Thinking the Empire Whole

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

In this lecture, British History scholar Steven Pincus focuses on the central role of the imperial state. While others have highlighted the global nature of the empire, those scholars have either highlighted networks of individuals or larger processes like settler colonialism. Both models miss the central role of the imperial state, according to Pincus.

In the lecture, he will argue that the goal of the imperial government was to maximise the happiness of all the imperial subjects/citizens. In this view, the imperial crisis of the 1762-1780s needs to be understood as a civil war between these two visions of empire. The fundamental cleavage was not between coloniser and colonised but between imperial hierarchists and imperial confederationalists.

Steven Pincus received his PhD in history from Harvard in 1990. He is a prominent scholar of Early Modern British History and author of the widely acclaimed, 1688: The First Modern Revolution. In March 2010, Pincus delivered the Sir John Neale lecture at University College, London. He was in Oxford for the 2010-2011 academic year working on the origins of the British Empire. He was Bradford Durfee Professor of History at Yale University from 2005 until July of 2018. He has just re-joined the history faculty at the University of Chicago.