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When the 13 colonies in North America, the slave colony of Saint-Domingue, and the colonial territories of the Portuguese and Spanish Americas all rose against their…
When the 13 colonies in North America, the slave colony of Saint-Domingue, and the colonial territories of the Portuguese and Spanish Americas all rose against their imperial rulers, a new postcolonial order seemingly emerged in the Western Hemisphere. The reality of this situation forced political theorists and practitioners of the early 19th century to rethink the way in which they envisioned the nature and dynamics of international order. But a careful analysis of this shift reveals that it was not the radical break with prior notions of sovereignty and territoriality, often described in the literature. This was not the emergence of a new postimperial system of independent, nationally anchored states. Rather, it reflected a creative rethinking of existing notions of divided sovereignty and composite polities, rife with political experiments – from the formation of a new multi-centered empire in North America to the quasi-states and federations of Latin America. This moment of political experimentation and postcolonial order-making presented a distinctly new world repertoire of empire and state-building, parts of which were at least as violent and authoritarian as those of the old world empires it had replaced. The most radical ideas of freedom and liberty, championed by the black republic of Haiti, remained marginalized and sidelined by more conservative powers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Officially, of course, the world is now post-imperial. The Q’ing and Ottoman empires fell on the eve of World War I, and the last Leviathans of Europe's imperial past, the…
Officially, of course, the world is now post-imperial. The Q’ing and Ottoman empires fell on the eve of World War I, and the last Leviathans of Europe's imperial past, the Austro-Hungarian and Tsarist empires, lumbered into the grave soon after. Tocsins of liberation were sounded on all sides, in the name of democracy (Wilson) and socialism (Lenin). Later attempts to remake and proclaim empires – above all, Hitler's annunciation of a “Third Reich” – now seem surreal, aberrant, and dystopian. The Soviet Union, the heir to the Tsarist empire, found it prudent to call itself a “federation of socialist republics.” Mao's China followed suit. Now, only a truly perverse, contrarian regime would fail to deploy the rhetoric of democracy.
Du Bois's interest in the Japanese empire points us in the direction of examining non-Western imperial policies and discourses and how they relate to racialization. For Du…
Du Bois's interest in the Japanese empire points us in the direction of examining non-Western imperial policies and discourses and how they relate to racialization. For Du Bois, Japan was an exemplar of a nonwhite empire. This chapter reconstructs a Du Boisian conception of race that identifies it closely with ethnicity, against the belief that the African-American intellectual held on to a merely biological conception of race. I argue that his thought evolved towards a social-construction approach in which race must be understood historically and in particular global contexts. By analyzing Japan's policies and discourses around the boundaries of the Japanese, I explicate how Japan carried out a process of self-racialization owing to its dialectical relationship with the West. It also racialized its colonial subjects in a process of in-group delineation according to Japan's imperial imperatives. The case of the Japanese empire demonstrates how a global/transnational approach to racialization is valuable. It also evinces how white supremacy and universalism are not the only logics of imperialism. Moreover, it shows that Du Bois believed white supremacy could be transcended. However, Du Bois was too idealistic about Japan's empire, ignoring how oppressive nonwhite imperial rulers can be toward their subjects even when there are phenotypical similarities between them.
The traditional postcolonial focus on the modern and the European, and pre-modern and non-European empires has marginalized the study of empires like the Ottoman Empire…
The traditional postcolonial focus on the modern and the European, and pre-modern and non-European empires has marginalized the study of empires like the Ottoman Empire whose temporal reign traversed the modern and pre-modern eras, and its geographical land mass covered parts of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa. Here, I first place the three postcolonial corollaries of the prioritization of contemporary inequality, the determination of its historical origins, and the target of its eventual elimination in conversation with the Ottoman Empire. I then discuss and articulate the two ensuing criticisms concerning the role of Islam and the fluidity of identities in states and societies. I argue that epistemologically, postcolonial studies criticize the European representations of Islam, but do not take the next step of generating alternate knowledge by engaging in empirical studies of Islamic empires like the Ottoman Empire. Ontologically, postcolonial studies draw strict official and unofficial lines between the European colonizer and the non-European colonized, yet such a clear-cut divide does not hold in the case of the Ottoman Empire where the lines were much more nuanced and identities much more fluid. Still, I argue that contemporary studies on the Ottoman Empire productively intersect with the postcolonial approach in three research areas: the exploration of the agency of imperial subjects; the deconstruction of the imperial center; and the articulation of bases of imperial domination other than the conventional European “rule of colonial difference” strictly predicated on race. I conclude with a call for an analysis of Ottoman postcoloniality in comparison to others such as the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Persian, Chinese, Mughal, and Japanese that negotiated modernity in a similar manner with the explicit intent to generate knowledge not influenced by the Western European historical experience.
This critique asks how much allegedly “transnational terrorist threats,” as framed by the events of 9.11.01 and their aftermath, are a displaced struggle for global social…
This critique asks how much allegedly “transnational terrorist threats,” as framed by the events of 9.11.01 and their aftermath, are a displaced struggle for global social justice mediated through cultural, religious, and ethnic conflicts. The loosely articulated transnational networks of anti-Western Islamic fundamentalists, which appear to be behind the attacks of 9.11.01 as well as many previous incidents, have concentrated their efforts on finding vulnerabilities in several major Western nation-states, even though many of their attacks have been directed mostly against high-profile U.S. targets.
A major focus of analysis for this study is asking to what extent Hardt's and Negri's “Empire” vs. “the Multitude” thesis is, or is not, substantiated by the nature of the 9.11.01 terrorist actions. The post-9.11.01 global response to these attacks, the multinational invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the new opening of the NATO alliance to Russia with operations outside of Europe, and the anti-terrorism campaigns inside many nation-states are signs of a different approach to national and transnational security that reflects a global struggle between newly found enemies and newly affirmed allies. On balance, there are many indications that these terrorist attacks are aimed at the U.S., but the role of the United States in the workings of what Hardt and Negri call “Empire” does lend support for seeing some Islamic terrorist networks as a counter-globalizing, anti-empire resistance movements that express class, cultural, religious, and ethnic conflicts caused by enduring economic inequalities in today's grids of globalization.
Nonetheless, the battleground of this unusual struggle continues to be found in nation-states, so their crosscurrents of social justice need to be addressed. Here the paper will look very closely at the outsourcing of military services in Iraq and Afghanistan to private contractors, foreign coalitional allies, and foreign national recruits in the U.S. military as another sign of class, gender, ethnic, and racial inequalities.
This paper examines the constitution and transformation of the political regime in the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century. It argues that…
This paper examines the constitution and transformation of the political regime in the Ottoman Empire in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th century. It argues that our understanding of the transitional stages between the end of empires and the formation of new states continues to be analytically underdeveloped, particularly in the context of Eastern/Southeastern Europe. Drawing on recent scholarship, which challenges the existing dichotomous empire-to-nation model and suggests furthering studies on the transition period, the paper offers a close-up look at the role of transnational ideologies played during the transition from empire-to-nation. It highlights the existence of a rather complex interplay between national and transnational ideologies. It argues that understanding the role of transnational ideologies allows us to attribute more agency to the political actors of the late Ottoman era, helping model the changes that happened in the state's legitimacy, the ideological transformations, and the political mobilization of the elites in this period. Focusing on the Ottoman case, it sheds insights on both Habsburg and Russian Empires, which exhibited similar characteristics at that time. It also illustrates the role that transnational ideologies played in all three cases.
Long established and revisionist approaches to European state formation are put to one side in this article and a turn to the imperial domains of early modern states is…
Long established and revisionist approaches to European state formation are put to one side in this article and a turn to the imperial domains of early modern states is made. The rise of Atlantic Studies as a new current of history has drawn attention to transatlantic patterns of colonialism. However, historical sociologists and comparativists have yet to grapple with the conclusions of this field of research. This article points to a possible line of argument that could draw historical sociology and Atlantic Studies together. It takes up the argument that early modern polities broke new ground in the formation of territorial institutions when they turned to transcontinental state building. From their inception, the projects of empire produced conflict-driven institutions. Comparative examination of the Spanish, British, Dutch, French and Portuguese empires reveals that, despite the authority accorded to overarching institutions of imperial government, domestic and colonial patterns of institutional formation diverged considerably. The article explores how developments in European territories took one course in each case, while colonial trajectories in the Americas took others and thereby generated distinct kinds of conflict.
Ever since its introduction into the vernacular of imperial historiography over a half century ago, the concept of “informal empire” has had a profound influence on how…
Ever since its introduction into the vernacular of imperial historiography over a half century ago, the concept of “informal empire” has had a profound influence on how historians have understood the size and nature of British expansion in the modern world. While offering a crucial corrective to definitions of empire that had focused exclusively on “formal” colonial holdings, such a division has also obscured other frameworks through which we might understand the contours of imperial power, while also underscoring traditional bifurcations between early modern and modern forms of empire. This paper suggests instead an approach that privileges schema that take into account the different institutional and constitutional forms that shaped imperial expansion, and specifically argues that the corporation was one such form, in competition with others including the monarchical and national state. Looking specifically at the early modern East India Company and its modern legacies, particularly George Goldie’s Royal Niger Company, it also suggests that institutional approaches that de-emphasize distinctions between behavioral categories, such as commerce and politics, allow the possibility of excavating deep ideological connections across the history of empire, from its seventeenth-century origins through the era of decolonization.
The purpose of this paper is to explore how the Empire Marketing Board used enhanced marketing tools and approaches to reduce British consumer bias against foreign…
The purpose of this paper is to explore how the Empire Marketing Board used enhanced marketing tools and approaches to reduce British consumer bias against foreign products. The paper asks: “How have marketers historically increased foreign exports to domestic markets?”
The paper comprises an historical account of the Empire Marketing Board during the 1920s and 1930s. Applying a qualitative approach, it relies on archival materials gathered by the author in the United Kingdom – including official and personal papers; newspaper and poster advertisements of the Board; and existing scholarship for its information.
The Board used three strategies in its advertisements: collaboration, showing how domestic and overseas markets were linked in mutually beneficial ways; globalization, emphasizing the expansive “home” market and the benefits of removing borders; and producer profiles, narrating the producers of imperial products to create the desire to benefit producers.
The strategies of the Board are not dissimilar to fair trade campaigns used by the private sector today, notably in coffee. Looking forward, these approaches could be valid ways for companies today to reduce consumer bias against foreign goods, and this paper hopes to be a stepping-stone for future research.
Analyzing under-used archival sources, the paper illuminates the complex processes and ideologies embedded within the Board’s campaigns. The Empire Marketing Board played an important role in the interwar British consumer conceptualization of the relationship between Britain and her Empire, construction of a global British “home” market and the familiarization of imperial producers.
Despite the exponential spread of the British Empire by the late nineteenth century, there remained in England a continued indifference to “the Empire”. In 1883, J.R…
Despite the exponential spread of the British Empire by the late nineteenth century, there remained in England a continued indifference to “the Empire”. In 1883, J.R. Seeley, Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge, had expressed concern because ‘we think of Great Britain too much and of Greater Britain too little’. People had to rethink their understandings of nation and empire, he suggested, and steps had to be taken to modify what he saw as a ‘defective constitution’. Seeley’s lecture series had prompted debate about ‘the imperial question’, but the ‘anomalous political arrangements’ and the reluctance of the people to think imperially persisted. Insularity was not exclusive to the people in Britain, however. Because of their preoccupation with their own local affairs, it was suggested, there had been little opportunity for people from other parts of the empire to devote much time to the larger questions of imperial and common citizenship.