The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism

The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism

The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism

The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism

Synopsis

While imperial blockbusters fly off the shelves, there is no comprehensive history dedicated to resistance in the 19th and 20th century British Empire. The Trouble with Empire is the first volume to fill this gap, offering a brief but thorough introduction to the nature and consequences of resistance to British imperialism. Historian Antoinette Burton's study spans the 19th and 20th centuries, when discontented subjects of empire made their unhappiness felt from Ireland to Canada to India to Africa to Australasia, in direct response to incursions of military might and imperial capitalism. The Trouble with Empire offers the first thoroughgoing account of what British imperialism looked like from below and of how tenuous its hold on alien populations was throughout its long, unstable life. By taking the long view, moving across a variety of geopolitical sites and spanning the whole of the period 1840-1955, Burton examines the commonalities between different forms of resistance and unveils the structural weaknesses of the British Empire. From the Indian Mutiny of 1857 to the Anglo-Zulu War to the Opium War, The Trouble with Empire reveals the often-overlooked indigenous agency throughout the British empire and illuminates the limits of imperial power, both official and unofficial.

Excerpt

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?

T. S. eliot, The Waste Land, 1922

The trouble with British imperial histories is that they are not written with dissent and disruption in the lead. Even when they concede that agents of resistance shaped the end of empire, historians of its long life rarely write as if trouble, rather than extension and hegemony, was the characteristic feature of imperial power on the ground. Yet the very character of imperial power was shaped by its challengers and by the trouble they made for its stewards. Empire arguably has no history outside these struggles. Whether on imperial battlefields, where the British were deemed victorious, or in the colonial marketplace of labor and consumption, where capital was said to be settled, or in the realm of transnational politics, where colonial subjects were thought to have acquiesced in the endless deferral of independence and self-rule—in all these domains antagonists continually challenged the narrative of Pax Britannica and breached the security of empire’s defenses. Those who lived through the realities of modern British imperialism, whether as colonized or colonizer, settler or native, witnessed firsthand the combination . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.