Colonial Empire & Colonialism

Colonial Empire illustration

Colonial Empire & Colonialism Studies builds on our growing faculty expertise in Africa, Central Eurasia, South Asia, and Latin America and connects with our core strengths in North America and Europe. This field is premised on the critical assumption that the transregional empires of the early and modern period laid the foundation for the globally inter-connected and trans-national world in which we live and function today. These empires—Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, British, French, German, Ottoman, Russian/Soviet—and their spin-offs (such as the U.S. empire in the Pacific and the Japanese empire in Asia) provide the context in which to comparatively track the flow of ideas, images, institutions, goods and commodities, practices and peoples over time and across the various regions of the world from the 1500s down to the present. These connections, moreover, did not flow only from colonizing to colonized societies, from “the West” to “the rest.” Indeed the comparative study of these empires reveals mutually constitutive and interdependent histories that are global in scope even while being revelatory of localized processes.

This field will also build on and, in turn, contribute to the History department’s long-standing strengths in area studies, transnational and comparative history, and African diaspora and Caribbean studies, even as it connects to the University’s concern with deepening the internationalization of our curriculum. Not least, we hope that this field will provide the context in which to develop a Triangle Empires Initiative, and enable our faculty and students to network with faculty and students working in other departments on our campus as well as at UNC and NCSU.