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Thinking the Empire Whole

PSC Seminar


Steven Pincus, University of Chicago


Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre, Building 130, corner Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU


Monday, 6 August, 2018 - 16:30 to 18:00
Why did the British simultaneously lose an Empire in North America and gain one in South Asia? This question is difficult to answer because the vast majority of scholarship on the British Empire simultaneously focuses on binary relationships between England or Britain and a particular province on the one hand, and fails to conceptualise the Empire as a state on the other.  
In this lecture, British History scholar Steven Pincus focuses on the central role of the imperial state. While others have highlighted the global nature of empire, those scholars have either highlighted networks of individuals or larger processes like settler colonialism.  Both models miss the central role of the imperial state, according to Pincus. In the lecture, he will argue that goal of imperial government was to maximize the happiness of all the imperial subjects/citizens.  In this view, the imperial crisis of the 1762-1780s needs to be understood as a civil war between these two visions of empire. The fundamental cleavage was not between coloniser and colonised but between imperial hierarchists and imperial confederationalists.
Steven Pincus received his PhD in history from Harvard in 1990. He is a prominent scholar of Early Modern British History and author of the widely acclaimed, 1688: The First Modern Revolution. In March 2010, Pincus delivered the Sir John Neale lecture at University College, London. He was in Oxford for the 2010-2011 academic year working on the origins of the British Empire. He was Bradford Durfee Professor of History at Yale University from 2005 until July of 2018. He has just re-joined the history faculty at the University of Chicago. 




Julia Ahrens

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