Varieties of Empire:

On the Political Economy of the Nation

Gurminder K Bhambra

5pm, 7th December

RHB137a, Goldsmiths

In much social science, nations and empires are presented as distinct political entities. This fails to recognise the conjunction of the nation-state and European colonial expansion. This talk proposes a new framework to examine the relationship between empires and nations and to address issues of political legitimacy that arise from it. Contemporary discussions of welfare and citizenship across European states, for example, are organised in terms of entitlements that follow from a demonstrated historical belonging to the nation. These discussions are potentially transformed, however, if the patrimonies associated with the nation are properly understood as formed through the varied practices of colonialism and empire which characterise European modernity. The varieties are associated both with distinct colonial and imperial formations and different associated practices such as settlement, transport of labour, and taxation. Whereas standard political economies of capitalism make the national economy central, the larger project aims to refocus political economy on the political relations of colonialism and empire.

Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies in the Department of International Relations in the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, elected 2020, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, elected 2021. She is author (with John Holmwood) of Colonialism and Modern Social Theory.

This is the second event in our speaker series for 2022-23. The full schedule is available here.

To find Goldsmiths or find room RHB137a, click here.