Sociology Empires and Colonialism
by
George Steinmetz
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0090

Introduction

Empires have been the main form of large-scale political organization for at least two millennia, in contrast to modern bureaucratic states, which have existed for just a few centuries. Empires and colonies have been analyzed by sociologists for as long as sociology has existed as an intellectual field, starting with Auguste Comte in the early 19th century and the founders of the academic discipline in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States, and continuing into the present. Between the 1970s and the end of the 20th century, empires receded in the sociological imagination, but they have reemerged powerfully since then as part of the closely linked domains of “empire studies,” “colonial studies,” and “postcolonial studies.” This resurgent interest in empires corresponds in part to events in the real world, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reappearance of a fortified “American empire” and US military interventions overseas. The imperial and colonial turn in scholarship has also been inspired by trends inside academe, including revisionist histories of the British and French colonial empires and Nazi Germany, the emergence of global history, and theoretical developments such as postcolonial theory and subaltern studies. Although scholars are always eager to announce that rival schools and turns are passé or that they were never more than mere fashion, such gestures have been unable to stop the growth of imperial and colonial studies. This unabated enthusiasm corresponds to the power of the empirical and analytical work and to the real-world importance of the objects of analysis. The concept of empire encompasses colonialism and imperialism. Empires are political organizations that are expansive, militarized, and multinational, and that place limits on the sovereignty of the polities in their periphery. In colonialism, the conquered polities or populations are not just ruled over by foreign conquerors but are configured as inferior to their occupiers—inferior in legal, administrative, social, and cultural terms. Imperialism involves political control over foreign lands without the annexation of land or sovereignty. The sociological study of empires overlaps with the study of the state, political domination, geopolitics/political geography, international relations, indigenous peoples, and the historiography of specific empires and colonies. It overlaps with disciplines like anthropology, political science, and cultural studies. The topic of empire is central to several schools of social and cultural analysis, including world-system theory and postcolonial theory. Sociological work on empires can be found in several disciplinary subfields (see Sociology of Culture, Comparative Historical Sociology, Economic Sociology; Marxist Sociology Political Sociology; World-Systems Analysis. This essay focuses on (1) definitions of empire, colonialism, and related terms; (2) the different types of imperial practice or configurations of empire; and (3) theories and research concerning the origins, development, effects, and aftermaths of empire.

Basic Definitions: Empire

Empire is the overarching concept in all discussions of imperialism and colonialism. An empire can be defined minimally as a relationship “of political control imposed by some political societies over the effective sovereignty of other political societies” (Doyle 1986, p. 19). An empire usually involves a core polity governing peripheral spaces and populations; peripheries are typically subjected to different legal and administrative practices than the core. As Suny (Suny 2001, p. 25) writes, an empire is “a particular form of domination or control between two units set apart in a hierarchical, inequitable relationship, more precisely a composite state in which a metropole dominates a periphery to the disadvantage of the periphery.” As Max Weber (Weber 2010, cited under Premodern Empires) pointed out in his study of the Roman Empire, and as historians of European colonial empires and the Russian empire have shown, imperial centers usually deploy a variety of policies in the regions they dominate rather than applying a single uniform approach (Steinmetz 2007, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). Although the concept of empire is capacious, it is neither hopelessly vague and blurred, nor artificially restrictive—as long as we follow a historical approach in defining it (Ab Imperio). We can then exclude definitions that reduce empire narrowly to economics as well as definitions that are impossibly broad, equating empire with any form of hegemonic domination or influence (Darwin 2008). We can also disregard, for present purposes, all metaphorical usages of the words empire and imperialism. The noun imperium initially signified the legitimate power of princes, magistrates, and officials to command and punish their subjects (Weber 1978, pp. 650, 839). The concept of imperium was then “extended by analogy to mean Rome’s right to command obedience from the peoples it had subjected” (Lieven 2000, p. 8, cited under Modern Territorial, Land-Based Empires). During the medieval and early modern eras the concept of empire took on three dominant meanings in western Europe (Folz 1969; Lieven 2000, pp. 13–17, cited under Modern Territorial, Land-Based Empires): the German idea of Reich, as in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation; the Carolingian empire of Charlemagne; and the “universal” empire of the pope and Latin Christendom. In the 19th and 20th centuries empire came to refer to large territorial political organizations formed by conquest and to the collected overseas possessions of a single ruler or polity (Doyle 1986; Pagden 2003). Some empires, as exemplified by early modern Spain, 20th-century Britain, and the current United States, exist on a scale that is truly global; other empires have encompassed a single overseas colony (e.g., Belgium before World War I) or a handful of colonies (as in the German and Portuguese colonial empires). See also Burbank and Cooper 2010, Mann 1986–2012, and Münkler 2007.

  • Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the Post-Soviet Space. 2000–.

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    This journal is a venue for studies of empires past and present, including, but not limited to, Russian empires. The editors argue against the idea of a universal theory of empires and suggest that empires cannot be lumped into a single category, since empires build on other earlier and contemporary empires, embracing some aspects and rejecting others. While resolutely historical, Ab Imperio publishes articles by anthropologists and sociologists.

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    • Burbank, Jane, and Frederick Cooper. 2010. Empires in world history: Power and the politics of difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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      A historical survey of world empires from the Romans and ancient Chinese to the present. The authors focus on imperial statecraft, emphasizing the techniques these regimes used in attempting to regulate diversity. They contrast empires with nation-states, which seek sociocultural homogenization rather than reproducing difference. After the contrast between the unconnected Roman and Chinese cases, the second section presents a “connected history” of the Byzantine, Islamic, and Carolingian empires, which coexisted “in the post-Roman space” and shaped and influenced each other.

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      • Darwin, John. 2008. After Tamerlane: The global history of empire since 1405. New York: Bloomsbury.

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        A history of the modern world organized around the idea of empire, culminating in the post-1945 dismantling of the European imperial system and its replacement by the “American ʻsystemʼ” that was “imperial in all but name”—a “colossal imperium . . . on an unprecedented scale” (pp. 469–470). Darwin argues that the dual grand narratives of imperial history as exploitation and world history as modernization and progress are of limited value unless empires and states are viewed in their political and cultural dimensions.

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        • Doyle, Michael W. 1986. Empires. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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          A systematic treatment of the concepts and theories of empire. Doyle concludes that the success of empires was predicated on a power differential between metropole and periphery, political unity among the imperial elite, and the existence of some medium of transnational connectivity.

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          • Folz, Robert. 1969. The concept of empire in Western Europe from the fifth to the fourteenth century. London: Edward Arnold.

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            The author traces the survival and transformations of the idea of empire after the fall of the western Roman Empire under the influence of the papacy and Christian Church. The book reconstructs the transformation of the idea of universal empire into the notion of an empire as a specific group of territories, just prior to the Early Modern era.

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            • Mann, Michael. 1986–2012. The sources of social power. 4 vols. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511570896Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              A conceptually organized study of “higher order crystallizations of power” that generalizes about vast swathes of history while paying attention to contingency and blurred categorical boundaries. Volume 1 deals with ancient empires; Volume 2 treats the period in which empires gave way partly to nation-states (1760–1914). Volume 3 reanalyzes the 19th century in terms of “global empires and revolution” and carries this focus forward to 1945. The final volume culminates in the American empire and the present-day global crisis.

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              • Münkler, Herfried. 2007. Empires: The logic of world domination from Ancient Rome to the United States. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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                An analytically organized overview of the logic and history of empires by a leading German political theorist. The book details the differences and similarities between ancient and modern empires and concludes with a discussion of the recent return of the American empire.

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                • Pagden, Anthony. 2003. Peoples and empires: A short history of European migration, exploration, and conquest, from Greece to the present. New York: Modern Library.

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                  An elegantly written survey of European empires by a leading historian of the Spanish Empire and the Conquest of America.

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                  • Suny, Ronald Grigor. 2001. The empire strikes out: Imperial Russia, “national” identity, and theories of empire. In A state of nations: Empire and nation-making in the age of Lenin and Stalin. Edited by Ronald Grigor Suny and Terry Martin, 23–66. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                    The first section of this influential article is an analytic survey of imperial terminology and concepts ranging across various historical empires and literatures. The second section examines Russian and Soviet history from the standpoint of empire.

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                    • Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and Society: An outline of interpretive sociology. 2 vols. Edited by Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                      Weber agreed with writers like Hobson that capitalism had shifted to an aggressively imperialist stance and that the “political drives for expansion” were reinforced by capitalist interests. But political impulses sometimes trumped or violated these economic imperatives. States and empires were also driven to expand by “honor” and “prestige” (pp. 910–915).

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                      Basic Definitions: Imperialism

                      The word imperialism was first introduced in the early 19th century as a polemical neologism to decry Napoleon’s despotic militarism (Fisch, et al. 1982). The word was subsequently applied to Napoleon III and other aggressive rulers (Koebner and Schmidt 1964, pp. 1–26). When attached to the word imperium, the suffix “ism” suggested illegitimacy, anachronism, and hubris. Soon, the word imperialism was being used to describe the behavior of every historical empire, including Rome itself, which was now recast as an “imperialist imperium.” Starting with Hobson 1965 (cited under Hobson and Neo-Marxist Approaches), social scientists tried to define and analyze imperialism more rigorously. Salz (see Salz 1931) defined imperialism as encompassing the full range of a state’s efforts to increase its power through territorial conquest. A second definition, associated with Lenin, Luxemburg, and other Marxists, recast imperialism in economic terms as capitalism’s worldwide quest for investment opportunities, raw materials, or cheaper sources of labor. Between the two world wars, German social scientists pushed back against the economistic narrowing of the concept, insisting on imperialism’s primarily political character. Schumpeter (Schumpeter 1951, cited under Bellicist Theories of Empire), Sulzbach (Sulzbach 1942), and other social scientists attacked the idea that capitalism was intrinsically connected to imperialist aggression (see Mommsen 1980). In order to retain the original political meaning of the word imperialism while differentiating it from colonialism, it should be defined as a form of political control over foreign lands that does not involve conquest, occupation, and durable rule by invaders. For this reason, imperialism is actually “a more comprehensive concept” than colonialism, since it “presupposes the will and the ability of an imperial center to define as imperial its own national interests and enforce them worldwide in the anarchy of the international system.” This means that empires may understand colonies “not just as ends in themselves, but also [as] pawns in global power games” (Osterhammel 2005, pp. 21–22, cited under Basic Definitions: Colonies and Colonialism).

                      • Fisch, Jörg, Dieter Groh, and Rudolf Walther. 1982. Imperialismus. In Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland. Vol. 3. Edited by Otto Brunner, Werner Conze, and Reinhart Koselleck, 171–236. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.

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                        This contribution to the seminal Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe project investigates the historical genealogy of the concepts of empire, imperialism, and colonialism in various European contexts and languages.

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                        • Koebner, Richard, and Helmut Dan Schmidt. 1964. Imperialism: The story and significance of a political word, 1840–1960. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                          German-born historian Richard Koebner founded the Israeli historical profession after emigrating to Mandatory Palestine in 1934 and teaching at Hebrew University, and he published extensively on imperialism and colonial settlement. This book, based on Koebner’s notes and completed by one of his students after his death, reconstructs the deployment of the language of imperialism in British politics and by enemies of the British empire in Germany and the British colonies.

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                          • Mommsen, Wolfgang J. 1980. Theories of imperialism. New York: Random House.

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                            An excellent overview of social scientific theories of imperialism, covering work in several European languages, including the less familiar German authors, written by a leading modern imperial historian. Originally published in 1977.

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                            • Salz, Arthur. 1931. Das Wesen des Imperialismus. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner.

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                              Salz was a social economist who taught at Heidelberg from 1923 until 1933, when he was forced into exile. Imperialism for Salz encompassed the full range of policies aimed at extending a state’s power through territorial conquest. Salz argued that the economic definition of imperialism was misleading: imperialism had existed before capitalism; capitalist accumulation was often peaceful and unaggressive.

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                              • Sulzbach, Walter. 1942. “Capitalistic warmongers,” a modern superstition. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                Sulzbach taught sociology at Frankfurt before 1933 and again after 1956. Like Sulzbach and Schumpeter, he argued that imperialism is promoted by military and political leaders, not the economic bourgeoisie. Imperialists manipulate capitalists and the idea of vital national interests in order to justify their aggressive geopolicies.

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                                Basic Definitions: Colonies and Colonialism

                                The third keyword in this discussion, colonialism, is based on the Latin verb colere (to inhabit, till, cultivate) and on the related noun colonus (tiller of the soil). Both words point to the institution of the Roman coloni (Weber 2010, cited under Premodern Empires). The words colony and colonization are thus clearly linked to Greek and Roman expansion. The word colony was “used to designate a territory occupied by emigrants from a ʻmotherʼ country” (Gonzalez Casanova 1965, p. 28, cited under Internal Colonialism). Due to these Roman origins the words colony and colonization are often defined simply as land settlement, without the additional political meanings of conquest and rule over people. For Adam Smith (in Wealth of Nations), the Latin word colonia signified “simply a plantation,” while the Greek word for colony, anoikta, signified “a separation of dwelling, a departure from home, a going out of the house.” In contrast to these older meanings, modern social science defines a colony as a geopolitical entity created by representatives of a foreign polity outside their own territory. Colonialism emerged as a widespread geopolitical practice in the 16th and 17th centuries, but the word colonial with the suffix “-ism” attached to it did not come into use until the end of the 19th century. Again, the suffix suggested a condemning judgment. Critical studies of settler colonialism insist that definitions of colony that restrict it to the colonization of land should not obscure the key definition of colonialism as rule over people (Veracini 2010, p. 14, cited under Settler Interests and Colonial Policies). Colonialism in this modern sense involves a specific sequence of events (Steinmetz 2008, cited under Bourdieusian Theory and Colonialism): (1) territorial takeover by a foreign group, followed by (2) the smashing of indigenous political sovereignty, and (3) the creation of durable structures of rule over the annexed territory and its inhabitants (Eckert 2006). Modern colonialism is not necessarily based on large-scale foreign settlement. Few of the colonies founded during the late-19th-century “scramble” for Africa and Asia attracted significant numbers of European settlers.

                                • Eckert, Andreas. 2006. Kolonialismus. Frankfurt: Fischer-Taschenbuch Verl.

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                                  A concise and comprehensive treatment of research and theory on empires, colonialism, and decolonization, written by the leading contemporary German historian of colonial Africa.

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                                  • Osterhammel, Jürgen. 2005. Colonialism: A theoretical overview. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener.

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                                    This book by one of the world’s leading global historians is a highly readable, analytical overview of the theories and terminology of colonial studies. Osterhammel discusses different colonial epochs, analyzes the colonial state, economy, society, and ideology, and surveys the processes of decolonization.

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                                    “Colonialism” versus “Imperialism”

                                    Colonialism can be distinguished from imperialism and from settler colonialism in two main ways. First, unlike imperialism, colonialism always involves a territorial takeover followed by arrogation of sovereignty by the conquering power and ongoing foreign rule over the annexed space. Colonial rule tends to understand itself as permanent, or as being limited temporally only by a vaguely defined endpoint when the conquered population will have reached a threshold of civilization or modernity, as defined by the conqueror. The aim of perpetuating colonialism is more important to its definition than a colony’s actual life-span, since most colonial regimes have ended in ways unforeseen by their masters. The French and British African empires collapsed like a house of cards around 1960 in ways that were hastily arranged and largely unexpected. The Nazi occupation of eastern Europe had clear colonial traits even though it lasted just five years and was divided between the “settlement-oriented SS and the exploitation-oriented civil administration” (Moses 2008, p. 377, cited under Settler Colonialism); it was intended, after all, to last a thousand years. The American occupation of Iraq actually lasted slightly longer than the Nazi occupation. Even though the United States deployed certain techniques and vocabularies that were reminiscent of colonialism, however, the occupation was never intended to be permanent. The second defining characteristic of colonialism is that it is organized around assumptions of racial or civilizational hierarchy. All members of the colonized population are configured as inferior to all members of the colonizing society. These asymmetries are codified and enforced through law, administrative policy, and informal practice. Related to this, most modern colonizers have invoked some version of the doctrine of res nullius or terra nullius—“the idea that land (and by implication economic resources) not effectively utilized by the indigenous population could legitimately be expropriated and developed by a superior invading nation” (Lieven 2000, p. 4, cited under Modern Territorial, Land-Based Empires). The main exception was Spain, which relied “on the claim that America had been acquired by conquest in pursuit of what its perpetrators claimed to have been a just war” (Pagden 1995, p. 92; cited under Settler Colonialism). The foreign seizure of sovereignty and the systematic treatment of the colonized as inferior are the distinguishing features of the “colonial situation” (Balandier 1966), as opposed to what might be called the “imperialist situation.”

                                    • Balandier, Georges. 1966. The colonial situation: A theoretical approach. In Social change: The colonial situation. Edited by Immanuel Wallerstein, 34–61. New York: Wiley.

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                                      The most famous publication by this pioneering French colonial sociologist. For Balandier, modern colonialism is a novel social formation that should be treated as a total social fact, one in which all social, cultural, and economic relations are permeated by coloniality. Following Leiris (see Leiris 1989, cited under Colonizer-Colonized Relation), Balandier criticizes anthropology for ignoring colonialism and lavishing its attention supposedly pure, primitive native cultures. Originally published in 1951.

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                                      The Colonizer-Colonized Relation

                                      Some writers criticize the paired concepts of colonizer and colonized as overly reductive, pointing to the fuzziness of the boundary between the two terms and the fact that some individuals and groups succeeded in crossing over and being identified with the superior group. Colonial rule in the Spanish New World was initially based on a distinction between conquerors and the conquered, for instance, but by the late 17th century this system “came to be blurred by racial intermingling” and gave way to a complex, multidimensional “Sistema de Castas.” Although ancestry and race continued to shape access to rights, “the barriers of segregation were far from being impassable” in practice (Elliott 2006, 170–171, cited under “Early Modern” versus “Modern” Colonialism). During the 19th century, however, European colonial powers sought to harden racial classification systems and the boundaries between colonizer and colonized. The reasons for this shift included new “scientific” ideas about race as well as emerging arguments about the illegitimacy of foreign conquest. Whereas male colonizers in the early modern period had “impregnated native women” (Wolfe 1997, p. 416) and sometimes married them, the 19th and early 20th centuries saw the creation of legal bans on intermarriage in African and Pacific colonies. Although European rulers divided their subjects into different tribal and racial groups as a technique of domination, they also subsumed all of the colonized under an overarching, inferior category. As (Suny 2001, p. 32, cited under Basic Definitions: Empire) writes, “at the base of European self-understandings lay the underlying problem of constructing and reproducing the categories of the colonized and the colonizer, keeping them distinct, one inferior to the other.” Sociologist and novelist Albert Memmi, who wrote a classic study of colonizer-colonized relations, was born in colonial Tunisia as the son of a Jewish Italian immigrant father and a Berber mother and could therefore claim some authority on this question. Memmi argued that “the colonial relationship . . . chained the colonizer and the colonized into an implacable dependence,” but he also emphasized the gulf that separates the two categories due to the racism encoded in legal and administrative policy (Memmi 1991, pp. ix, xvi). The so-called rule of colonial difference (Chatterjee 1993) prevents most colonized subjects from attaining legal rights and recognition and status equal to the colonizers. In the German overseas colonies before World War I, a few members of the colonized population succeed in attaining equal rights and status, but they did so by being legally redefined as “white” by the administration and treated as white under colonial law (Steinmetz 2007, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). See also Leiris 1989 and Prakash 1994.

                                      • Chatterjee, Partha. 1993. The nation and its fragments. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                        For Chatterjee, the colonial state is distinguished by its enforcement of a “rule of colonial difference.” Nationalism in Asia and Africa was based on the colonial state’s reconstruction of native cultures and their resulting division into opposing material and spiritual domains. The latter provided the basis for anticolonial movements and their imagining of the nation.

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                                        • Leiris, Michel. 1989. The ethnographer faced with colonialism. In Brisées = Broken branches. By Michel Leiris, 125–145. San Francisco: North Point.

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                                          Originally published in 1952. In 1934 Leiris published a blistering critique of an African ethnography mission in which he had participated. His 1952 essay attacked ethnographers’ preference for “peoples one can qualify as relatively intact.” This preference was based in “a love of a certain ‘primitivism’” or “exoticism.” The most “authentic” Africans, Leiris countered, were those ethnographers dismissed as “mere imitators” of Western culture (pp. 124–127)—Africans who had been “worked over by colonialism,” in Prakash’s terms (see Prakash 1994).

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                                          • Memmi, Albert. 1991. The colonizer and the colonized. Boston: Beacon.

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                                            Memmi’s book details the combination of inextricable ties and unbridgeable divisions that characterize the colonizer-colonized relationship. The book begins with a portrait of the political impotence of the anticolonial colonizer, whose project is vitiated by distaste for what he sees as the nationalism, religion, and terrorist violence of the colonized. Memmi then discusses the “colonizer who accepts.” The book’s concluding section discusses feelings of dependency and self-doubt among the colonized and their pervasive need for change. Originally published in 1957.

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                                            • Prakash, Gyan. 1994. Subaltern studies as postcolonial criticism. American Historical Review 99.5: 1475–1490.

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                                              Prakash (pp. 1475–1476) argues that postcolonial societies and postcolonial critics cannot avoid “the structures of Western domination that [they seek] to undo,” since they have both been thoroughly “worked over by colonialism.” The article connects postcolonial theory to the separately evolving Subaltern school of colonial historiography (see Subaltern School of History and Postcolonial Theory).

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                                              • Wolfe, Patrick. 1997. History and imperialism: A century of theory, from Marx to postcolonialism. American Historical Review 102.2: 388–420.

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                                                A widely-cited, comprehensive survey of theories of imperialism by a leading specialist in settler colonialism and the anthropology-colonialism nexus.

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                                                Basic Definitions: The State

                                                The final keyword in any discussion of empires is “the state.” Max Weber, widely viewed as the leading modern sociological theorist of the state, distinguished between states and empires in Economy and Society and other writings (see also Premodern Empires). In recent decades social scientists have often used the word state when referring to the same organizations that historians conventionally called empires. This analytic confusion and conceptual transubstantiation of empires into states occurred during a comparatively brief world-historical moment lasting from roughly 1960 to the end of the 20th century. This was a period in which colonies largely disappeared (with the exception of settler and internal colonies) and nationalizing states became the leading edge of political power and the dominant form of political community. Left unexplored in this period was the way in which the United States was becoming a “colossal imperium” on an “unprecedented scale” that was “imperial in all but name” (Darwin 2008, pp. 469–470, cited under Basic Definitions: Empire). The institutions and practices of Atlantic Fordism meant that most social processes and social imaginaries were limited spatially to the scale of the national territory. In this global context, sociology and other social science disciplines largely adopted the ontological assumptions of “methodological nationalism.” Within the interdisciplinary subfield known as “the sociology of the state,” empires were either ignored or consigned to the distant historical past. These prevailing social-ontological assumptions made it difficult for social scientists to recognize that states are a very recent phenomenon in the sweep of human history and that they may not be the end point of that history. As recently as 1960 most of the earth was organized politically by empires, colonies, protectorates, or dependencies. Many of the states located in the northern core had imperial extensions. If one accepts that the less formal American geopolitical practices can also be characterized as imperial (Steinmetz 2005), the age of empires has continued up to the present.

                                                • Steinmetz, George. 2005. Return to empire: The new U.S. imperialism in theoretical and historical perspective. Sociological Theory 23.4: 339–367.

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                                                  The author contrasts territorial and nonterritorial types of modern empire (colonialism versus imperialism). These political strategies have not typically appeared in isolated or pure form but have been mixed together in the geopolitical repertoires of states. The paper suggests that while America’s current informal imperialism may not endanger its economic or geopolitical paramountcy, thee practices are remaking dominant patterns and routines of domestic societal regulation.

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                                                  The State in the Context of Empire Studies

                                                  States should be brought into the study of empires at three different points. First, empires almost always have a state at their center (Schmitt 1991, p. 67). Empires can be imagined as solar systems, with the core state representing the sun and the colonized peripheries representing the circulating planets, bound to the state and to each other by gravitational pull. Secondly, the planets in this imperial solar system possess their own states. Peripheral states take two different forms. On the one hand, colonizers almost always rely on indirect rule. This entails the preservation or invention of indigenous polities, which are native states. Although these polities’ independence is extremely limited, they usually possess rudimentary administrative, legal, and security apparatuses. On the other hand, colonizers create colonial states—administrative apparatuses for governing colonies (Young 1994; Steinmetz 2008, cited under Bourdieusian Theory and Colonialism). Colonial states usually maintain significant autonomy from their respective core states even if ultimate authority always resides in the center (Pagden 1995, chapter 5, cited under Settler Colonialism; Steinmetz 2007, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). For reasons that cannot be reduced to transportation or communication technologies, local colonial administrators are usually able to initiate and implement new policies and to ignore, delay, or adjust orders coming from metropolitan offices. Colonial states also wall themselves off from local indigenous populations, who are rarely allowed more than token forms of political participation. Of course the actual implementation of specific colonial policies is contingent on participation by the colonized. Colonial rule confronts a wide spectrum of indigenous resistance, ranging from “exit” to foot-dragging to armed uprisings (see Collaboration, Rebellion, and Anticolonial Resistance and Subaltern School of History). The third way in which states figure into discussions of empire is as the origins and end points of empires. States like Belgium or Italy eventually obtained empires. States that possessed empires devolved into states, as with the dismantling of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires or the decolonized European empires after 1945. As Lieven 2000 (cited under Modern Territorial, Land-Based Empires) notes, “the surest way to save an empire” in 19th-century Europe was often “to turn as much as possible of it into a nation,” that is, into a nationalizing state (p. 281). States and empires should be thought of as two extreme points along a continuous spectrum of political forms. States often behave like empires or “empire-states” (Steinmetz 2005, cited under Basic Definitions: The State). This is partly because states and empires are subject to similar structural pressures rooted in the realities of geopolitics and resource dependency. It is also because most states are the direct institutional descendents of colonies or empires and therefore continue to operate according to inherited imperial procedures and to defend the often arbitrary territorial boundaries bequeathed to them. Historians have called attention to the ways in which state formation in the European political heartland resembled colonial conquest (Given 1990). Land appropriations by modern nationalizing states differ from land appropriations carried out by colonizing empires, however—even if the difference is mainly one of duration and often only perceptible in hindsight. Nationalizing states begin soon after annexation to dismantle legal, administrative, and citizenship differences between the conquerors and the conquered, while colonizing empires seek and underscore difference (see Basic Definitions: Colonies and Colonialism). See also Tilly 1992.

                                                  • Given, James. 1990. State and society in medieval Europe: Gwynedd and Languedoc under outside rule. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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                                                    James Given examines the ways Gwynedd and Languedoc were conquered and incorporated into the medieval English and French states. Because Gwynedd was relatively underdeveloped, the English implemented direct rule, imposed new governing institutions, and discriminated against the indigenous population. Rebellion in the early 15th century was the result. Languedoc had a more developed political system before conquest. Although Languedocians also viewed their conquerors as culturally alien, some served in northern French royal posts.

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                                                    • Schmitt, Carl. 1991. Volkerrechtliche Grossraumordnung mit Interventionsverbot fur raumfremde Machte. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

                                                      DOI: 10.3790/978-3-428-07110-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Originally published in 1941. In this text Schmitt first discussed the possibility of creating a political “great space” (Grossraum). Schmitt points to the American Monroe Doctrine as the paradigmatic example of a powerful state dominating weaker ones while leaving their political sovereignty largely intact. Schmitt argued that colonialist and imperialist principles were obsolete and that Nazi Germany should forge a Grossraum over central and eastern Europe.

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                                                      • Tilly, Charles. 1992. Coercion, capital, and European states, AD 990–1992. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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                                                        Tilly rejects the idea of a singular model of state formation and shows how the balance of power between wielders of coercive power and capital resulted in different forms of polity: tribute-taking empires, systems of fragmented sovereignty, and national states. The final chapter argues that postcolonial states are often able to use foreign revenue and aid to become autonomous from their own civil societies, leading to despotism.

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                                                        • Young, Crawford. 1994. The African colonial state in comparative perspective. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                          A systematic treatment of the definition, history, and legacies of the colonial state. Young, a Political Scientist, is especially good on the differences and similarities between metropolitan and colonial states.

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                                                          Historical Empires: Imperial Strategies and Configurations

                                                          Empires typically combine a wide array of imperial strategies, resulting in mixed or hybrid political formations (Steinmetz 2005, cited under Basic Definitions: The State; Burbank and Cooper 2010, pp. 3–8, cited under Basic Definitions: Empire). There are four basic strategies that were combined into higher-order imperial configurations: (1) premodern land-based empire; (2) modern territorial empire; (3) colonialism; and (4) informal, nonterritorial imperialism—political control of far-flung areas without territorial annexation (see Basic Definitions: Imperialism). Predominantly colonial strategies evolve into imperialist ones, as in the 19th-century British “imperialism of free trade” (Gallagher and Robinson 1953) or the shift from French colonial rule in Africa to the postcolonial neocolonial policies of Françafrique. Informal imperialism can be transformed into formal colonialism, as with the shift from British East Indies Company domination in India to formal British dominion. Although it is useful to distinguish among these four imperial approaches, they rarely exist in an unmixed form. During the 18th century the Austrian Empire treated the Austrian Netherlands in an imperialist manner as a pawn in games of “territorial barter,” while treating Hungary like a colony whose best lands were redistributed mainly to German nobles (Kann 1974, pp. 74, 89). The German Kaiserreich during the last third of the 19th century constituted an “empire” or Reich vis-à-vis its constituent kingdoms, duchies, principalities, and free cities, which were both subject to the emperor and independent in certain respects. The Kaiserreich also engaged in various imperialist but non-colonial practices, as in its efforts to influence China and the Ottoman Empire through military advisers and scientific and cultural missions. Finally, the Kaiserreich became a full-fledged Kolonialreich or colonial empire after 1884 through the annexation of colonies in Africa, Oceania, and China (Dickinson 2008). American foreign policy at the end of the 19th century also reveals a combination of imperial methods. The United States embarked on a career of overseas colonialism in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Pacific while pursuing a non-colonial approach to China (the “Open Door” policy) and Latin America (the Monroe Doctrine). The British rulers and later the apartheid government in South Africa mixed direct and indirect rule in governing Africans (Mamdani 1996).

                                                          • Dickinson, Edward Ross. 2008. The German Empire: An empire? History Workshop Journal 66.1: 129–162.

                                                            DOI: 10.1093/hwj/dbn028Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            An analysis of the German Kaiserreich (1871–1918) as both a territorial and colonial empire, summarizing recent literature by historians and others from the human and social sciences.

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                                                            • Gallagher, John, and Ronald Robinson. 1953. The imperialism of free trade. Economic History Review 6:1–15.

                                                              DOI: 10.2307/2591017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              The authors contrast the strategy of seeking commercial supremacy and monopoly through the political possession of colonies to the “imperialism of free trade,” in which capitalists are willing to give up formal control once “satisfactory political frameworks” are established that allow security and profit opportunities.

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                                                              • Kann, Robert A. 1974. A history of the Habsburg Empire, 1526–1918. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                Kann was born in Vienna and worked as a jurist until the Nazi Anschluss, when he was forced to emigrate. In the United States he became a leading historian of the Habsburg Empire. Here and in his two-volume The Multinational Empire (1950), Kann emphasized conquest, conflict, and institution building in the empire’s far-flung territories.

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                                                                • Mamdani, Mahmood. 1996. Citizen and subject: Contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                  Focusing empirically on the South African apartheid regime, Mamdani argues that colonial states were typically bifurcated into direct rule in the cities and indirect rule through custom in the countryside, where sociopolitical relations were based on coercion rather than law and land was not commodified. Postcolonial states deracialize themselves by getting rid of direct rule but find it difficult to detribalize, because this requires eliminating the powerful local states and identities manufactured by colonialism.

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                                                                  Premodern Empires

                                                                  As Burbank and Cooper 2010 (cited under Basic Definitions: Empire) insist, it is important not to reify the distinction between premodern and modern empires, since certain imperial strategies are used in both periods. The distinction is nevertheless a useful historical heuristic device, pointing to political and rhetorical starting points and turning points and to long-term transitions in the history of empires. For example, it is possible to identify a decline over time in the tendency of empire-states to expand territorially through conquest of geographically contiguous territories. The idea of ancient or premodern empires identifies historical precedents that have served as models (Khalidi 2006, pp. 48–49, cited under Settler Colonialism) and as warnings (Hell 2009) for subsequent empire-builders. And while empires usually coexist with other empires, the reciprocal monitoring and mutual comparison among empires is heightened in the modern era. This does not mean that “premodern” imperial ideas or political technologies have disappeared, however. If Rome was the European prototype of large agrarian political organizations forged by military conquest (that is, empire), the Mongol Empire represented a rival model. China had many similar characteristics, although it tended to rule its subjects “under the same kind of bureaucratic organization” rather than dividing them into distinct groups (Wong 2006, p. 199). Ancient empires typically combined restless expansion and militarism with efforts to stabilize the conquered, often by offering peace and prosperity in exchange for subjection and tribute (Pagden 2003, pp. xvi–xxiii, 13, 26; Mann 1986–2012, p. 145, both cited under Basic Definitions: Empire). One result of these continuous waves of conquest and incorporation was that ancient empires were usually multicultural or multi-civilizational, and often polytheistic or multidenominational. Some empires integrated the conquered into the core culture to a greater extent than others. With the rise of Christianity and the formation of the Byzantine, Islamic, and western (Holy Roman) empires, the religious pluralism of premodern empires was eroded. Classic sociologists dealt extensively with premodern empires, but their contributions were forgotten as the discipline became increasingly presentist. Max Weber was an important comparative historical sociologist of ancient empires, focusing on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire (Weber 2010) and with other modern and ancient empires (see Basic Definitions: Empire). Eisenstadt (Eisenstadt 2010) wrote a massive comparative sociology of traditional empires. In the first volume of his Sources of Social Power, (Mann 1986–2012; cited under Basic Definitions: Empire), Mann analyzes the different configurations of economic, cultural, military, and political sources of power in premodern empires. Mattingly 2011 and other Romanists have introduced ideas from subaltern studies and postcolonial theory to the study of ancient empires (see also Subaltern School of History and Postcolonial Theory).

                                                                  • Eisenstadt, S. N. 2010. The political systems of empires. London: Free Press of Glencoe.

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                                                                    This book assembles evidence on a wide variety of cases in order to determine the “conditions of the perpetuation of the political systems of the historical bureaucratic empires.” The most important precondition for the consolidation of empires was the existence of “free-floating, mobile resources”—“activities and orientations, not embedded in the structure of ascriptive groups”—which could then “be controlled and utilized at the ruler’s discretion.” Originally published in 1963.

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                                                                    • Hell, Julia. 2009. Katechon: Carl Schmitt’s imperial theology and the ruins of the future. Germanic Review 84.4: 283–326.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/00168890903291443Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Hell argues that Western empires have been haunted by the scenario of the end of the Roman Empire—specifically by that empire’s end in ruins. Imperial thinkers and politicians have proposed various strategies for delaying the seemingly inevitable end of empire, but all have fallen prey to the irresistible fascination with imperial ruins, which the author describes as scenarios of imperial ruin gazing. She interprets Carl Schmitt’s concept of the Katechon in the context of the Nazis’ concern with Roman imperial precedents and with forestalling demise.

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                                                                      • Mattingly, D. J. 2011. Imperialism, power, and identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                        A study of the Roman Empire guided by concepts from colonial studies and postcolonial theory. Mattingly focuses on Roman colonialism and resource exploitation in Britain and Northern Africa, anti-Roman resistance, sex/gender, and imperial ideologies and identities.

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                                                                        • Weber, Max. 2010. Roman agrarian history in its relation to Roman public and civil law. 2d revised translation ed. Claremont, CA: Regina.

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                                                                          Originally published in 1891. Weber emphasizes Rome’s movement away from an earlier, more compact state toward an empire of conquests and decentralized manorial power. The impetus for Roman expansion was both political and economic. Rome “provided for her landless citizens” through “distributions of land and colonial foundations.” Rome’s decline resulted not from barbarian invasions or Christianity but from the shift in the political center of gravity from the coastal cities to the countryside and rural manors, and from a commercial economy to a static “natural economy” (pp. 163–164).

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                                                                          • Wong, R. Bin. 2006. China’s agrarian empire: A different kind of empire, a different kind of lesson. In Lessons of empire: Imperial histories and American power. Edited by Craig J. Calhoun, Frederick Cooper, and Kevin W. Moore, 189–200. New York: New Press.

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                                                                            This study of China as an empire is part of an edited volume comparing the United States with other historical empires. The Chinese empires were ruled mainly through persuasion and negotiation rather than brute force, Wong argues, and they treated most of their subjects as equals rather than creating or reinforcing cultural differences (as in European empires). China also differs insofar as the modern nation-state occupies the same territory as “a previous agrarian empire” (pp. 198–199), whereas most European empires lost significant amounts of territory in the transitions to nation-state status.

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                                                                            Modern Territorial, Land-Based Empires

                                                                            Modern land-based empires retain many of the features of traditional empires, including a contradictory emphasis on military strength, restless expansion, and stabilized peace. A similar pattern of relentless expansion, conquest, and territorial integration characterized the westward extension of the United States and the eastward expansion of Russia during the 19th century (Etkind 2011), and may describe the USSR as well (Lieven 2000). The American state’s extension of its power throughout the continent was an imperial process, driven by clashes among several European empires (Taylor 2001). Government policies toward Native Americans varied from informal domination to formal colonialism on reservations and outright extermination (White 1991). In response to Mexican and American geopolitical and economic pressures the Comanche Indians were able to create their own quasi-empire (roughly 1750–1875) in the American Southwest (Hämäläinen 2008). In central Europe, a new era of continental imperial expansion began in 1938 with the German Anschluss of Austria and Sudetenland followed by the annexation of western Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the invasion of the Soviet Union (Mazower 2008). Modern land-based empires, like traditional empires, emphasized difference rather than universalizing homogeneity. Most European states continued to reflect the legacy of the political order created in 1648, which operated under the motto cujus regio, ejus religio, meaning that the ruler dictated the religion of the ruled. By contrast, empire-states like the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, tsarist Russia, and the United States displayed high levels of religious heterogeneity. The Habsburg Empire was famously multinational (Roth 2003). Bismarck’s unified Germany called itself an empire (Kaiserreich) rather than a kingdom or monarchy because it united more than two dozen formerly independent polities under the aegis of Prussia, whose Prussian king was now called the kaiser, a German translation of Caesar.

                                                                            • Etkind, Alexander. 2011. Internal colonization: Russia’s imperial experience. Cambridge, UK, and Malden, MA: Polity.

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                                                                              One of several recent histories that explore the ways in which the Russian empire conquered territory and “colonized” its own heartland. Drawing on postcolonial theory, the author reconstructs the extensive Russian discussions of “self-colonization” in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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                                                                              • Hämäläinen, Pekka. 2008. The Comanche empire. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                The author argues that the Comanches created a quasi-imperial structure of political domination, trade, tribute extraction, and cultural influence, based on military superiority, during the high point of European imperialism in the southern Great Plains. The Comanches were nomadic and never built an imperial bureaucracy organized around a central state. If this was indeed an empire, then, it was one without a metropole. The closest historical analogs are the ancient marcher states.

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                                                                                • Lieven, D. C. B. 2000. Empire: The Russian Empire and its rivals. London: John Murray.

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                                                                                  A comprehensive “comparative and entangled” history of the concepts and realities of empire in the Roman, Chinese, American, British, Ottoman, and Habsburg empires. The first part of the book focuses on Russian imperial expansion from 1551 through 1914. The author then compares the Soviet Union to the British, Ottoman and Habsburg empires and their aftermaths. The book contains an excellent annotated bibliography for empire studies.

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                                                                                  • Mazower, Mark. 2008. Hitler’s empire, how the Nazis ruled Europe. New York: Penguin.

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                                                                                    An excellent study of the ways Nazi rule was imagined and planned as an empire and the application of techniques drawn from the repertoire of European colonialism to the Nazi-occupied countries.

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                                                                                    • Roth, Joseph. 2003. The Radetzky march. Translated by Michael Hofmann. London: Granta.

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                                                                                      Originally published in 1932. Roth was born in Brody, a sizable Jewish town formerly located in the easternmost reaches of the Dual Monarchy. The Radetzky March, his most famous novel, is a sweeping, melancholy evocation of the inexorable demise of this once great empire.

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                                                                                      • Taylor, Alan. 2001. American colonies: The settling of North America. New York: Penguin.

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                                                                                        Taylor paints a tableau of the United States as the result of multiple colonial thrusts by clashing European empires and of settlers’ interactions with native Americans. The book begins with the Spanish in the Southwest and the French in Canada; it then moves to the mid-Atlantic and New England colonies; it explores imperial activity in the West Indies, the Dutch in New Netherland, Spanish in California, and Russians in Alaska, and 18th-century immigration and slavery. The book concludes with the emergence of the United States as the “dominant colonial power on the Pacific rim.”

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                                                                                        • White, Richard. 1991. “It’s your misfortune and none of my own”: A history of the American West. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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                                                                                          A comprehensive history of the westward expansion of the U.S. state focusing on the treatment of Native Americans and the key moments of conquest, land seizure, white settlement, integration into the capitalist economy, frontier state building, displacement, confinement to reservations, Indian “termination” (in the 1950s), and the partial restoration of Indian sovereignty since the 1960s.

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                                                                                          Colonies and Colonial Empires

                                                                                          Colonies have been typologized in various ways. Ratzel 1923 (pp. 102–105) distinguished between “colonies of settlement” and “colonies of exploitation.” Other typologies emphasize colonies’ dominant mode of production or economic form. Historians distinguish between early modern colonialism (roughly 1490’s to the late 18th century) and “modern” colonialism (late 19th century to the 1960s). The former involved trade, slavery, and large-scale European settlement; the latter exploited the colonized population as a labor force and usually involved less European settlement. Other distinctions among colonies relate to their size, their mix of direct and indirect rule; their degree of autonomy from the metropole; and the social background and training of their administrators (Fieldhouse 1966). Despite their centrifugal and fissiparous tendencies, colonial empires were relatively coherent, unified formations that existed not only in a material and practical sense but also within the discourse and imaginations of colonial actors. Officials struggled relentlessly with one another in trying to dominate the colonial administrative field in each colony (Steinmetz 2007), but these conflicts were predicated on the shared recognition of the existence of the colonial state and empire. A colonial empire was knitted together by various institutions and practices, including: publications and decrees by colonial offices; circulation of officials among different colonies; the training of colonial civil servants; and official visits by European dignitaries, armies, and navies. Colonialism and empire were made visible in northern Europe by colonial shops selling tropical produce. Novels and films were set in real or imagined colonies. German cigarette manufacturers distributed illustrated stamps that could be pasted into colorful workbooks depicting the German colonies. Colonial empires treated synthetically in journals such as the British United Empire and in the ubiquitous colonial exhibitions. Visitors to the 1896 Berlin Trade Exhibition, for example, could view a collection of native villages staffed by subjects of the German colonies (Geppert 2010) as well as a section called “Cairo” staffed by hundreds of Egyptians. This combination pointed to the fact that empires like the German, French, and British ones combined colonial empires with informal, non-colonial ones (see Informal, Non-territorial Empires).

                                                                                          • Fieldhouse, D. K. 1966. The colonial empires: A comparative survey from the eighteenth century. New York: Dell.

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                                                                                            A standard reference work by a leading colonial historian, published in the immediate aftermath of decolonization. The book provides a comprehensive survey of the various colonial empires from 1815 through to collapse of these empires.

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                                                                                            • Geppert, Alexander C. T. 2010. Fleeting cities: Imperial expositions in fin-de-siècle Europe. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1057/9780230281837Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              The most comprehensive study of European imperial and colonial exhibitions, from the 1896 Berlin Trade Exposition through the 1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition. The book includes an overview of the current field of “exhibition studies” and discusses the phenomenon of “exhibition fatigue”—that is, the decline of this once hugely popular cultural form. Also included in this volume is a translation of sociologist Georg Simmel’s essay on the 1896 Berlin Trade Exhibition.

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                                                                                              • Ratzel, Friedrich. 1923. Politische Geographie. 3d ed. Munich: R. Oldenbourg.

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                                                                                                For Ratzel, the father of political geography, world history was a succession of empires from start to finish, and all of these empires were modeled on Rome. All political communities are driven to expand and conquer, Ratzel argued. This compulsion becomes especially pronounced once communities “become conscious of global spatial relations” (p. 266). Confronting the fear of Roman decline, Ratzel insisted that there was no “deeply rooted law of dissolution of large empires” (p. 161).

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                                                                                                • Steinmetz, George. 2007. The devil’s handwriting: Precoloniality and the German colonial state in Qingdao, Samoa, and Southwest Africa. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226772448.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Dramatically different native policies were enacted in Germany’s colonies, ranging from genocide to cultural protection. The book evaluates Edward Said’s (1978) thesis and concludes that native policies were indeed based on precolonial Orientalist representations of non-Western cultures. These representations were internally heterogeneous, however, and their translation into public policy was mediated by competition among colonial officials over a peculiar form of symbolic capital the author dubs “ethnographic capital.” The willingness of the colonized to play their assigned parts was another key factor shaping the success or failure of policy implementation in German Southwest Africa, Samoa, and Qingdao (China).

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                                                                                                  “Early Modern” versus “Modern” Colonialism

                                                                                                  The distinction between the Early Modern and Modern era empires is marked by continuities as well as discontinuities. Just as ancient or premodern imperial strategies resurfaced later, some Early Modern colonial ideas and methods persisted into the Modern era or were rediscovered. Nevertheless, the periodization does capture several broad changes in imperial practice. It maps broadly onto the redirection of European imperial attentions from the Western Hemisphere onto Asia and the Middle East (Britain’s “imperial meridian”) and subsequently to Africa, as well as the movement away from slavery as the dominant mode of imperial economic exploitation. Early Modern colonialism in the Americas involved large-scale resettlement of foreign nationals, especially in New Spain (Elliott 2006) and, somewhat later, in the British American colonies. Due to the zero-sum nature of land distribution, colonizers expelled indigenous inhabitants and then exploited or exterminated them. These eliminationist impulses were counteracted to some extent by Christian conceptions of unified mankind. While Counter-Reformation intellectuals like Sepúlveda defended policies of enslavement, warfare, and racial inequality, the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas insisted on the Indians’ moral and cultural equality and even their superiority to Europeans. Intermarriage between Europeans and natives was more common in the Early Modern empires before the emergence of modern, biological notions of race, and at a time when men vastly outnumbered women among the settlers. Most of the European colonies founded after the mid-19th century were located in regions and climate zones that were not deemed suitable for European habitation, or in places like China that were too densely populated to allow European colonial settler fantasies to take hold. The emphasis in these new colonies was therefore less on expelling indigenous populations than on preserving them as laborers, consumers, or objects of study, conversion, and civilization. The colonies founded or consolidated in the 19th and 20th centuries that were exceptions to this rule included German Southwest Africa; French Algeria; British Kenya, Rhodesia, and Palestine; and Portuguese Angola and Mozambique. European violence against native inhabitants continued to be more severe in these modern settler colonies than in nonsettler colonies; decolonization was more violent. The colonies created in the modern era also tended to be “proconsular despotisms” (Bayly 1989) in which appointed Governors (or “proconsuls”), together with provincial and district officials and increasingly powerful imperial navies and armies, ruled over the colonized and white settlers alike. Settlers had limited opportunities to serve on advisory committees that provided consul to colonial rulers, but were excluded from real political representation in the colonial state. There were three exceptions to this rule: at the local levels or inside the native states; in the period after 1945, when imperial rulers pushed for political development in an attempt to hold on to their colonies; and in the settler colonies, mentioned above.

                                                                                                  • Bayly, C. A. 1989. Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World. London: Longman.

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                                                                                                    This book is focused on the hinge period between the Early Modern and Modern European empires –roughly 1790 to 1820. It examines the rise and fall of the “Second British Empire,” located mainly in Asia and the Middle East. The aggressive “revivified conservative régime at home” in Britain was reflected in the militarized “proconsular despotism” of the new colonies (p. 191). The colonies established in Africa in the 1880s and the Middle East after WWI were “the slowly matured consequences” of policies from this period (p. 100).

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                                                                                                    • Elliott, John Huxtable. 2006. Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                      A powerful comparative and transnational history of the Early Modern British and Spanish empires in America in which the Western Hemisphere is treated as a connected whole. The book moves from the invasions of America to the imperial crisis between 1773 and 1783, and culminates in wars of independence across the hemisphere.

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                                                                                                      Settler Colonialism

                                                                                                      Ancient colonies were often used “as a deposit for the human detritus of the metropolis” (Pagden 1995, p. 67), and European colonies continued to be used as dumping grounds for excesss Europeans. During the Age of Discoveries it was Spain that initially pursued “extensive occupation” of overseas colonies due to its history of internal conquest in the Reconquista (Pagden 1995, p. 73). Britain and France focused more on exploitation and trade in North America; in 1627 there were only 107 French settlers in Canada (Pagden 1995, p. 80). Eventually, however, British colonies in North America, southern and central Africa, Ireland, and the Pacific came to constitute the majority of the global colonial settler population. Other settler colonies included French Algeria, British Kenya, and British Palestine. European settlement was rare in the rest of the Middle East, colonial Africa between the Sahara and the Southern Cone, southern and Southeast Asia, and the far East and Pacific colonies. What is a settler colony? First and foremost, it is one in which settlers outnumber Europeans present in the colony for temporary postings (see Basic Definitions: Colonies and Colonialism). However, settlers do not necessarily outnumber natives in settler colonies. Indeed, this was never the case in any of the African settler colonies. Settler colonialism involves the “replacement of the indigenous population by a new one, or at least the subordination of the former by the latter,” and the denial of “any form of representation or control over governance to that indigenous population” (Khalidi 2006, p. 40). Settler colonies are places where indigenous societies are placed under immense pressure, marginalized, excluded, or massacred, due to the zero-sum nature of competition for land and other resources. Nineteenth-century colonial missionaries recognized that settler colonies tended to be more violent than other colonies (Steinmetz 2007, p. 21, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). Later theorists have agreed that the question of land and natural resources is of primary importance. Settlers often imagine the space they are colonizing as terra nullius, as a “Raum ohne Volk” (space without people) for a Volk ohne Land (people without land). Natives are regularly described as rootless, shiftless, nomadic wanderers. Settler colonialism is closely connected to the possibility of genocide (Moses 2008). The first genocide of the 20th century took place in German Southwest Africa, a settler colony—although it was the German colonial military rather than the settlers who precipitated the war that led to the genocide (Steinmetz 2007, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). According to Wolfe 2006 (p. 392), the “murderous activities of the frontier rabble” constitute the colonial state’s “principal means of expansion.” Settler colonialism is inherently “eliminationist,” even if it is “not invariably genocidal” (Wolfe 2006, p. 387). Eliminationism as defined here means breaking down indigenous society and culture through assimilation, expulsion, or the creation of reservations and by seizing native land.

                                                                                                      • Khalidi, Rashid. 2006. The iron cage: The story of the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Boston: Beacon.

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                                                                                                        Historian Khalidi details the colonial aspects of British and Israeli relations to the indigenous Arabs. Palestine became a League of Nations mandate colony after World War I and was governed by the British Colonial Office. Unlike Arabs in the other “Class A” mandates and in contrast to Zionist settlers, Palestinians were not allowed to develop institutionalized forms of representation in this period. The colonial relationship shifted into a new register in 1948 with the dispossession of Arabs’ property and the expulsion of all but a small percentage of the indigenous population.

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                                                                                                        • Moses, A. Dirk, ed. 2008. Empire, colony, genocide: Conquest, occupation, and subaltern resistance in world history. New York: Berghahn.

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                                                                                                          An excellent collection focused on settler colonialism and genocide and the linkages between the two phenomena. The editor’s introduction is a useful guide to concepts and terminology.

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                                                                                                          • Pagden, Anthony. 1995. Lords of all the world: Ideologies of empire in Spain, Britain and France c. 1500–c. 1800. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                            The author compares Early Modern Spanish, British, and French theories of empire and their relationship to imperial practice in the New World. He focuses on theories of (1) the Roman precedent; (2) the legal basis for conquest and settlement; (3) imperial expansion, preservation, and dissolution; (4) relations between metropolis and colony; (5) the calculation of benefits; and (6) the transition from empire to federation.

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                                                                                                            • Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native. Journal of Genocide Research 8.4: 387–409.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/14623520601056240Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              A theorist and historian of settler colonialism explores the “eliminationist” impetus of settler colonialism, arguing that it sometimes, though not always, becomes genocidal.

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                                                                                                              Settler Interests and Colonial Policies

                                                                                                              Settler interests are not always involved in the colonial state’s policymaking and indeed may be entirely excluded from it (“Early Modern” versus “Modern” Colonialism). Cases like South Africa and French Algeria suggest that settler interests tend to become dominant once settlers’ control over the colonial economy reaches a certain threshold. The American Revolution suggests that when their interests are repeatedly frustrated settlers will try to overthrow the metropolitan overlord. A historical and comparative perspective paints a more complex picture. The very possibility of settlement is determined by metropolitan decisions and by officials in charge of a given colony. After annexation of Samoa in 1900, the German colonial state immediately began to counter settler interests and to discourage further settlement, promoting indigenous small-scale production and land ownership instead (Steinmetz 2007, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). A British Royal Proclamation in 1763 prohibited settlement west of the Appalachians by British colonists. In the wake of the 1904–1907 war in German Southwest Africa, for example, the colonial state seemed initially to encourage settlement and to privilege settler interests, leading to a rapid increase in their numbers. Once diamonds were discovered in 1908, however, government policy began to tilt toward investors rather than settlers. Even where settlers outnumber other colonizers they are not necessarily politically preponderant. As Elkins and Pedersen 2005 (p. 5) note, there is great variability in the extent to which settler interests were incorporated into ongoing policymaking in colonies. In some cases however settlers shaped ongoing policy decisively. In 20th century colonial Kenya, for example, British governors followed the interests of the 60,000 white settlers, thwarting repeated Colonial Office efforts to guarantee African paramountcy over land. Settler political influence takes direct and indirect forms. In the former, settlers participate in elections and hold government office. In the latter, colonial offices and their metropolitan appointees still make policy while privileging settler interests. When colonies gain independence from their former metropoles, settler interests are typically dominant (Veracini 2010).

                                                                                                              • Elkins, Caroline, and Susan Pedersen, eds. 2005. Settler colonialism in the twentieth century: Projects, practices, legacies. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                An important collection of essays covering a wide variety of cases of settler colonialism, including Japanese in Korea and Manchukuo, Portuguese in Mozambique, Germans in Nazi-occupied Poland, French in Algeria, and Jews in British Palestine.

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                                                                                                                • Veracini, Lorenzo. 2010. Settler colonialism: A theoretical overview. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1057/9780230299191Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  This book by the editor of the journal Settler Colonial Studies (2011–) argues that settler colonialism is a distinct type of society. The final chapters deal with the question of what decolonization could mean in settler colonial societies where the settlers have not left.

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                                                                                                                  Internal Colonialism

                                                                                                                  Internal colonialism is a situation in which an indigenous population is politically dominated by representatives of a more recently arrived group. Domination is exercised through an independent, fully sovereign state that is institutionally derived from a former colonial state. Modern states are usually understood as seeking to promote national homogeneity in terms of rights and identifications. This expansion of rights and national identities sometimes excludes indigenous populations, however, who then constitute internal colonies. In most of the states of the Western Hemisphere there are native populations who are treated unequally in law and administration and in terms of the basic distribution of land and resources. Mexican sociologist Gonzalez Casanova, who introduced the phrase “internal colonialism,” noted that the domination of Indians by Spaniards was replaced after decolonization by domination of Indians by “creoles” (Gonzalez Casanova 1965, p. 27). The key contemporary cases of internal colonialism are located in the Americas from Argentina to Canada; in Australia and New Zealand; and in Israel. Historians have also applied the concept to settler states in the British Commonwealth like South Africa between 1910 and the 1990s. Internal colonialism always exists in a context of settler colonialism, but settler colonies do not always contain internal colonies. This is because some settler colonies assimilate, expel, or annihilate their indigenous populations, which renders the question of the internal colony moot. Furthermore, it is only in settler colonies that have evolved into sovereign states in which it makes sense to speak of “internal” colonialism, rather than colonialism tout court. The distinction hinges on whether the state with ultimate sovereignty over the indigenous territory is independent or is itself subject to a distant metropole. The concept of internal colonialism also only makes sense in modern nationalizing states, where citizenship and democratic rights are being extended to populations construed as homogenous. It is in these conditions that entrenched, state-backed inequalities between national and indigenous populations come to seem especially illegitimate. This is probably why the label internal colonialism was used to describe the condition of African Americans in the Southern US “Black Belt.” Even if blacks were not indigenous to the United States, their situation seemed analogous to indigenous societies in settler colonies. They were spatially concentrated in an agrarian region, due to the history of colonial slavery, and they were racially oppressed by a (local) state, subject to a racial “rule of difference,” while at the same “universal” rights were being offered to white citizens. By the same token, the combination of spatial concentration and official racial oppression led some to describe American inner cities as internal colonies. The label “internal colonialism” seems less appropriate in older historical contexts where the vast majority of the metropolitan population even in the core is treated unequally. It makes less sense to describe mediaeval Languedoc or Wales as internal colonies of France and England than to describe them as having been conquered and incorporated into the two larger states (see Given 1990, cited under State in the Context of Empire Studies).

                                                                                                                  • Gonzalez Casanova, Pablo. 1965. Internal colonialism and national development. Studies in Comparative International Development 1.4: 27–37.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/BF02800542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Gonzalez Casanova is a Mexican sociologist specializing in indigenous peoples. In this classic article, he coined the phrase “internal colonialism,” which is often incorrectly attributed to Gramsci or Lenin. Gonzalez Casanova and Mexican sociologist Rodolfo Stavenhagen argued that internal colonialism was distinct from class relations since it involved the oppression of an entire people by another, but that unlike colonialism per se, internal colonialism could be applied to an independent country like Mexico.

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                                                                                                                    Internal Colonialism in South Africa, North America, and Israel/Palestine

                                                                                                                    Three cases that have been extensively analyzes as internal colonies are apartheid-era South Africa, United States policy toward Native Americans, and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The history of South Africa between the first landing by the Dutch East India Company (DEIC) at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and national independence illustrates a trajectory from colonialism stricto sensu in the first few decades, to settler colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, and finally to internal colonialism staring around 1910 (with decolonization occurring in the 1990s). During the two centuries after 1652 more and more land was annexed by settlers, starting with retired DEIC soldiers and workers. The Cape became a settler colony. South Africa became increasingly independent from the United Kingdom starting in 1910, but “power was transferred not into the hands of the masses of the people of South Africa, but into the hands of the White minority alone” (Wolpe 1975, p. 231). The colonial treatment of Africans continued and even intensified under apartheid. This colonialism was now the “internal” affair of a sovereign nation. Native Americans in the post-independence United States have also been subject to internal colonialism. As U.S. Chief Justice Marshall argued in 1831, “Indian nations had always been considered as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil, from time immemorial, with the single exception imposed by irresistible power . . .” (quoted in Deloria and Lytle 1984, p. 17). Indigenous “independent political communities” were henceforth fated to exist inside the national borders of an expanding “irresistible power.” Government treatment of Indians evolved from forcible removal and relocation to the development of reservations. The Dawes Act of 1871 and the Allotment Act of 1897 were intended to end the reservation system by selling off tribal land to settlers and developers. Indians lost over 60 percent of their remaining land between 1887 and 1934 (White 1991, p. 115, cited under Modern Territorial, Land-Based Empires). Aggressive policies of Indian “termination” continued this project of eliminationism in the 1950s. The 1960s saw a shift back toward policies of self-determination, but the assault of Indian land and property continued apace, leading Snipp 1986 to apply the concept “internal colonialism” to the most recent period. Palestine and Israel represent a third example of internal colonialism. Arab intellectuals from Nasser on have almost considered Israel a “colonialist phenomenon,” an “imperialist base set up in the Middle East by British imperialism.” In contrast, “pro-Israeli writers” have depicted Israel as emerging from socialism and anti-imperialism and as purchasing land rather than plundering it—land that was considered to be “uncultivated,” “desolate,” and “sparsely inhabited” (Rodinson 1973, pp. 27–31, 51). British officials and Jewish settlers treated Palestinians as primitives subject to colonial native policy (Khalidi 2006, cited under Settler Colonialism). After the creation of Israel, the minority of Palestinians who were not driven out of the country became an internal colony, discriminated against in legal and administrative terms. At the limit they have been granted the status of “citizens,” but not the higher status and rights of “nationals” (White 2012). The Israeli state’s ongoing efforts to conquer land inside the green line, especially in the Negev and Galilee, has an explicitly colonial character (White 2012).

                                                                                                                    • Deloria, Vine, and Clifford M. Lytle. 1984. The nations within: The past and future of American Indian sovereignty. New York: Pantheon.

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                                                                                                                      Native American historian and activist Vine Deloria wrote twenty books and edited many others. Here he and his coauthor analyze American Indians’ struggles for self-government and self-determination from the 1830s to the present.

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                                                                                                                      • Rodinson, Maxime. 1973. Israel: A colonial-settler state? New York: Monad.

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                                                                                                                        Rodinson was a French sociologist and Orientalist who taught at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. This text is Rodinson’s contribution to a famous special issue of Les Temps Modernes on the Israeli-Arab conflict, published immediately in the wake of the 1967 war. Rodinson pointed out that critics of the idea of Israel as colonial focused on debunking the Leninist definition of imperialism as economic exploitation, whereas the more appropriate comparison is to expansionist “European imperialist policies” (p. 44) in general, including settlement.

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                                                                                                                        • Snipp, C. Matthew. 1986. The changing political and economic status of the American Indians: From captive nations to internal colonies. American Journal of Economics and Sociology 45.2 (April 1986): 145–157.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1536-7150.1986.tb01915.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Native American sociologist Matthew Snipp focuses on resource extraction and expropriations of native land and resources in the contemporary American West, underscoring a profound continuity in settler colonial dynamics over more than two centuries. Internal colonies “are created when one area dominates another to the extent that it channels the flow of resources from the periphery to the dominant core area,” with a focus on “extractive or agricultural production that serves the development of the core area, especially by providing raw materials” (p. 150).

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                                                                                                                          • White, Ben. 2012. Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, discrimination and democracy. London: Pluto.

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                                                                                                                            White argues for focusing on Israeli colonialism not in the occupied territories but inside the green line, especially in the Negev and Galilee. The author discusses the work of revisionist Israeli historians such as Gershon Shafir, Ilan Pappé, and Tom Segev.

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                                                                                                                            • Wolpe, Harold. 1975. The theory of internal colonialism: The South African case. In Beyond the sociology of development. Edited by I. Oxhaal, Tony Barnett, and David Booth, 229–252. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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                                                                                                                              Harold Wolpe was a South African communist, anti-apartheid activist, and lawyer who fled prison and moved to Britain in the early 1960s, where he became a leading sociological specialist in race and colonialism. In addition to popularizing the neo-Althusserian theory of the articulation of modes of production (see Marx, Hobson and Neo-Marxist Approaches), Wolpe used the concept of internal colonialism to understand 20th-century South Africa.

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                                                                                                                              Informal, Non-territorial Empires

                                                                                                                              The 19th and 20th century saw the emergence of informal imperialism, defined as international influence exercised through military and economic means, but without the long-term takeover of sovereignty by foreign invaders (hence “non-territorial”), and without the legal imposition of a racial rule of difference that typifies modern colonialism. Informal imperialism is more systematic and powerful than “hegemony” or “influence,” even if the boundaries between these concepts are fluid. The most influential project for informal German imperialism in central Europe was elaborated by National Liberal politician Friedrich Naumann (Naumann 1964). According to Naumann, the peripheral states in the Mitteleuropa system would have “their own life, their own summers and winters, their own culture, worries and glories,” but would reinforce the will of the leading state, Germany. These ideas were picked up by Carl Schmitt, who based his concepts of an imperial “Greater Space” or “Nomos” on the American Monroe Doctrine, which he understood as a system for imposing US interests on the states of the Western Hemisphere without annexing them (see State in the Context of Empire Studies). US foreign policy dominance or primacy is also sometimes described as a form of non-territorial empire, grounded in outposts rather than colonies (Steinmetz 2005, cited under Basic Definitions: The State). Johnson (Johnson 2004, p. 151) describes American power as being grounded in a globe-spanning military “empire of bases,” with more than 700 bases in 2003, “not counting a number of ʻtemporaryʼ installations” (Darwin 2008, p. 483, cited under Basic Definitions: Empire).

                                                                                                                              • Johnson, Chalmers A. 2004. The sorrows of empire. New York: Metropolitan.

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                                                                                                                                Historian Johnson spent the last decade of his life analyzing the American empire and arguing, like Hobson a century earlier, that imperialism was antithetical to democracy. US imperialism entails, above, all, “unilateralism in decision making” (p. 73) and the use of the military as a means of implementing policy. In contrast to earlier colonialism, this is “solely an empire of bases, not of territories” (pp. 1, 188). Imperialism need not be in the service of capitalism, and it may even undermine profits and growth (pp. 31, 122).

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                                                                                                                                • Naumann, Friedrich. 1964. Mitteleuropa. In Werke. Vol. 4. Edited by Theodor Schieder. Cologne and Opladen, Germany: Westdeutscher Verlag.

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                                                                                                                                  This wartime essay was written by a leading German liberal politician. Naumann argued for a “liberal” version of imperialism in which Germany would dominate the states and economies of central eastern Europe through indirect pressure and influence rather than conquest and direct rule. Naumann’s liberal imperialism was embraced by Max and Alfred Weber before and during World War I. Originally published in 1915.

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                                                                                                                                  Theoretical Approaches to the Origins, Development, Effects, and Aftermaths of Empire

                                                                                                                                  The section Imperial Strategies and Configurations suggests that empires are complex formations that combine different types of imperial practice. By the same token, theories of empire also need to be combined in order to shed light even on a single imperial event. Post-1945 decolonization, for example, was driven by innumerable factors located in the metropoles and peripheries and in properties of the internal relations system; it was triggered by highly contingent events like the Japanese occupation of European colonies in East Asia or Labour’s victory in the UK general election in 1945. The uniqueness and overdetermination of historical events does not render social theory irrelevant, but it underscores the difference between causal mechanisms and the events they are mobilized to explain. This section presents the leading theoretical accounts of various aspects of empire. Each theory or theoretical cluster focuses on a particular explanatory structure or causal mechanism.

                                                                                                                                  Marx

                                                                                                                                  Karl Marx’s writing offers an account of the sources of European global expansion and the effects of colonial rule on the colonies. Capital accumulation, for Marx, represented an inherently expansive process that led to the “entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and with this, the growth of the international character of the capitalist regime” (Marx 1976, p. 929). In the final chapters of the first volume of Capital, Marx connected the processes of primitive accumulation occurring at the “dawn of the era of capitalist production” to “the discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of that continent, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of blackskins.” These “idyllic proceedings,” according to Marx, were “the chief moments” of primitive accumulation. The colonial system spurred the concentration of capital, as the “treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting, enslavement, and murder flowed back to the mother-country and were turned into capital there.” In chapter 33 of Capital, entitled “The Modern Theory of Colonisation,” Marx adumbrates a theory of the peculiarities of settler colonialism, focusing on the role of the “open frontier” in the United States. Proletarians who immigrate to colonies are able to become independent producers and resist their own (re)proletarianization. The fact that the “bulk of the soil” in a “free colony” is “still public property” (because it has been expropriated en bloc from its indigenous owners) means that “every settler” can “turn part of it into his private property and his individual means of production, without preventing later settlers from performing the same operation.” This, Marx concludes, “is the secret both of the prosperity of the colonies and of their cancerous affliction—their resistance to the establishment of capital”—the “anti-capitalistic cancer of the colonies” (Marx 1976, pp. 934, 938). Marx saw British colonies in South Asia as sites for enhanced rates of exploitation and profit (Marx 1969, pp. 150–151). Although Marx condemned British rule in India as despotic, barbaric, and criminal, England was at the same time “the unconscious tool of history,” unifying the Indian state and revolutionizing its moribund economy and society. Marx’s vision of colonialism as compelling at least the non-settler colonies to enter capitalist modernity was rejected by most liberal and left-wing analysts in the 20th century.

                                                                                                                                  • Marx, Karl. 1969. Karl Marx on colonialism and modernization. Edited by Schlomo Avineri. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

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                                                                                                                                    The most complete collection of Marx’s articles and letters on colonialism and imperialism in India and elsewhere. These essays show that Marx was not the unabashed supporter of imperialism he is sometimes made out to be.

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                                                                                                                                    • Marx, Karl. 1976. Capital: A critique of political economy. Vol. 1–3. New York: Penguin.

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                                                                                                                                      Through not explicitly a treatment of empire, colonies, or the state, Marx’s famous analysis of capitalism and its legitimatory ideologies contains several important discussions of these topics and of the globalizing impetus of capitalism.

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                                                                                                                                      Hobson and Neo-Marxist Approaches

                                                                                                                                      Although Hobson was no Marxist, his influential book contributed to the redefinition of “imperialism” as an economic phenomenon linked to a phase of capitalism dominated by financial capital and plagued by a crisis of overaccumulation. Less familiar is the argument in the book’s second part that “autocratic government in imperial politics naturally reacts upon domestic government” (Hobson 1965, pp. 146–147). This theory of imperial blowback was echoed by other liberal anti-imperialists at the time, including Leonard Hobhouse, and it anticipated more recent discussions by Hannah Arendt and theorists of the backflow of US empire (Johnson 2004, cited under Informal, Non-territorial Empires). Other 20th-century Marxists, including Lenin, Luxemburg, Hilferding, and Bukharin (Brewer 1990) elaborated this theory of imperialism as a phenomenon or period of capitalism. A few followed Marx in arguing that countries subjected to imperialism tend to develop more rapidly (Warren 1980). Most 20th-century Marxists disagreed with this, emphasizing imperialism’s deleterious impact on the colonies and peripheries. This was analyzed as the “development of underdevelopment,” the production of economic “dependency,” and as “unequal exchange” (see Economic Sociology). Historians like Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch and anthropologists like Pierre-Philippe Rey developed an alternative model of the articulation of modes of production, based on the ideas of Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. Colonial states preserved pre-capitalist modes of production in the countryside and connected (“articulated”) this sector with the capitalist sector through seasonal migration. This allowed colonial capitalism to lower the costs of the reproduction of labor power and strengthened the power of the state and capital over labor. World-system theory described a global periphery condemned to produce raw materials for processing in the core (see World-Systems Analysis). Originally an Africanist, Wallerstein sought to explain the capitalist core’s movement away from slavery in the 19th century and the repeated waves of colonialism and decolonization. He was also intrigued by the failure of postcolonial African development. Gutkind and Wallerstein 1976 argues that hegemonic states enforce free trade and eschew protectionism and colonialism. In non-hegemonic periods the core splinters into rivals, each of which claims chunks of the global periphery with which they set up exclusive, protected relations of trade and resource extraction. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri defined “Empire” as a new global form of sovereignty “composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under single logic of rule” (Hardt and Negri 2000, p. xii). Empire is no longer, in their view, centered on a conquest state, but it is still restlessly expansive, tending to encompass the whole world. Imperialism, the form of rule that preceded empire in their schema, was centered on nation-states and the extension of sovereignty; empire is decentered and deterritorializing. David Harvey (Harvey 2003) argues that capitalism repeatedly engages in new rounds of primitive accumulation, which he calls “accumulation by dispossession” in order to break with the idea that this was a historical moment that is never repeated. Harvey distinguishes between territorial and capitalist power logics, acknowledging that imperial invasions often “inhibit as often as they enhance the fortunes of capital” (p. 30). He concludes that traditional left-wing support for expanded accumulation or rising standards of living should make common cause with struggles against colonial dispossession.

                                                                                                                                      • Brewer, Anthony. 1990. Marxist theories of imperialism: A critical survey. 2d ed. London: Routledge.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.4324/9780203003817Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        A comprehensive survey of Marxist and neo-Marxist theories of imperialism, starting with Marx. The author discusses Luxemburg, Hilferding, Bukharin, Lenin, Baran, Frank, Wallerstein, Dependency Theory, Rey, Arrighi, Emanuel, and Amin, and concludes with the “modes of production” debate.

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                                                                                                                                        • Gutkind, Peter, and Immanuel Wallerstein, eds. 1976. Political economy of contemporary Africa. Vol. I. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                          A collection of essays by the creator of world-system theory exploring the reasons for the rise of colonial slavery and its abolition, Europe’s pivot from the West Indies to Africa as the locus of capitalist overseas production in the 19th century, and Africa’s postcolonial dilemmas.

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                                                                                                                                          • Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                            The first section traces the historical emergence of the “juridical structure” of the new, imperial form of sovereignty. The second section narrates the prehistory of empire from the standpoint of “production.” The central agent in transitions from one form of sovereignty or production to the next is called “the multitude” (as opposed to “the people” or “the working class”). The authors underestimate the continuing preponderance of political empires and states and revert to traditional Marxism by reasserting “production” as the foundation for politics.

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                                                                                                                                            • Harvey, David. 2003. The new imperialism. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                              The most original Marxist analysis of imperialism in decades. Rather than seeing primitive accumulation as an archaic precursor to capitalist accumulation, Harvey argues that capitalism is characterized by repeated episodes of “accumulation by dispossession” in which assets are attained at minimal cost through privatization, military occupation, and other coercive means. The new American imperialism cannot be reduced to the machinations of oil companies but is connected to larger geopolitical and geo-economic strategies.

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                                                                                                                                              • Hobson, J. A. 1965. Imperialism: A study. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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                                                                                                                                                For Hobson, imperialism is driven by capital’s search for new markets and investment outlets and a repudiation of free trade. Imperialism did not benefit capitalism as a whole but only sectional interests, particularly finance capital. Imperialism could be eliminated, he argues, by redistributing wealth domestically and raising consumption levels. The book’s second half deals with empire’s disastrous impact on the colonies and its erosion of democracy in the metropole. Originally published in 1902.

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                                                                                                                                                • Warren, Bill. 1980. Imperialism, pioneer of capitalism. Edited by John Sender. London: New Left.

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                                                                                                                                                  Warren reasserts the supposedly Marxist argument that imperialism contributes to economic development in the peripheries. The book criticizes the claims that the Third World was economically stagnant throughout the post-1945 period and that “foreign direct investment” was damaging to these regions. The analysis does not actually address the impact of formal colonialism, however, and it ignores the long-term effects of empire on postcolonial politics.

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                                                                                                                                                  Bellicist Theories of Empire

                                                                                                                                                  Another major theoretical approach understands empires as driven by geopolitical and military factors. Ludwig Gumplowicz argued that warfare was the “compelling” force in human history and domination (Herrschaft) “the pivot of all events in the historical process” (Gumplowicz 1883, pp. 194, 218). The culmination of processes of “almost uninterrupted warfare” was the creation of states and larger empires (Gumplowicz 1883, p. 176). Friedrich Ratzel grounded his analysis in a supposed general “natural” law reminiscent of Gumplowicz’s, arguing that all Völker are driven by the drive to expand and conquer. This tendency is strengthened, not weakened, in modernity: “the more nations become conscious of global spatial relations, the more they engage in the struggle for space” (Ratzel 1923, p. 266, cited under Colonies and Colonial Empires). Along similar lines, Joseph Schumpeter defined imperialism as the “objectless disposition on the part of a state to unlimited forcible expansion” (Schumpeter 1951, p. 6). Max Weber combined Schumpeter’s emphasis on the archaic status elements of modern imperialism with arguments for empire’s irreducibly geopolitical and military sources. Weber also saw imperialism as a partially capitalist phenomenon. More recently, sociologists Charles Tilly (Tilly 1992, cited under State in the Context of Empire Studies) and Michael Mann (Mann 1986–2012, cited under Basic Definitions: Empire) have argued that states are driven to expand through warfare in a process that is limited only by resource constraints and the countervailing forces of other states pursing the same goals.

                                                                                                                                                  • Gumplowicz, Ludwig. 1883. Der Rassenkampf: Sociologische Untersuchungen. Innsbruck, Austria: Wagner’sche Universitäts-Buchhandlung.

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                                                                                                                                                    Gumplowicz, a founding Austrian sociologist originally from Russian Poland, was influenced by Darwinism but quickly adopted a nonbiological view of the social. He argued that society was “an aggregate of groups continuously struggling against each other since time immemorial” and described human history as an eternal “race struggle” (Rassenkampf), but he understood race as a “social product, the result of social development,” and not as something biological (p. 194).

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                                                                                                                                                    • Schumpeter, Joseph Alois. 1951. Imperialism and social classes. New York: A. M. Kelley.

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                                                                                                                                                      Schumpeter traces imperialism to the atavistic drives of the declining aristocratic ruling class and to appeals to deeper “instincts that carry over from the life habits of the dim past,” especially the “instinctive urge to domination” (pp. 7, 12). Imperialism is thus “best illustrated by examples from antiquity” (p. 23). Against the Marxists, Schumpeter insists that imperialism could “never been have evolved by the ‘inner logic’ of capitalism itself” (pp. 96–97).

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                                                                                                                                                      Collaboration, Rebellion, and Anticolonial Resistance

                                                                                                                                                      The determinants of empire, according to the Marxist, Hobsonian, geopolitical, and bellicist theories, are situated mainly in the metropole. In contrast to these “metro-centric” approaches, other analysts focus on resistance and collaboration among the colonized as determinants of the shape and trajectory of empire. Nineteenth-century commentators already pointed to the “boomerang” impact of empire on metropolitan society. Marx himself speculated that “the next uprising of the people of Europe . . . may depend more probably on what is now passing in the Celestial Empire [China] . . . than on any other political cause that now exists” (Marx 1969, p. 67; cited under Marx). Hobson (Hobson 1965, cited under Hobson and Neo-Marxist Approaches) saw empire as eroding British democracy. Hanna Arendt argued that the racism, anti-statism, and deterritorialization of European colonies prefigured continental totalitarianism. Herbert Marcuse argued in the 1960s that opposition in the capitalist metropoles had to take its cues from Third World revolutionaries. Collaboration came to the fore as a periphery-centric causal factor in the Cambridge School of Indian historiography, which described colonialism as “British rule through Indian collaboration” (Guha 1997, p. 86). The “ex-centric” or peripheralist theory of colonialism developed by historians Ronald Robinson (Robinson 1986) and John Gallagher broadened this approach to account for all patterns of colonial rule, imperial domination, and decolonization worldwide. Resistance and rebellion by the colonized takes many forms, including simple “exit,” recalcitrance and foot-dragging “primary resistance,” nationalism, and violence. Long before postcolonial theory awakened interest in cultural hybridity, sociologists have studied symbolic appropriations of colonial culture by the colonized. In 1902, French Sociologist Maurice Leenhardt analyzed the messianic “Ethiopian” church movement in Southern Africa as an African version of Christianity (Leenhardt 1976). Peter Worsley argued that cargo cults were often symbolic rejections of colonialism (Worsley 1957). There has always been some opposition to colonialism and empire among Europeans in the core, but this sentiment became more widespread during the 20th century (Howe 1993, cited under Decolonization and Imperial Decline). Nonetheless, as Memmi 1991 (cited under Colonizer-Colonized Relation) argued, most Europeans found it impossible to actively engage in anticolonial struggles. Fanon 2004 (cited under Postcolonial Theory) emphasized militant resistance.

                                                                                                                                                      • Guha, Ranajit. 1997. Dominance without hegemony: History and power in colonial India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                        Along with his other monographs and his editorship of Subaltern Studies (1982–2005), historian Guha wrote this book-length essay whose topics include the colonial state, the split between subaltern and elite political domains, and the failure of the Indian bourgeoisie to mobilize the masses and to construct a nationalist project and an Indian-centered historiography.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Leenhardt, Maurice. 1976. Le mouvement éthiopien au sud de l’Afrique de 1896 à 1899. Paris: Académie des sciences dʼoutre-mer.

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                                                                                                                                                          Originally published in 1902. This book, Leenhardt’s bachelor’s thesis, studied the messianic “Ethiopian” church movement in southern Africa as a form of resistance against colonial oppression through selective appropriation of the colonizer’s religious culture. In 1902 sociologist Leenhardt moved to French New Caledonia to work as a Protestant missionary. In 1926 he returned to France, where he became a leading expert in Oceania, taught at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, and played a central role in mid-century French sociology and ethnology.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Robinson, Ronald. 1986. The excentric idea of imperialism, with or without empire. In Imperialism and after: Continuities and discontinuities. Edited by Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Jürgen Osterhammel, 267–289. London: Allen & Unwin.

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                                                                                                                                                            British imperial historian Robinson pioneered an “ex-centric” approach to imperial historiography that sees colonial rule as determined more by the periphery than the core. Any analysis of imperialism has to attend to peripheral bourgeoisies and the collaborative arrangements at the basis of ongoing relations between core and periphery. There are “as many types of imperialism” or colonial regimes as there are structures of collaboration, according to Robinson (p. 273).

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                                                                                                                                                            • Worsley, Peter. 1957. The trumpet shall sound: A study of “cargo” cults in Melanesia. London: MacGibbon & Kee.

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                                                                                                                                                              Peter Worsley was trained as an anthropologist but worked as a sociologist for most of his life. He was the author of a widely used introductory sociology textbook and president of the British Sociological Association from 1971 to 1975. Worsley introduced the phrase “the Third World” into English and argued for reframing Wallestein’s question of world system around colonialism. Worsley argued that Melanesian cargo cults had a “radical, anti-White and even communistic flavour,” largely due to the European economic, social, and cultural intrusion (pp. 256, lvii), even while he also Acknowledged their connections to other millenarian movements and apocalyptic religions.

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                                                                                                                                                              Decolonization and Imperial Decline

                                                                                                                                                              Decolonization and imperial decline have not received the same level of theoretical attention as the acquisition and growth of colonies and empires. As a result, there are “very few candidates for a theory of decolonization” (Howe 1993, p. 3). It is still possible to identify several strands of theory in this area. The first sees nationalist independence movements and other forms of resistance as the gravediggers of empire (Demandt 1997, p. 224). Other theories emphasize metro-centric factors: great power dynamics (warfare, mimesis among empires, inter-imperial rivalry); the postwar decline in European economies or imperial overstretch; or ideological shifts within government or wider public circles. One of the very few systematic models of decolonization is offered by world-system theory (see Gutkind and Wallerstein 1976, cited under Hobson and Neo-Marxist Approaches). Waves of colonial annexation are said to occur when the global core lacks a hegemon. Periods in which there is a hegemonic power are dominated by free trade, and decolonization ensues. There are several problems with this model. (1) Colonies have been annexed during hegemonic periods (e.g. India, Algeria). (2) It is difficult to pinpoint the mechanisms translating core hegemony into declonization. In the most recent decolonization wave, US hegemony emerged long before the US started calling for an end to European colonial rule, and the Americans’ case-by-case stance on independence for specific colonies was usually determined by geopolitical considerations. The Portuguese empire remained intact until 1974, that is, until the moment when US hegemony started to collapse, according to world-system theory. (4) World-system theory, like most of the other literature on decolonization, cannot account for the perpetuation of settler colonialism and internal colonies across hegemonic cycles (see Internal Colonialism) is absent from most of. As Veracini 2010, cited under Settler Interests and Colonial Policies, argues, the question of the decolonization of settler colonies, especially internal colonies, has only started to be properly posed. Theories of the decline of land empires are even more diffuse than theories of decolonization. Historians have offered more than two hundred reasons for Rome’s demise. Ancient authors saw imperial wealth leading to luxury, decadence, and weakness. Ancient empires were said to have been toppled by invasions by “comparatively barbaric but militarily superior peoples” (Demandt 1997, p. 225.). Eisenstadt (1967, pp. 2–4) explored the common features among declining empires. The fourth volume of Mann 1986–2012, cited under Basic Definitions: Empire, deals with 20th-century decolonization and the decline of the American empire.

                                                                                                                                                              • Demandt, Alexander. 1997. Die Weltreiche in der Geschichte. In Das Ende der Weltreiche: Vom Persern bis zur Sowjetunion. Edited by Alexander Demandt, 211–233. Munich: C. H. Beck.

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                                                                                                                                                                Roman historian Demandt surveys the literature on the decline of empires, ancient and modern, Western and non-Western, in this volume consisting of essays on the Akkadian, Roman, Byzantine, Spanish, Austrian, Ottoman, Japanese, British, and Soviet empires.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Eisenstadt, S. N., ed. 1967. The decline of empires. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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                                                                                                                                                                  In “The Political Systems of Empires” Eisenstadt examined the conditions leading to empires’ stability; this volume deals with the question of decline. Accounts of the decline of premodern land empires have several factors in common, he argues, including expansion of the bureaucracy and rentier class, decline of commerce or of areas under cultivation, and a breakdown of political alliances between rulers and sectors of the traditional elites

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Howe, Stephen. 1993. Anticolonialism in British politics: The left and the end of empire, 1918–1964. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                                                                                                                                                                    A conceptually subtle and highly original study of 20th-century British radical anticolonialism—on the left wing of the Labour Party and in the Communist Party and other groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                    The Subaltern School of History

                                                                                                                                                                    The subaltern school of historiography, founded by Ranajit Guha (Guha 1999), emphasizes a colony-centric approach to empire but rejects the Cambridge school’s focus on native elites and their so-called collaborative practices. Instead, the subaltern school emphasizes the subjectivity and action of the subaltern, a category derived from the writings of Antonio Gramsci that refers here to a subordinated social locations defined by class, ethnicity, race, caste, gender, language, etc. Deployment of the category of subalternity in South Asian historiography underscored relations of hierarchical difference among the colonized, specifically between Indian elites and the rest of the rest of the population. Since the subaltern are rarely represented in their own voices within archival sources, Guha reconstructs their subjectivity by attending to the silences and interstices of elite and colonial sources. Guha criticizes economic approaches, including Marxist ones that ignore culture and subjectivity. He rejects interpretations of the masses as “pre-political” and passive and as being drawn into the independence movement by Indian elites. Colonialism was largely a system of “dominance without hegemony” (Guha 1997, cited under Collaboration, Rebellion, and Anticolonial Resistance) based on coercion. Like Chatterjee 1993 (cited under Colonizer-Colonized Relation), Guha sees the colonial state as fundamentally different from the metropolitan state: it is non-universalistic, organized around a “rule of colonial difference.” Subaltern consciousness partially escapes the grasp of both the colonial state and native elites and provides unique political resources. Subaltern politics is more horizontal and violent than elite politics, rooted in kinship, religion, territoriality, or social class. The peasant movements analyzed by Guha were governed by negative forms of consciousness whose “purpose was not so much to reconstitute the world as to reverse it” (Guha 1999, p. 166). Signs of authority were systematically appropriated, inverted, and destroyed, for example in the “destruction of large quantities of written or printed material,” dramatic acts of religious desecration, and widespread practices of “wrecking, burning, eating, and looting,” as well as less widespread killing (Guha 1999; pp. 51, 73, 136, 160). By insisting on the autonomy of subaltern consciousness Guha opened the path to the more sweeping postcolonial critique of Western culture’s universal claims to analytic and political validity. Chakrabarty 2000 represents a bridge between Subaltern and Postcolonial Studies, with his argument that Europe and Western social theory is just another “provincial” culture that cannot claim universal validity outside its particular historical and geospatial coordinates.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2000. Provincializing Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Chakrabarty argues that Eurocentric narratives of modernity dominate history-writing, and by extension, social theory. The main components of this Eurocentric formation include progressive historical laws of processes such as “capital,” homogeneous concepts of time and analytical concepts into which all other histories are convertible, and a disenchanted world in which gods and spirits cannot be actors.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Guha, Ranajit. 1999. Elementary aspects of peasant insurgency in colonial India. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                        The foundational text of the Subaltern School of History, Guha’s analysis of peasant’s consciousness and forms of insurgency in India from 1783 to 1900. Guha first lays out his theoretical approach, which is drawn from Gramsci, Marx, social history, and social theorists like Bourdieu. The book then details the logics of negation prevalent in these movements and the ways in which they were public, collective, destructive, total, and antithetical to crime. Guha then describes the movements’ idioms of solidarity and their modes of transmission and territoriality.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Postcolonial Theory

                                                                                                                                                                        Postcolonial Theory emerged first in literary and cultural studies. At the most general level, postcolonialism “can be seen as a theoretical resistance to the mystifying amnesia of the colonial aftermath,” a “project devoted to the academic task of revisiting, remembering and, crucially, interrogating the colonial past.” There is general agreement here that “the colonial aftermath does not yield the end of colonialism” but that colonialism has lasting effects (Gandhi 1998, pp. 4, 7). There are two main emphases in the broad field of postcolonial studies. The first reexamines colonial relations with an emphasis on their cultural and psychic dimensions. A key forerunner of postcolonial theory is psychiatrist and anticolonial activist Frantz Fanon. In Fanon 1967, he details the forms of psychic damage resulting from colonial racism; in Fanon 2004 he calls upon the colonized to challenge the colonizer with “the impassioned claim that their world is fundamentally different” (p. 6). The colonized, who “have been prepared for violence from time immemorial,” can only challenge colonialism by redirecting the “aggressiveness sedimented in [their] muscles” against the colonizer (pp. 3, 15). Fanon’s psychoanalytically inspired remarks on the psychic instability of colonized subjects and the visual or scopic aspects of the colonial relationship were developed further by Homi Bhabha (see Bhabha 1994). Bhabha’s model of colonial mimicry is based on the Freudian model of the fetish as an object that simultaneously acknowledges and disavows difference. Mimicry is a colonial strategy deployed to contain and manage difference by positioning the colonized as comprehensible yet distinct from the colonizer. The intermediate identities Bhabha calls mimicry elude the colonizer’s control. Mid-20th-century sociologists and anthropologists explored similar processes using terms like acculturation, syncretism, and hybridity (Steinmetz 2013, pp. 29–33). Postcolonial theory also explores the imperial aspects of European culture. Said 1978 is a foundational text for this line of critique, arguing that European views of the “Orient” were homogenous, repetitive, and largely fictional but that they nonetheless provided the intellectual framework for the West’s takeover of the (real) Orient. Mitchell 1988 argues that Egypt engaged in self-colonization before formal colonialism. Their world was reconfigured according to a Western episteme in which the world became a “world picture”; this entailed a rationalist modernization of cities, landscapes, houses, armies, states, and subjectivities. Formal colonialism unnecessary for Oriental self-colonization. Postcolonial theorists also examine the flow of representations between colony and metropole, elaborating on Fanon’s claim (Fanon 2004, p. 58) that “Europe is literally the creation of the Third World.” They show that imperial ideas and images have permeated European and North American culture and have also flourished in European states lacking colonies, such as Weimar and West Germany (Steinmetz and Hell 2006) and Switzerland (Randeria 2012). Historians disagree on the extent to which metropolitan publics have been aware of their own empires, but postcolonial theorists counter that imperial culture is often a largely unconscious affair. It is the very invisibility of internal colonialism in the United States, for example, or of colonial tropes in high culture, that makes these objects of study so insidiously interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Bhabha, Homi. 1994. The location of culture. London and New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Bhabha deploys psychoanalytic concepts to deconstruct the ambivalences and contradictions of the colonial relation. His model of mimicry is based on the Freudian analysis of the fetish as an object that simultaneously acknowledges and disavows difference. Colonial power acknowledges and disavows the difference of the colonized Other, configured as being almost identical to the colonizer, but not quite.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Fanon, Frantz. 1967. Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Weidenfeld.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Fanon was born in Martinique, medically trained in France, and active in French Algeria. Written a decade before the end of French rule in Algeria, Black Skin, White Masks focuses on the lasting effects of colonialism’s corrosive racism on the psychic life of colonized people. Originally published in 1952.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Fanon, Frantz. 2004. The wretched of the earth. New York: Grove.

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                                                                                                                                                                              The Wretched of the Earth broadens the focus from symbolic to physical violence and urges the colonized to turn the colonizers’ violence back against their oppressors. Originally published in 1961.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Gandhi, Leela. 1998. Postcolonial theory: A critical introduction. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                The best overview of postcolonial studies, written by a leading literary critic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Mitchell, Timothy. 1988. Colonising Egypt. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Drawing inspiration from Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Pierre Bourdieu, and Martin Heidegger, Mitchell argues that a generic European modern consciousness was replicated in the self-modernization of 19th-century Egypt and other parts of the Near East.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Randeria, Shalini. 2012. Verflochtene Schweiz: Herausforderungen eines Postkolonialismus ohne Kolonien. In Postkoloniale Schweiz: Formen und Folgen eines Kolonialismus ohne Kolonien. Edited by Patricia Purtschert, Barbara Lüthi, and Francesca Falk, 7–12. Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Sociologist Shalini Randeria’s introduction to this volume on “postcolonial Switzerland” asks whether Fanon’s thesis that Europe is a product of its colonies can apply to this “land without colonial ambitions and geostrategic interests,” how participation in colonialism works in a non-colonial situation, and whether colonial ideas were paradoxically less subject to decolonization (p. 7).

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Vintage.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Orientalism is a foundational text in postcolonial theory’s critique of the West and its forms of knowledge. Said insists that Western representations of the Orient were relentlessly repetitive and inaccurate, and that European colonies were profoundly shaped by Orientalist “travelers’ tales” and scholarly tomes. In other works, Said examines the presence of the colonial margin in metropolitan high culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Steinmetz, George, ed. 2013. Sociology and empire: The imperial entanglements of a discipline. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        The introductory chapter surveys theoretical and empirical research on empires and colonies carried out by sociologists from the disciplinary pioneers to the present. Other essays trace the intellectual history of sociology as it pertains to empire, provide a theoretical basis for analyses of empire, and offer empirical studies of colonies and empires, past and present.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Steinmetz, George, and Julia Hell. 2006. The visual archive of colonialism: Germany and Namibia. Public Culture 18.1: 141–184.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          The authors trace the circulation of colonial racial images between Namibia (South-West Africa) and Germany from the 1840s to the 21st century, showing that Germany had a colonial culture without colonialism. This was as true of the period before Germany’s African colonial empire (1840s–1884) as it was of the colonial aftermath (1918–present). These images circulated through a pan-European space via high culture, mass culture, science, and commerce.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Bourdieusian Theory and Colonialism

                                                                                                                                                                                          The critical sociology of Pierre Bourdieu converges with certain key themes in postcolonial theory, including the self-reflexivity of the analyst and her refusal to take an elite (or doxic) standpoint; explicit criticism of the universalization of arbitrary hierarchies and definitions of distinction; and the analysis of scientific disciplines as structures of domination. Bourdieu did not offer a general theory of colonialism or empire, but his earliest writings, starting with Bourdieu 1958 (see also Bourdieu 1961, Bourdieu 1962, and Bourdieu 2013), contain tools for creating such a theory. In 1974 Bourdieu lectured on “colonial sociology and the decolonization of sociology” and called for an analysis of the double dependence of the colonial scientist on the colonial state and the metropolitan scientific field, while suggesting that colonial science was also relatively autonomous The best source of ideas for colonial and imperial studies in Bourdieu’s oeuvre, however, is his mature theoretical perspective with its interrelated concepts of field, symbolic capital, and habitus. If the metropolitan state can be analyzed as a bureaucratic field, then overseas colonial states may represent a distinct type of field characterized by (1) competition for specific forms of symbolic capital and (2) particular forms of autonomy from the metropolitan state and from other powers in the colony (Steinmetz 2008). Even if we theorize empires as highly complex formations in which multiple approaches to imperial domination are combined, this does not yet help us to understand the course of imperial statecraft and policy. It is a truism of political science that political projects are never be implemented according to preexisting blueprints but are always revised in the course of implementation. This is just as true of imperial and colonial situations as domestic ones. Historians and social scientists have examined the ways imperial rulers’ plans are mediated, revised, weakened, and thwarted by their supposed agents in the colonies. Recent research has emphasized internal struggles within the multi-layered fields and apparatuses of empires. While some of these fields are located within the territory of a single nation-state or colony, others transcend state boundaries, linking metropole and periphery or connecting colonies laterally. It is far from universally true, for example, that the various colonies of a given metropole could communicate with one another only by going through the core. Scientific fields in late colonial Africa often linked scientists and scientific institutions from different colonies and different empires. Postwar British sociology emerged in large part from scientific fields whose tentacles reached from London to the colonies but also laterally among different colonies (Steinmetz 2013). The fields of colonial administrators and missionaries also reached out horizontally from colony to colony in addition to being mediated vertically through the metropole. The core-periphery and hub-and-spokes models of empires are revised empirically and reformulated analytically here.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1958. Sociologie de l’Algérie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Bourdieu blames Algerian underdevelopment on the “shock effect” of colonialism and asks how different groups of Algerians reacted to the “clash of civilizations” (pp. 55, 119). Bourdieu insists on the sui generis and historical character of colonial society. He describes the Kabyle not in timeless terms but as a historical society that has been continuously reshaped by Arab and European conquest (p. 16). Algeria’s Arab-speakers had “suffered the most directly and the most profoundly from the shock of colonization” (p. 60).

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1961. Sociologie de l’Algérie. 2d rev. ed. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Whereas Bourdieu noted in the first edition of Sociologie de l’Algérie that it was “unfortunate that I cannot analyze the structure of European society” in Algeria, the second edition includes a discussion of French land annexations and settlements and concludes with a description of the Algerian war producing a “tabula rasa of a civilization that could no longer be discussed except in the past tense” (pp. 107–118, 125).

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1962. The Algerians. Boston: Beacon.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                The Algerians combines the 1961 edition of Sociologie de l’Algérie with some other writings. Here Bourdieu distinguishes the “traditionalism of the traditional society” from “colonial traditionalism,” the latter characterized as forms of “behavior which in appearance had remained unchanged,” but which “were in fact endowed with a very different meaning and form” (p. 156).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Bourdieu, Pierre. 2013. Algerian sketches. London: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a collection of Bourdieu’s earliest scientific, political, and policy-oriented texts, written during his self-creation as a sociologist in war-torn colonial Algeria. Bourdieu analyzes the forms of domination specific to colonialism, the impact of French rule on traditional Algerian society, and the army’s resettlement camps. In later writings included here Bourdieu discusses the impact of his Algerian experiences on the subsequent evolution of his thought.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Steinmetz, George. 2008. The colonial state as a social field. American Sociological Review 73.4: 589–612.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bourdieu’s conceptions of field and capital solve a key riddle of the colonial state, which is why it implemented such radically different forms of native policy in different cases, ranging from genocide to the protection of indigenous culture. Different European social groups competed inside the semi-autonomous colonial state field for a form of symbolic capital the author calls ethnographic capital, which entailed exhibiting an alleged talent for understanding the colonized. These dynamics largely determined native policies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Steinmetz, George. 2013. “A Child of the Empire: British Sociology and Colonialism, 1940s–1960s.” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 49.4: 353–378.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This article shows that many parts of the emerging sociological discipline in postwar Britain became entangled with colonialism. The author develops a model of colonial sociology as part of an array of globe-spanning imperial scientific and educational fields, some of them created by the British Colonial Office.

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