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Britain and the World: A New Field?

  • Tehila Sasson, James Vernon, Miles Ogborn, Priya Satia and Catherine Hall...

Over the past decade, historians, journals, conferences, and even job advertisements have devoted attention to a new field of inquiry, “Britain and the world.” This emergent category is far from coherent but, despite a variety of approaches, shares a common assumption that Britain's interactions with the world beyond its shores enable us to better understand the histories of both Britain and the globe. Writing the history of Britain from a comparative, imperial, or transnational perspective is not wholly new. British historians have long worked comparatively in a predominantly European frame, while historians of empire and internationalism have also highlighted the importance of transnational and global frameworks. What, then, is signified by the articulation of “Britain and the world” as a new field? What do historians of Britain, and indeed historians of its empire and the world, stand to gain or lose from the promotion of Britain and the world as a field? What new skills, methodologies, and archives are required to become a historian of Britain and the world? We invited historians from different generations and national academies as well as with different ways of approaching the history of Britain in an extranational frame. Our hope is that these essays will open up debate and stimulate broader discussions about the changing nature of the field and our work as historians of Britain.

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This forum began as a roundtable at the North American Conference on British Studies conference in Washington, DC, in November 2016, shortly after the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum (23 June 2016) and in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election. We thank Philippa Levine and Susan Pennybacker for participation in the roundtable and the audience members for their contributions, and the four anonymous reviewers for Journal of British Studies.

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1 For example, Tehila Sasson was hired as a historian of Britain and the world in 2017 at Emory University, and James Vernon has worked with those appointed at Macquarie University, Emory University, and University of York.

2 It is impossible to survey here the entire literature that sought to resituate British history in broader geographical frames. In the essay below, James Vernon tries to cover some of this ground.

3 Canonical examples include James, C. L. R., Black Jacobins: Toussaint Louverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London, 1938); Williams, Eric, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill, 1944); Hobsbawn, Eric, Industry and Empire: An Economic History of Britain since 1750 (London, 1963); Wallerstein, Immanuel, The Modern World System, 3 vols. (New York, 1974–1989); Arrighi, Giovanni, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times (London, 1994).

4 Bayly, C. A., Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830, 1st ed. (London, 1989), 15.

5 Burton, Antoinette, “Who Needs the Nation? Interrogating ‘British’ History,” Journal of Historical Sociology 10, no. 3 (September 1997): 227–48.

6 The New Oxford World History series began publishing volumes on particular regions, nations, and phenomena in 2010. See also Bender, Thomas, A Nation among Nations: America's Place in World History (New York, 2006); Armitage, David and Subrahmanyam, Sanjay, eds., The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c. 1760–1840 (New York, 2010); Desan, Suzanne, Hunt, Lynn, and Nelson, William Max, eds., The French Revolution in Global Perspective (Ithaca, 2013); Naranch, Bradley and Eley, Geoff, eds., German Colonialism in a Global Age (Durham, 2014). For recent critical appraisals, see Bell, David A., “Questioning the Global Turn: The Case of the French Revolution,” French Historical Studies 37, no. 1 (2014): 124; Jeremy Adelman, “What Is Global History Now?, Aeon, 2 March 2017,”

7 Chakrabarty, Dipesh, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000).

8 Manning, Patrick, Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past (New York, 2003); McNeill, William H. and McNeill, J. R., The Human Web: A Bird's Eye View of World History (New York, 2003); Bright, Charles and Geyer, Michael, “World History in a Global Age,” American Historical Review 100, no. 4 (October 1995): 1034–65; Eley, GeoffHistoricizing the Global, Politicizing Capital: Giving the Present a Name,” History Workshop Journal 63, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 154–88.

9 Massey, Doreen, Space, Place and Gender (Minneapolis, 1991); Cohen, Robin and Kennedy, Paul, Global Sociology (New York, 2000); Jay, Paul, Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies (Ithaca, 2010); Casid, Jill H. and D'Souza, Aruna, eds., Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn (Williamstown, 2014).

10 de Castro, Eduardo Viveiros, “‘And,’” in The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds (Chicago, 2016): 3954, at 40.

11 Ogborn, Miles, Global Lives: Britain and the World, 1550–1800 (Cambridge, 2008).

12 For a while, and in response to one of the publisher's readers, the book's main title was going to be “Global Lives, Global Encounters,” but I was always convinced that “global lives” should be able to capture multiple ways in which individuals experienced global processes.

13 Ogborn, Miles, “Historical Geographies of Globalisation, c. 1500–1800,” in Graham, Brian J. and Nash, Catherine, eds., Modern Historical Geographies (London, 2000): 4369. I also taught an undergraduate course called Global Historical Geography, on which the book was based.

14 Colley, Linda, Captives: Britain, Empire and the World, 1600–1850 (London, 2002), which I reviewed in “‘Gotcha!,’” History Workshop Journal 56 (Autumn 2003): 231–38.

15 Armitage, David, “Making the Empire British: Scotland in the Atlantic World, 1542–1707,” Past and Present 155, no. 1 (May 1997): 3463; Colley, Linda, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (New Haven, 1992); Wilson, Kathleen, This Island Race: Englishness, Empire and Gender in the Eighteenth Century (London, 2003).

16 Felix Driver, however, shows that even the most iconic maps of high empire are more complex artifacts than they have been taken for. Driver, Felix, “In Search of the Imperial Map: Walter Crane and the Image of Empire,” History Workshop Journal 69, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 146–57.

17 Brewer, John, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688–1783 (New York, 1989), xiii.

18 Parry, Glyn, “John Dee and the Elizabethan British Empire in Its European Context,” Historical Journal 49, no. 3 (September 2006): 643–75.

19 Ogborn, Miles, Indian Ink: Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company (Chicago, 2007); Braddick, Michael J., State Formation in Early Modern England, c. 1550–1700 (Cambridge, 2000).

20 The terminology combines that of Latour, Bruno, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society (Cambridge, MA, 1987) and Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.

21 Wilson, Kathleen, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture and Imperialism in England, 1715–1785 (Cambridge, 1995); Walvin, James, The Fruits of Empire: Exotic Produce and British Taste, 1660–1800 (London, 1997); see also work such as Brah, Avtar, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London, 1996) and her concept of “diaspora space.” This was also the reason for dropping “Global Encounters” from the title (see above note 12).

22 Quoted in Ogborn, Miles, Spaces of Modernity: London's Geographies, 1680–1780 (New York, 1998), 138.

23 Hall, Stuart, “Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities,” in King, Anthony D., ed., Globalisation and the World System (London, 1991), 4268; Massey, Doreen, “A Global Sense of Place,” Marxism Today 33 (June 1991): 2429.

24 For quite different eighteenth-century “citizens of the world” in London, see Carretta, Vincent, Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man (Athens, 2005), and Hancock, David, Citizens of the World: London Merchants and the Integration of the British Atlantic Community, 1735–1785 (Cambridge, 1995). For a discussion of European indifference to the Americas, see Trevor Burnard's reply in the forum on his book Planters, Merchants, and Slaves in Journal of Early American History 5, no. 3 (November 2015): 271–310, at 301. For a detailed account of how and why abolitionists tried to make the Atlantic world matter to more people in Britain, see Brown, Christopher L., Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill, 2006), and for a later period, see Hall, Catherine, Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830–1867 (Cambridge, 2002).

25 On the latter, see Lewis, Simon L. and Maslin, Mark A., “Defining the Anthropocene,” Nature 519, no. 7542 (March 2015): 171–80; and Jonsson, Frederik Albritton, “The Industrial Revolution in the Anthropocene,” Journal of Modern History 84, no. 3 (September 2012): 679–96.

26 I use these examples to indicate how that would separate what is brilliantly combined in Sweet, James H., Domingos Álvares, African Healing, and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World (Chapel Hill, 2011). For attempts to rethink the geographical configurations of imperial sovereignty, see Benton, Lauren, A Search for Sovereignty: Law and Geography in European Empires, 1400–1900 (Cambridge, 2011).

27 Within a growing literature, see Thornton, John, Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800 (Cambridge, 1998); Armitage, David, “‘Three Concepts of Atlantic History,‘” in Armitage, David and Braddick, Michael, eds., The British Atlantic World, 1500–1800 (New York, 2002), 1127; Ogborn, Miles, “Atlantic Geographies,” Social and Cultural Geography 6, no. 3 (June 2005): 379–85; and Cañizares-Esquerra, Jorge and Breen, Benjamin, “Hybrid Atlantics: Future Directions for the History of the Atlantic World,”‘ History Compass 11, no. 8 (2013): 597609.

28 Bayly, C. A., Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770–1870 (Cambridge, 1983); C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian; and Bayly, C. A., The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914 (Oxford, 2004).

29 James, The Black Jacobins; Williams, Capitalism and Slavery; Rodney, Walter, How Europe Undeveloped Africa (London, 1972); Said, Edward W., Orientalism (New York, 1978); Guha, Ranajit and Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, eds., Selected Subaltern Studies (New York, 1988).

30 Various debates have revolved around Ferguson, Niall, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (London, 2003): Porter, Bernard, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain (Oxford, 2006); and Roberts, Andrew, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900 (London, 2006).

31 Viveiros de Castro, “‘And,’” 40.

32 Salmond, Anne, The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook's Encounters in the South Seas (New Haven, 2003), 430.

33 Johnson, Christopher, Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Formative Years (Cambridge, 2003), 7576.

34 Salmond, Trial of the Cannibal Dog, 431; Thomas, Nicholas, Discoveries: The Voyages of Captain Cook (London, 2003); Ballantyne, Tony, Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Maori, and the Question of the Body (Durham, 2014).

35 See Bell, Duncan, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of the World Order, 1860–1900 (Cambridge, 2007); Pietsch, Tamson, Empire of Scholars: Universities, Networks and the British Academic World (Manchester, 2013); and Behm, Amanda, Imperial History and the Global Politics of Exclusion: Britain, 1880–1940 (London, 2018). The following paragraphs draw from Vernon, James, “The History of Britain Is Dead; Long Live a Global History of Britain,” History Australia 13, no. 1 (May 2016): 1934.

36 Pocock, J. G. A., “British History: A Plea for a New Subject,” Journal of Modern History 47, no. 4 (December 1975): 601–21.

37 Pocock, “British History,” 620, 621.

38 Schofield, Camilla, Enoch Powell and the Making of Postcolonial Britain (Cambridge, 2013); Perry, Kennetta Hammond, London Is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship, and the Politics of Race (Oxford, 2016).

39 Russell, Conrad, “The British Problem and the English Civil War,” History 72, no. 236 (October 1987): 395415; Kearney, Hugh, The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (Cambridge, 1989); Bradshaw, Brendan and Morrill, John, eds., The British Problem c. 1534–1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago (New York, 1996); Samuel, Raphael, “British Dimensions: ‘Four Nations History,’History Workshop Journal 40, no. 1 (Autumn 1995): ixxii.

40 For good overviews, see Armitage, David and Braddick, Michael, eds., The British Atlantic World, 1500–1800 (London, 2002); Greene, Jack and Morgan, Philip D., eds., Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (Oxford, 2009). See also Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, MA, 1993).

41 Clark, Jonathan, English Society, 1660–1832: Religion, Ideology and Politics during the Ancien Regime (Cambridge, 1985); Brewer, John, Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688–1783 (Cambridge, MA, 1990); Colley, Britons; Pedersen, Susan, Family, Dependence and the Origins of the Welfare State: Britain and France, 1914–1945 (Cambridge, 1995); Cohen, Deborah, The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914–1939 (Oakland, 2001); Cohen, Deborah and O'Connor, Maura, eds., Comparison and History: Europe in Cross National Perspective (London, 2004).

42 Burton, Antoinette, After the Imperial Turn? Thinking with and through the Nation (Durham, 2003); Kennedy, Dane, “The Imperial History Wars,” Journal of British Studies 54, no. 1 (January 2015): 522; Ghosh, Durba, “Another Set of Imperial Turns,” American Historical Review 117, no. 3 (June 2012): 772–93.

43 Said, Orientalism; Guha and Spivak, eds., Selected Subaltern Studies; Burton, Antoinette, Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women and Imperial Culture, 1865–1915 (Chapel Hill, 1994); Stoler, Ann Laura and Cooper, Frederick, eds., Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Oakland, 1997); Wilson, Kathleen, ed., A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660–1840 (Cambridge, 2003). For historians of Britain, Burton's “Who Needs the Nation?” quickly became iconic.

44 Hall, Catherine, ed., Cultures of Empire: Colonisers in Britain and the Empire in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (London, 2000); Hall, Catherine, Civilizing Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830–1867 (Chicago, 2002). See also Levine, Philippa, ed., Gender and Empire: Oxford History of the British Empire (Oxford, 2004); Schwarz, Bill, White Man's World (Oxford, 2011).

45 On globalization talk, see Cooper, Frederick, Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (Berkeley, 2005), chap. 4.

46 North American Conference on British Studies, NACBS Report on the State and Future of British Studies in North America (1999), This story of decline was also evident in Australia; see Prest, Wilfred, “British History in Australia over Two Centuries,” Australian History Association Bulletin 89 (December 1999): 4260. For a fuller discussion, see Boucher, Leigh and Fullagar, Kate, “British History from the Antipodes,” History Australia 13, no. 1 (May 2016): 618.

47 NACBS Report.

48 Clossey, Luke and Guyatt, Nicholas, “It's a Small World after All: The Wider World in Historians’ Peripheral Vision,” Perspectives on History 51, no. 5 (May 2013),

49 Townsend, Robert B. and Brookins, Julia, “The Troubled Academic Job Market for History,” Perspectives on History 54, no. 2 (February 2016), The data for the United Kingdom is less easily available, but what we have shows that while the number of positions have actually increased since 2008, they are dwarfed by the exponentially rising number of new PhDs. Brodie Waddell, “Students, PhDs, Historians and Jobs, 1994–95 to 2014–15,” The Many-Headed Monster (blog), 29 February 2016,

50 Cain, P. J. and Hopkins, A. G., “Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Overseas Expansion I: The Old Colonial System, 1688–1850,” Economic History Review 39, no. 4 (November 1986): 501–25; Cain, P. J. and Hopkins, A. G., “Gentlemanly Capitalism and British Overseas Expansion II: New Imperialism, 1850–1945,” Economic History Review 40, no. 1 (February 1987): 126. See also Cain, P. J. and Hopkins, A. G. British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction, 1914–1990 (London, 1993).

51 Bridge, Carl and Fedorowich, Kent, eds., The British World: Diaspora, Culture, and Identity (London, 2003); Buckner, Phillip and Francis, R. Douglas, eds., Rediscovering the British World (Calgary, 2005).

52 Britain and the World was first published in 2008. The following year saw the publication of Darwin, John, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World System, 1830–1970 (Cambridge, 2009); and Belich, James, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783–1939 (Oxford, 2009).

53 Bright, Rachel K. and Dilley, Andrew, “After the British World,” Historical Journal 60, no. 2 (June 2017): 547–68.

54 Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain; Mazower, Mark, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (Princeton, 2009); Pedersen, Susan, The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire (Oxford, 2015).

55 Kennedy, Dane and Barton, Gregory, “Debating the ‘Global History of Britain,’Perspectives on History 51, no. 2 (February 2013); Satia, Priya, “Guarding the Guardians: Payoffs and Perils,” Humanity 7, no. 3 (Winter 2016): 481–98.

56 See for example, Ballantyne, Entanglements of Empire; Lester, Alan and Laidlaw, Zoe, eds., Indigenous Communities and Settler Colonialism: Land Holding, Loss and Survival in an Interconnected World (New York, 2015); Lowe, Lisa, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham, 2015); Sinha, Mrinalini, Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire (Durham, 2006); Matera, Marc, Black London: The Imperial Metropolis and Decolonization in the Twentieth Century (Oakland, 2015).

57 Colley, Linda, The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh (New York, 2008); Ogborn, Global Lives.

58 Magee, Gary and Thompson, Andrew, eds., Empire and Globalisation: Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c. 1850–1914 (Cambridge, 2010); Ballantyne, Tony and Burton, Antoinette, Empires and the Reach of the Global, 1870–1945 (Cambridge, MA, 2014).

59 Hilton, Matthew, Prosperity for All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalization (Ithaca, 2009); Bailkin, Jordanna, Afterlife of Empire (Berkeley, 2012); Baughan, Emily, “‘Every Citizen of Empire Implored to Save the Children!’: Empire, Internationalism and the Save the Children Fund in Inter-War Britain,” Historical Research 86, no. 231 (February 2013): 116–37; Matera, Black London; Sasson, Tehila, “From Empire to Humanity: The Russian Famine and the Imperial Origins of International Humanitarianism,” Journal of British Studies 55, no. 3 (July 2016): 519–37.

60 Vernon, James, Modern Britain, 1750 to the Present (Cambridge, 2017).

61 Significantly, this is an approach that has been pioneered by scholars who are not historians of Britain. See Williams, Capitalism and Slavery; Pomeranz, Kenneth, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, 1999); Mitchell, Timothy, Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil (London, 2011); Tooze, Adam, The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order (New York, 2014); Beckert, Sven, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (New York, 2015).

62 Brodie Waddell, “What Is Microhistory Now?,” The Many-Headed Monster (blog), 20 June 2017,

63 Sherwood, Philip, The History of Heathrow (Stroud, 1999); Doherty, Sharon, Heathrow's Terminal 5: History in the Making (Hoboken, 2008); Anderson, Ian, Heathrow: From Tents to Terminal (Stroud, 2014).

64 Duncan Bell, “The Anglosphere: New Enthusiasm for an Old Dream,” Prospect, February 2017,

65 Said, Orientalism.

66 See, for example, Thomas Metcalf, Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge, 1997), and his Imperial Connections: India in the Indian Ocean Arena, 1860–1920 (Berkeley, 2008).

67 See, for example, the work of Lauren Benton and Daniel Headrick.

68 This work builds on older trends of anticolonial historians challenging metropolitan versions of British history, from Dadabhai Naorji's “drain theory” to Williams's Capitalism and Slavery.

69 I have written at greater length about this in “Byron, Gandhi and the Thompsons: The Making of British Social History and Unmaking of Indian History,” History Workshop Journal 81, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 135–70.

70 See, paradigmatically, Hall, Civilising Subjects; Beckert, Empire of Cotton; Cain and Hopkins, “Gentlemanly Capitalism”; Rothschild, Emma, The Inner Life of Empire: An Eighteenth-Century History (Princeton, 2011).

71 See also Ballantyne, Tony, “On Place, Space and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand,” New Zealand Journal of History 45, no. 1 (April 2011): 5070.

72 Hall, Civilising Subjects, is exemplary in its treatment of such local contexts.

73 See, paradigmatically, Massey, Doreen, “A Global Sense of Place,” in Space, Place and Gender (Minneapolis, 1994), 146–56. Recent work centered on oceans also offers useful guides. See, for instance, Tagliacozzo, Eric, Siu, Helen, Purdue, Peter, eds., Asia Inside Out: Connected Places (Cambridge, MA, 2015).

74 “In Full: Theresa May's Article 50 Statement,” Telegraph, 29 March 2017; Kehinde Andrews, “Building Brexit on the Myth of Empire Ignores Our Brutal History,” Guardian, 7 March 2017.

75 Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain. See also Bell, “The Anglosphere.” One could even claim, following Mrinalini Sinha's work, that May's vision was entrenched within a gender-based vision to Britain's global engagements with the world. See Sinha, Specters of Mother India.

76 Gilroy, Paul, After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture? (London, 2004).

77 Kvint, Vladimir, The Global Emerging Market: Strategic Management and Economics (London, 2009), 248; Nick Paumgarten, “Magic Mountain: What Happens at Davos?,” New Yorker, 5 March 2012,; Neil Parmar, “Klaus Schwab: Inside the World Economic Forum,” Wall Street Journal, 4 September 2014; “Who Is the Man behind the World Economic Forum in Davos?,” Le News, 26 January 2015; “WEF and Davos: A Brief History,” Telegraph, 18 January 2016; John Thornhill, review of The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab, Financial Times, 17 January 2016.

78 Kramer, Paul A., “Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World,” American Historical Review 116, no. 5 (December 2011): 1348–91, at 1387.

79 Burton, “Who Needs the Nation?”

80 Darwin, John, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830–1970, (Cambridge, 2009); Belich, James, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Angloworld, 1783–1939 (Oxford, 2009).

81 Immerwhar, Daniel, Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development, (Cambridge, MA, 2015); Samantha Iyer, “The Paradox of Poverty and Plenty: Egypt, India, and the Rise of U.S. Food Aid, 1870s to 1950s” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2014).

82 Zahra, Tara, The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe's Families after World War II (Cambridge, MA, 2011).

83 Ogle, Vanessa, The Global Transformation of Time, 1870–1950 (Cambridge, MA, 2015).

84 Indeed, as Stuart Hall has long reminded us, “The return to the local is often a response to globalization.” Hall, Stuart, “The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity,” in Culture, Globalization, and the World-System: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity, ed. King, Anthony (Minneapolis, 1997), 1940, at 33. This is part of an interdisciplinary conversation in geography, anthropology, and postcolonial studies. See, for example, Massey, Space, Place and Gender; Gilroy's, Paul use of “the planetary” in Postcolonial Melancholia (New York, 2010); the spatial aspects in Irigaray, Luce, An Ethics of Sexual Difference (New York, 2005); Robertson, Roland, “Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity,” in Featherstone, Mike, Lash, Scott, and Robertson, Roland, eds., Global Modernities (New York, 1995), 2544; Appadurai, Arjun, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis, 1996).

85 Pedersen's work offers at least two crucial contributions to historians of Britain and the world. First, her story shows how while the Permanent Mandates Commission was intended to reaffirm the place of the British Empire in the international order, the commission de facto created a space for internationalization through its petitions system. Secondly, looking at archives beyond Kew allows Pedersen to reassess Britain's role in this international system after Germany joins the League in 1926. Susan Pedersen, The Guardians.

86 See for example, Mani, Lata, Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (Oakland, 1998); Sharma, Sanjay, Famine, Philanthropy, and the Colonial State: North India in the Early Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 2001); Vernon, James, Hunger: A Modern History (Cambridge, MA, 2007); Price, Richard, Making Empire: Colonial Encounters and the Creation of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century Africa (New York, 2008); Grant, Kevin, A Civilised Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884–1926 (London, 2005); Koven, Seth, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London (Princeton, 2004). Building on these, Alan Lester and Fae Dussart in Colonization and the Origins of Humanitarian Governance: Protecting Aborigines across the Nineteenth-Century British Empire (Cambridge, 2014) have explored humanitarianism as “soft power” of the nineteenth-century imperial state.

87 See for example, Hilton, Matthew, “Charity and the End of Empire: British Non-Governmental Organizations, Africa, and International Development in the 1960s,” American Historical Review 123, no. 2 (April 2018): 493517, and Matthew Hilton et al., “History and Humanitarianism: A Conversation,” Past and Present (forthcoming, online only); Emily Baughan, Saving the Children: British Humanitarianism in Europe and Africa, c. 1915–2010 (forthcoming); Bell, Erin, “‘A Most Horrifying Maturity in Crime’: Age, Gender and Juvenile Delinquency in Colonial Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising,” Atlantic Studies 11, no. 4 (October 2, 2014): 473–90; O'Sullivan, Kevin, “Humanitarian Encounters: Biafra, NGOs and Imaginings of the Third World in Britain and Ireland, 1967–70,” Journal of Genocide Research 16, no. 2–3 (July 3, 2014): 299315.

88 Fassin, Didier and Pandolfi, Mariella, Contemporary States of Emergency: The Politics of Military and Humanitarian Interventions (New York, 2010).

89 The new histories of humanitarianism are, of course, only one case in point. It will be equally interesting to see how historians of migration and citizenship, for example, might use international and nongovernmental archives to resituate the history of British decolonization in a more global framework.

90 Sasson, Tehila, “Milking the Third World: Humanitarianism, Capitalism and the Moral Economy of the Nestlé Boycott,” American Historical Review 121, no. 4 (October 2016): 11961224.

91 Derrida, Jacques, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago, 1998); Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, “The Rani of Sirmur: An Essay in Reading the Archives,” History and Theory 24, no. 3 (October 1985): 247–72; Stoler, Ann Laura, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton, 2010). See also Antoinette Burton's “Archive Stories: Gender in the Making of Imperial and Colonial Histories,” in Levine, ed., Gender and Empire, 281–93.

92 Looking at the silence and secrecy in the archives is, of course, not an exclusive method of imperial histories. I also draw from social and intimate histories like the one recently offered in Cohen, Deborah, Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain (Oxford, 2013).

93 Adelman, “What Is Global History Now?”

94 See Priya Satia's review of Sven Beckert in Journal of Modern History 88, no. 3 (September 2016): 640–42; and Hudson, Peter James, “The Racist Dawn of Capitalism: New Books on the Economy of Bondage,” Boston Review 42, no. 2 (March/April, 2016): 4248.

95 Also published as Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2017).

96 For the significance of “denial” to historical work, see the special section “Feature: Denial in History,” History Workshop Journal 84, no. 1 (Autumn 2017): 1–148.

This forum began as a roundtable at the North American Conference on British Studies conference in Washington, DC, in November 2016, shortly after the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum (23 June 2016) and in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election. We thank Philippa Levine and Susan Pennybacker for participation in the roundtable and the audience members for their contributions, and the four anonymous reviewers for Journal of British Studies.

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