HENK0390SU English - Free topic 19: Implosion of Empire: Decolonising Britain

Volume 2016/2017

This course turns the mirror of decolonisation – a term normally used to understand the emergence of new independent nation states across Asia and Africa in the mid-twentieth century – back on to Britain itself. It explores the extent to which Britain went through a process of “decolonisation” towards a downsized conception of the nation for a post-imperial world, prompting an overhaul of some of the major assumptions and ideas that had shaped British culture and society for more than a century.


The question of how (and how much) Britain itself was affected by the loss of its colonial Empire is one which has drawn much scholarly interest, and one whose answer continues to divide historians. The course examines the historiographical debate on the issue, dissecting arguments put forward, on the one hand, by those who assert that there was precious little reaction to Empire's end in Britain, and, on the other hand, those arguing that the influence of this process upon Britain was profound. A number of historical events and their metropolitan responses are considered, including the decolonisation of India, the 'Wind of Change' sweeping through Britain's African colonial possessions, and the inflow of immigrants to Britain directly pursuant to imperial decline. The course provides research tools that students may find useful in answering for themselves the question of the importance of Britain's colonial past: for example, how do we operationalise imperial decline as a causal factor driving domestic social and cultural responses, and what is the role of memory and nostalgia in reconstituting the Empire?  

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • Total
  • 204,75