Research themes

Europe, decolonisation and the legacies of empire

Since 1945 many European nations have undergone a transition from being colonial to post-colonial states. We are interested in exploring the processes and forms of imperial collapse itself, including the globalising dynamics of the end of empires. The colonial past is still with us, and the impact of the end of empire on the societal values of Europe itself is only beginning to be explored. How did decolonisation impact upon the sociology, political and cultural spheres and identities of European nations? How far has decolonisation provided a discursive framework in which questions of cultural encounter, integration and diversity are still mediated today? The end of empire may have been a foundational experience for many of the discourses of modernity, citizenship, multi-culturalism and rights that still shape our attitudes towards cultural assimilation and segregation – issues at the heart of ideas of 'Europeaness' and of Europe's national identities today. Exploring experiences of decolonisation in this way provides a means of reuniting the histories of western and eastern Europe, and involves working with museums to discuss how we present and perceive our imperial past.