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Europe after Empire
Decolonization, Society, and Culture

$34.99 (G)

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Part of New Approaches to European History

  • Date Published: March 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521131889

$ 34.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Europe after Empire is a pioneering comparative history of European decolonization from the formal ending of empires to the postcolonial European present. Elizabeth Buettner charts the long-term development of post-war decolonization processes as well as the histories of inward and return migration from former empires which followed. She shows that not only were former colonies remade as a result of the path to decolonization: so too was Western Europe, with imperial traces scattered throughout popular and elite cultures, consumer goods, religious life, political formations, and ideological terrains. People were also inwardly mobile, including not simply Europeans returning 'home' but Asians, Africans, West Indians, and others who made their way to Europe to forge new lives. The result is a Europe fundamentally transformed by multicultural diversity and cultural hybridity and by the destabilization of assumptions about race, culture, and the meanings of place, and where imperial legacies and memories live on.

    • Focuses on how decolonization affected both colonizers and colonized
    • Examines decolonization in Asia, Africa and the West Indies, with reference to a range of Western European examples
    • Looks at issues of immigration, return migration, and multiculturalism in postcolonial Europe
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    • Honourable Mention, 2017 PROSE Award for European and World History

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Trying to understand how 'the empire came home' has inspired some of the most important historiography of twentieth-century Europe during the past two decades, bringing colonialism's legacies under scrutiny in challenging new ways. With an approach both comparative and transnational, Elizabeth Buettner builds on this new work to craft a vividly insightful account of decolonization and its effects, one that deals not just with Britain and France, but with the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal too."
    Geoff Eley, University of Michigan

    "This pioneering study plumbs the post-decolonization histories of multiple European societies - the Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal alongside Britain and France - and brings them into dynamic conversation. It is a continental history, necessary reading for anyone seeking to understand how the long history of overseas empires still fashions European lives and understandings today.​"
    Todd Shepard, Johns Hopkins University

    "A book that truly demonstrates the global impacts of decolonization, Europe after Empire blends comparative and transnational analyses to illustrate how Western European societies were reimagined and remade as imperial bonds were broken. The breadth of coverage is immense, the insights are invaluable."
    Martin Thomas, University of Exeter

    "Europe after Empire lives up to its promise: acknowledging the ongoing present of the imperial past in Europe, it provides an important contribution to a 'new imperial history' that is sensitive to postcolonial critique on the implicit Eurocentrism in many historiographies of colonialism and decolonization. After the first two comparative parts on decolonization, immigration and multicultural society in Britain, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Portugal, Part III urges us to reflect on European memories of empire beyond national frames."
    Susan Legêne, VU University Amsterdam

    'This new analytic recasting of post-imperial Europe clearly illustrates a significant scholarly shift from using a single nation-state as mirror … The volume is well illustrated and footnoted, and has a current bibliography … Summing Up: Recommended. All academic and public libraries.' M. S. Miller, Choice

    '[a] thoughtful, well-organized, scrupulously researched volume. The historical narratives are complemented by strong cultural, social and political analyses. … Anyone embarking on the study of decolonization - widely understood, as in this book - will be grateful to Buettner for providing so comprehensive and perceptive an overview, the best currently available.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521131889
    • length: 553 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.9kg
    • contains: 33 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Decolonization for Colonizers: Europe's Transition to the Postcolonial Era:
    1. Myths of continuity and European exceptionalism: Britain, decolonization, and the Commonwealth family ideal
    2. Occupation, resistance, and liberation: the road to Dutch decolonization
    3. Soldiering on in the shadow of war: decolonizing la plus grande France
    4. Long live the king?: Belgium, the monarchy, and the Congo between the Second World War and the decolonization years
    5. From Rose-Coloured Map to Carnation Revolution: Portugal's overseas amputations
    Part II. Migrations and Multiculturalisms in Postcolonial Europe
    6. Ending empires, coming home: the ghost worlds of European colonial repatriates
    7. Ethnic minority immigration from empires lost
    8. Reconfiguring nations: identities, belonging, and multiculturalism in the wake of postcolonial migration
    Part III. Memories, Legacies, and Further Directions:
    9. Remembering and forgetting empires
    Epilogue: thoughts toward new histories of contemporary Europe
    Further reading

  • Author

    Elizabeth Buettner, University of Amsterdam
    Elizabeth Buettner joined the University of Amsterdam as Professor of Modern History in 2014, prior to which she taught at the University of York. She received her BA from Barnard College of Columbia University and her MA and PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2012–2013, she held a Senior Research Fellowship at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany in conjunction with a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, and in 2006 she was selected to participate in the International Research Seminar on Decolonization sponsored by the National History Center, the Mellon Foundation, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Her publications include Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India (2004), which was awarded the Women's History Network Book Prize and led to her being shortlisted for the Young Academic Author of the Year award by the Times Higher Education Supplement in 2005. She has written articles in the Journal of Modern History, the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, History and Memory, the Scottish Historical Review (where her piece won the Royal Historical Society's David Berry Prize), Annales de Démographie Historique, Ab Imperio, and Food and History. Contributions to edited collections include the chapter 'Ethnicity' in A Concise Companion to History, edited by Ulinka Rublack (2011).


    • Honourable Mention, 2017 PROSE Award for European and World History

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