About the Centre

The Centre for Imperial and Global History is comprised of 19 research staff in History, working alongside postgraduate students and staff in related disciplines. Histories of the colonial and postcolonial worlds are contentious and unresolved projects, and those points of tension and irresolution are reflected in the Centre for Imperial and Global History. On one hand lies the project of global history – taking Britain or Europe as its point of departure and looking to explore its zones of interaction beyond the locality, region, nation state, or civilization. On the other lie efforts to recover the voices and subjectivities of the Global South; of looking to provincialize the European experience by highlighting the alternative experiences and normativities that existed even at the height of British and European imperial projects. The Centre for Imperial and Global History offers a space in which both these streams are analysed, explored and interrogated.

Some of our researchers analyse the development of global and imperial systems with a focus on political and economic structures, whilst others write histories from below by researching the lives of colonized populations and those who were marginalized within processes of globalization.  In all of our history-writing, however, we take the position that we must challenge the normative focus on ‘white whiteness’ in the writing of history and that the normative audience ought to be that same ‘white whiteness’. We aim to write of the Global South and its peoples for an audience above and beyond Britain. Working across British, French, Iberian, Islamic, American, Chinese and Russian imperial systems we seek to recover indigenous, subaltern and marginalized voices, writing histories of those who experienced colonialism and still experience its ongoing consequences, both as people at the margins of and within the empires, and also studying them in their own right rather than simply in relation to colonial/imperial experiences. Our members do this by tracing archival records across multiple locales in the North and South, conducting oral histories, and engaging with local communities, non-governmental organisations, and other non-academic partners across the globe. 

As one of the largest research centres for studying imperial, (post-)colonial and/or global histories in the United Kingdom, our research expertise is wide-ranging. The Centre includes colleagues who work on African, Latin American, Islamic, East Asian and South Asian histories in both early-modern, modern and contemporary eras as well as those who are focused on British, French, North American and Eastern European experiences. We work collaboratively within the Centre, within historical and interdisciplinary research grants at Exeter and other universities, and we are engaged in co-producing research with practitioners and non-academic partners in multiple fields and with scholars in the Global South. The Centre runs a fortnightly seminar series featuring visiting and internal speakers, as well as ‘work in progress’ sessions and workshops. These serve as an important space of discussion, debate, and researcher development for our staff and postgraduate students, as well as a way of connecting the Centre to colonial, postcolonial or global scholars based outside Exeter.  In our teaching we are committed to efforts to decolonize the history curriculum at Exeter and to decentre it away from its current Eurocentrisms. We encourage applications from high-quality postgraduate students to join our research community and contribute to both academic and public discussion of all these issues.  

Research themes

The key themes that frame the field-leading research produced by Centre members are:  

  • Writing Postcolonial Histories: Methods and Approaches
  • (De-)Colonizing Bodies and Minds
  • Race, Ethnicity and Migration
  • (Post-) Colonial Violence: Law, Rights and Repression
  • Global Humanitarianism, Human Rights and Development
  • Imperial, Anti-Imperial and Global Political Economies
  • Networks and Negotiations
  • Globalizing Socialism