The organized study of history began in Britain when the Empire was at its height. Belief in the destiny of imperial England profoundly shaped the imagination of the first generation of professional historians. But with the Empire ended, do these mental habits still haunt historical explanation?
Drawing on postcolonial theory in a lively mix of historical and theoretical chapters, The Expansion of England explores the history of the British Empire and the practice of historical enquiry itself. There are essays on Asia, Australasia, the West Indies, South Africa and Britain. Examining the sexual, racial and ethnic identities shaping the experiences of English men and women in the nineteenth century, the authors argue that habits of thought forged in the Empire still give meaning to English identities today.