Research themes

Comparing empires, connecting empires

Identifying the differences between empires can improve our understanding of the phenomenon of imperialism, and shed new light on respective experiences of empire. But the emergent similarities are no less compelling, and prompt us to re-examine familiar notions of competition, conflict and 'Scrambles' between hostile imperial powers. What is the relationship between trans-nationalism and empire? Should imperial culture be seen as inherently transnational, permeating not only the border between 'metropole' and 'periphery', but also the boundaries between empire-builders themselves? At Exeter, we're examining a range of scenarios in which practices and ideas were formed in dialogue between imperial actors. We're calling this phenomenon co-imperialism: the exercise of imperialism as a collaborative project between multiple imperial states; the movement of personnel and translation of expertise between imperial systems; and the geopolitical and environmental circumstances that have invited this phenomenon. Exploring these similarities and connections helps us to reframe imperial histories in a wider European context.