The Routledge History of Western Empires: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge History of Western Empires

1st Edition

Edited by Robert Aldrich, Kirsten McKenzie


526 pages

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pub: 2013-11-29
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The Routledge History of Western Empires is an all new volume focusing on the history of Western Empires in a comparative and thematic perspective. Comprising of thirty-three original chapters arranged in eight thematic sections, the book explores European overseas expansion from the Age of Discovery to the Age of Decolonisation.

Studies by both well-known historians and new scholars offer fresh, accessible perspectives on a multitude of themes ranging from colonialism in the Arctic to the scramble for the coral sea, from attitudes to the environment in the East Indies to plans for colonial settlement in Australasia. Chapters examine colonial attitudes towards poisonous animals and the history of colonial medicine, evangelisaton in Africa and Oceania, colonial recreation in the tropics and the tragedy of the slave trade.

The Routledge History of Western Empires ranges over five centuries and crosses continents and oceans highlighting transnational and cross-cultural links in the imperial world and underscoring connections between colonial history and world history. Through lively and engaging case studies, contributors not only weigh in on historiographical debates on themes such as human rights, religion and empire, and the ‘taproots’ of imperialism, but also illustrate the various approaches to the writing of colonial history. A vital contribution to the field.


This is a refreshingly original collection shedding new light on how western colonialism powerfully shaped the modern world. Both students and seasoned specialists will find it an excellent inroad into what is now one of the most innovative areas of historical scholarship. Themes are illustrated in both pithy overviews and new case studies ranging from the Arctic to Australia and Istanbul to India. Scholarly arguments abound but are always underpinned with experiences from the lives of often forgotten men and women, making this both a guidebook of Baedeker quality and a cracking good read.

Nigel Worden, University of Cape Town, South Africa

The Routledge History of Western Empires makes a valuable and effective contribution to our understanding of colonial and imperial history.

Robert Fulton, Northern Illinois University, USA

Table of Contents

Robert Aldrich and Kirsten McKenzie, Introduction Robert Aldrich and Kirsten McKenzie, 'Why Colonialism?’ Section 1: Mapping the Imperial Turn Introduction 1 Felix Hinz, ‘Spanish-Indian Encounters: The Conquest and Creation of New Empires’ 2 Jorge Flores, ‘Floating Franks: The Portuguese and their Empire as seen from Early Modern Asia’ 3 Trevor Burnard, ‘Empires, the Age of Revolution and Plantation America’ 4 Michael A. McDonnell and Kate Fullagar, ‘Facing Empire: Indigenous Experiences of European Empire in Comparative Perspective, 1760–1820’ 5 Pernille Røge, ‘An Early Scramble for Africa: British, Danish and French Colonial Projects on the Coast of West Africa, 1780s and 1790s’ Section 2: Planning Empire Introduction 6 Tony Ballantyne, ‘The Theory and Practice of Empire Building: Edward Gibbon Wakefield and "Systematic Colonisation"’ 7 Clare Anderson and Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, ‘Convict Labour and the Western Empires, 1415–1954’ 8 Mark I. Choate, ‘New Dynamics and New Imperial Powers, 1876–1905’ Section 3: Locations of Empire Introduction 9 Annaliese Jacobs, ‘Empire at the Floe Edge: Western Empires and Indigenous Peoples in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean, c. 1820–1900’ 10 Clive Moore, ‘Empires of the Coral Sea’ 11 Jacob Norris, ‘Colonialism in Palestine: Science, Religion and the Western Appropriation of the Dead Sea in the Long Nineteenth Century’ Section 4: People of Empire Introduction 12 Blanca Tovías, ‘Native Women of the Americas in Power (c. 1530–1880)’ 13 Cindy McCreery, ‘Neighbourly Relations: Nineteenth-Century Western Navies’ Interactions in the Asia-Pacific Region’ 14 Nicholas Doumanis, ‘The Ottoman Roman Empire, c. 1680–1900: How Empires Shaped a Modern Nation’ 15 Marie-Paule Ha, ‘The Making of the Coloniale under the Third Republic’ Section 5: Imperial Sciences Introduction 16 Christina Skott, ‘Expanding Flora’s Empire: Linnaean Science and the Swedish East India Company’ 17 Martin E. Thomas, ‘Anthropology and the British Empire’ 18 Laurence Monnais and Hans Pols, ‘Health and Disease in the Colonies: Medicine in the Age of Empire’ 19 Peter Hobbins, ‘Imperial Science or the Republic of Poison Letters? Venomous Animals, Transnational Exchange and Colonial Identities’ Section 6: Imperial Spaces Introduction 20 Alan Lester, ‘Place and Space in British Imperial History Writing’ 21 Frances Steel, ‘Lines across the Sea: Trans-Pacific Passenger Shipping in the Age of Steam’ 22 Jim Masselos, ‘Empire and City: The Imperial Presence in Urban India’ 23 Eric T. Jennings, ‘Hill Stations, Spas, Clubs, Safaris and Colonial Life’ Section 7: Imperial Cultures Introduction 24 Mary Roberts, ‘Ottoman Art, Empire and the Orientalism Debate’ 25 Susie Protschky, ‘Environment and Visual Culture in the Tropics: The Netherlands Indies, c. 1830–1949’ 26 John Connell, ‘At Play on the Football Fields of Empire?’ 27 Patricia M.E. Lorcin, ‘Pax Romana Transposed: Rome as an Exemplar for Western Imperialism’ Section 8: Making and Unmaking Empire Introduction 28 Jason Bruner, ‘British Missions and Missionaries in the High Imperial Era, c. 1857–1914’ 29 John Gascoigne, ‘Religion and Empire in the South Seas in the first half of the nineteenth century’ 30 Matthew G. Stanard, ‘Violence and Empire: The Curious Case of Belgium and the Congo’ 31 Roland Burke, ‘Human Rights and Empire’ 32 Martin C. Thomas, ‘Resisting Decolonisation: Empire and Republic in Post-War France’ Antoinette Burton, Afterword





About the Editors

Robert Aldrich is Professor of European History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Museums, Monuments and Colonial Memories (2005) and Gay Life Stories (2012) and editor of The Age of Empires (2007).

Kirsten Mckenzie is Associate Professor of History at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Scandal in the Colonies: Sydney and Cape Town, 1820 – 1850 (2004) and A Swindler’s Progress: Nobles and Convicts in the Age of Liberty (2009).

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Social History