of economic governance across European empires

Authors:
Gurminder K. Bhambra
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Julia McClure
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Imperial Inequalities takes Western European empires, and their legacies, as the explicit starting point for discussion. It addresses the institutional and fiscal processes involved in the modes of extraction, that is, taxation, and hierarchies of welfare distribution across Europe’s global empires. It looks at the ways in which particularities of economic governance across European empires have shaped forms of inequality in the present and their ongoing implications for contemporary political economy. Specifically, it examines the ways in which European empires mobilised forms of taxation across the territories they governed and addresses how this was understood, both in the metropole and the imperial hinterlands. The volume further addresses the different forms of welfare provided within the imperial polity in terms of who contributed, who had access, and how this was differentiated across its broader reaches. The relationship between taxation and welfare can be regarded as central to the dynamics of modern nation-states, yet the role of imperialism has rarely been addressed. Nor has the relationship been discussed within the literature addressing issues of economic governance across imperial domains. The volume culminates by looking at the various taxation regimes in operation in different European empires and how their postcolonial legacies continue to shape our world. In sum, the volume provides historical insights into the shaping of structures of inequality through an examination of the complex interplay between forms of extraction and differential redistribution which continue to have repercussions in the present.

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