Less than a century ago, the British Empire covered nearly a quarter of the globe. Though that empire has largely vanished from the map, its legacies shape many aspects of the world today, including contested international borders, financial and commercial networks, widespread legal practices and norms, and the use of English as a global lingua franca. Brexit and movements including #BlackLivesMatter have now prompted a sustained reckoning with the empire’s legacies in Britain itself. In this seminar, we will look at the causes and contours of Britain’s imperial history wars as they are being waged around public monuments, school curricula, and reparations. We will use this case as an opportunity to reflect more generally on the place of history in public life during turbulent times.
SOCIAL STUDIES, WORLD HISTORY
Maya Jasanoff is the Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard. She is the author of three books about British imperial and global history—Edge of Empire, Liberty’s Exiles, and The Dawn Watch—and is the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Cundill Prize in History, and the George Washington Book Prize. She writes widely about history, literature, and world affairs for publications, including The New Yorker and the New York Times.