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European Imperialism in the 19th and 20th Centuries

From pineapples grown in Hawaii to English-speaking call centers outsourced to India, the legacy of the "Age of Imperialism" appears everywhere in our modern world. This class explores the history of European imperialism in its political, economic, and cultural dimensions from the 1840s through the 1960s. While much of the class will focus on the place of imperialism in European society, we will also engage with case-studies and counter-narratives from Africa, India, and Asia, which offer experiences and perspectives that contrast vividly with those of the Europeans. Over the course of the semester, we will address such topics as the theories of imperial expansion; the rise of "scientific" racism; the myths of empire as elements of national identities; the role of social class and gender in colonial ideologies; the economic, social, and environmental impact of colonial rule; the forces behind decolonization; and globalization in the post-colonial world. The subject engages with a range of textual and visual sources, from historical writing to documents, from fiction to film.

Course Requirements

There will be an in-class, closed-book final exam. In addition, there will be three short papers (5-6 pages in length), due at Lec #9, Lec #18, and Lec #24. There will also be two map quizzes in the first half of the semester, which will be factored into the discussion grade. I want to emphasize here that the discussion of readings in class will be a significant part of this class. Participation in discussions will count for 20% of the final grade.


Three Papers 60% (20% each)
Discussion 20%
Final Exam 20%

Please note: plagiarism of any kind - that is taking another's words and/or ideas from a book, another student, or from the internet without full and complete citation - will not be tolerated regardless of the circumstances, and will result in an "F" for the final class grade.