Decolonising Europe?: Popular Responses to the End of Empire, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Decolonising Europe?

Popular Responses to the End of Empire, 1st Edition

Edited by Berny Sèbe, Matthew G. Stanard


336 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367139605
pub: 2020-04-20
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Decolonising Europe? Popular Responses to the End of Empire offers a new paradigm to understand decolonisation in Europe by showing how it was fundamentally a fluid process of fluxes and refluxes involving not only transfers of populations, ideas and socio-cultural practices across continents but also complex intra-European dynamics at a time of political convergence following the Treaty of Rome. Decolonisation was neither a process of sudden, rapid changes to European cultures nor one of cultural inertia, but a development marked by fluidity, movement, and dynamism. Rather than being a static process where Europe’s (former) metropoles and their peoples ‘at home’ reacted to the end of empire ‘out there’, decolonisation translated into new realities for Europe’s cultures, societies, and politics as flows, ebbs, fluxes, and cultural refluxes reshaped both former colonies and former metropoles.

The volume’s contributors set out a carefully crafted panorama of decolonisation’s sequels in European popular culture by means of in-depth studies of specific cases and media, analysing the interwoven meaning, momentum, memory, material culture, and migration patterns of the end of empire across eight major European countries.

The revised meaning of ‘decolonisation’ that emerges will challenge scholars in several fields, and the panorama of new research in the book charts paths for new investigations. The question mark in the title asks not only how European cultures experienced the ‘end of empire’ but also the extent to which this is still a work in progress.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Making Sense of the End of Empire: Fluxes and Flows in Decolonising Europe?

Berny Sebe and Matthew G. Stanard


Meaning: Making Sense of Decolonisation

1. Magna Carta and the End of Empire

Amanda Behm

2. The End of Empire and the Four Nations

John M. MacKenzie

3. Reverberations of Decolonisation: British Approaches to Governance in Post-colonial Africa and the Rise of the ‘Strong Men’

Christopher Prior


Media: Words and Images of the End of Empire

4. The Semantics of Decolonisation: The Public Debate on the New Guinea Question in the Netherlands, 1950-62

Vincent Kuitenbrouwer

5. Decolonisation and the Press: A Path to Pluralism in Franco’s Spain, ca. 1950-75

Sasha D. Pack


Memory: Recalling Empire in Post-imperial Worlds

6. Afterlives of Colonialism in the Everyday: Street Names and the (Un)Making of Imperial Debris

Britta Schilling

7. Passing the Point of No Return: Italy’s Regretted End of Empire and the Mogadishu Massacre of 1948

Giuseppe Finaldi

8. Oases of Imperial Nostalgia: British and French Desert Memories after Empire

Berny Sèbe

9. Questioning Portugal’s Social Cohesion, and Preparing Post-imperial Memory: Returned Settlers (retornados) and Portuguese Society, 1975-80

Isabel dos Santos Lourenço and Alexander Keese


Material Culture: Tactile Rémanences

10. Ephemera and the Dynamics of Colonial Memory

Charles Forsdick

11. Domestic Museums of Decolonisation? Objects, Colonial Officials, and the Afterlives of Empire in Britain

Chris Jeppesen and Sarah Longair

12. Decongolizing Europe? African Art and Post-Colony Belgium

Matthew G. Stanard


Momentum: Decolonisation and its Aftermath

Afterword: Diverging Experiences of Decolonisation

Wm. Roger Louis

About the Editors

Berny Sèbe is Senior Lecturer in Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK

Matthew G. Stanard is Professor of History at Berry College, USA

About the Series

Empire and the Making of the Modern World, 1650-2000

This monograph series seeks to explore the complexities of the relationships among empires, modernity and global history. In so doing, it wishes to challenge the orthodoxy that the experience of modernity was located exclusively in the west, and that the non-western world was brought into the modern age through conquest, mimicry and association. To the contrary, modernity had its origins in the interaction between the two worlds.

In this sense the imperial experience was not an adjunct to western modernization, but was constitutive of it. Thus the origins of the defining features of modernity - the bureaucratic state, market economy, governance, and so on - have to be sought in the imperial encounter, as do the categories such as race, sexuality and citizenship which constitute the modern individual. This necessarily complicates perspectives on the nature of the relationships between the western and non-western worlds, nation and empire, and 'centre' and 'periphery'.

To examine these issues the series presents work that is interdisciplinary and comparative in its approach; in this respect disciplines including economics, geography, literature, politics, intellectual history, anthropology, science, legal studies, psychoanalysis and cultural studies have much potential, and will all feature. Equally, we consider race, gender and class vital categories to the study of imperial experiences. We aim, therefore, to provide a forum for dialogues among different modes of writing the histories of empires and the modern. Much valuable work on empires is currently undertaken outside the western academy and has yet to receive due attention. This is an imbalance the series intends to address and so we are particularly interested in contributions from such scholars. Also important to us are transnational and comparative perspectives on the imperial experiences of western and non-western worlds.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Africa / General
HISTORY / Asia / General
HISTORY / Europe / France
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / Europe / Spain & Portugal
HISTORY / Expeditions & Discoveries