Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Research & Teaching » Seminars » 2nd term 2019-2020 » Empires

Empires in Modern Europe

Research Seminar

Organised by Prof. Pieter M. JudsonProf. Lucy Riall and Dr Andreas Greiner (Max Weber Fellow)
Registration code: HEC-RS-EMPIR-19
Hybrid seminar: 4 weekly sessions (Tuesdays 17:10-19:00, Sala del Torrino) and a block session on 21 and 22 February

Starts on 28 January 2020
Admin. Assistant: Francesca Parenti


Enrolled participants only

Seminar description 

This seminar investigates practices of empire in different sites around the world, and it explores the ways in which those practices shaped and influenced societies and politics both inside and outside of Europe. In particular, we investigate a range of a-typical practitioners of what is sometimes called ‘informal Empire’: individuals from the realms of business, science, or organized religion, for example, whose undertakings shaped Europe’s global relations, albeit often unintentionally. At the same time, we also examine how local peoples engaged with these same practices and principles of empire in order to pursue their own particular ends.

We do not focus primarily on definitions of empires or of colonial rule, although we do discuss the character and legacies of both. Instead we emphasize the many varieties of colonialism and the many possible, sometimes even hidden, layers of imperial rule in different global contexts. Thus, our approach examines a range of imperial practices and seeks to challenge the implicit hierarchy of modern European colonialism that makes France and Britain into emblematic cases from which other, allegedly less successful empires, diverged. In short, we aim to replace existing typologies of empire by exploring more diverse sites and practitioners of empire.

Readings: Please note that most of the readings consist of articles or books available to you electronically through the library. Wherever this is not the case, we have provided PDFs on Sharepoint.


28 January: How to Think About Empire

  • E. R. Dickinson, “The German Empire: an Empire?” History Workshop Journal 66, 2008, 129-162
  • D. Ghosh, “Another Set of Imperial Turns [AHR Forum], American Historical Review 117/3, June 2012, 772-93

4 February: Informal Empire

  • J. Gallagher and R. Robinson, “The imperialism of free trade”, The Economic History Review 6/1 (1953), 1-15
  • Johannes Fabian, “Religious and Secular Colonization: Common Ground”, History and Anthropology, 1990, 4, 339-355

11 February: What is a Colony?

  • M. I. Finley, “Colonies - an Attempt at a Typology," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 26 (1976), 167-188
  • J. Osterhammel, ‘Frontiers,’n Th ie Transformation of the World (Princeton, 2014), parts 5 & 6, pp.368-91

18 February: Science and Empire

  • R. A. Butlin, ‘Environmental interactions,’ in Geographies of Empire: European Empires and Colonies, 1880-1960 (Cambridge, 2009), ch.9
  • T. Mitchell, ‘Principles true in every country,’ in Rule of Experts. Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley, 2002), ch.2

21 February: Block Session, Seminar Room 4, Badia Fiesolana

10:00 - 12:00: Mobility and Imperial ‘Worlds’

  • N. Shoemaker, “The extraterritorial United States to 1860”, Diplomatic History 42 (2018)
  • D. Cohen, “Love and Money in the Informal Empire: The British in Argentina, 1830-1930,” Past and Present 245, November 2019, 79-115

13:30 - 15:30: The USA, an Empire?

  • D. Immerwahr, How to Hide an Empire. A Short History of the Greater United States, (London, 2019), chs 4 and 5
  • M. Gobat, Empire by Invitation. William Walker and Manifest Destiny in Central America (Cambridge Mass. 2018), ch.1
  • D. Engerman, “Empires, visible and invisible”, Modern Intellectual History (2019), 1-10

16:00 - 18:00: External Speaker: Prof. Martin Dusinberre (University of Zürich): The Pacific World: Japan and Hawaii?

  • M. Dusinberre and M. Iijima, ‘Editorial—Transplantation: Sugar and Imperial Practice in Japan’s Pacific’, Historische Anthropologie 27, 3 (2019), 325-335.
  • E. Azuma, In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire (Berkeley: University of California press, 2019), chapter 2 (pp. 54-90, but if you’re pushed for time please make sure you read pp. 70-77 in detail).

22 February: Block Session, Seminar room 4, Badia Fiesolana

9:30 - 11:30: End of Empire: The Habsburg Monarchy

  • D. Reill, The Fiume Crisis. Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire, (forthcoming Harvard U. Press, unpublished manuscript)
  • P. Judson, “Afterword” in Embers of Empire. Continuity and Rupture in the Habsburg Successor States After 1918, ed, Paul Miller and Claire Morelon (New York, 2019), 318-325. 

11:45 - 13:30: Ends of Empires

  • F. O’Toole, ‘Ireland and the Irish Question,’ in S. Ward and A. Rasch, Embers of Empire in Brexit Britain (London, 2019)
  • J. Nieto-Philips, ‘When tourists came the mestizo went away,’ in C. Schmidt-Nowara and J. Nieto-Philips (eds), Interpreting Spanish Colonialism (Alburquerque, 2005)



Page last updated on 21 February 2020