This module considers one of the most remarkable phenomena in history: the rapid expansion of European (and American, and Japanese) power over the face of the world, and the very rapid retreat of that power after 1945. The imperialism that reached its pinnacle in the nineteenth-century has given us the world we have today, and in many ways our present difficulties and preoccupations all stem from the dispensation of those empires. We need to understand how and why they happened. But to understand the modern colonial system, we have to understand how it grew out of the very concept of empire. The destruction of the Roman Empire created the long instability we call Europe; the modern European colonising powers were all, in their different ways, trying to recreate that Empire. And the loss of their colonial holdings has brought about, not an age of national independence, but an age of renewed empires: Russian, Chinese and American. Is this the future?
Module Leader:Richard Major
Division:Arts and Humanities