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Podcast

A very brief introduction to the British Empire

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This podcast series is meant to give a very brief introduction to the British Empire for a general audience. The perfect resource for schools, teachers, and interested listeners who simply want to expand their general knowledge of the history of British Imperialism. 

Episode 1

Join us for our special pilot episode of A Very Brief Introduction to the British Empire, focusing on disease in imperial context!

Historians Paula Larsson and Olivia Durand discuss the impact of contagion as it shaped conquest, exploitation, and the development of racial theory. Special guest Manikarnika Dutta calls in for a spotlight on the history of cholera.

This is a brief introduction to smallpox in the new world, malaria and yellow fever in the Caribbean, cholera and the idea of a ‘diseased tropic’, ecological changes from disease in Africa, and a summary of modern legacies from imperial medical power. It is a lot of content, so we recommend listening to it in segments!


Episode 2

Join us for our second episode of A Very Brief Introduction to the British Empire, highlighting British colonisation in the Atlantic Ocean.

Historian Paula Larsson outlines the British settlement of Ireland, North America, and the Caribbean from the Tudor era to the mid-18th century. An overview of imperial terminology and British tactics for maintaining power are discussed alongside the major population changes and the Atlantic slave trade.

The content is tailored for a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 3

Today we are excited to release the third episode of A Very Brief Introduction to the British Empire, highlighting colonisation in the Indian Ocean.

Historian Olivia Durand takes a longer view of the concept of ‘exploration’, explaining how the Indian Ocean and South Asia in general has a long history of different explorers, travelling east to west, as well as west to east. Contextualising the larger cultural context of the region alongside the movements of different empires, this lecture outlines the tactics of the East India Company and its traders as they waged war and conquered land on the Indian Peninsula. Approximate time period covered is 1500 – 1800 BCE.

The content for this episode is based on a public lecture given in a local pub in the city of Oxford, back in November 2019. The content is tailored for a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 4

Our first module of the lecture series is complete with the release of our fourth episode, focussing on the Pacific Ocean.

Historian Sean Philips talks about the development of a pan-pacific region in European thought, juxtaposing it with the long history of settlement across the many island nations in the Pacific Ocean. This episode problematises the legacy of James Cook and memories of ‘first encounters’ between Indigenous peoples across the Pacific and European colonisers. It finishes with a brief discussion of decolonisation and the modern impact of European control.

The information is aimed at a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 5

We begin our second module of the lecture series with a detailed overview of British conquest in Asia.

Historian Urvi Khaitan provides a discussion of the establishment of the British Raj after the revolt of 1857 and how British trade concerns led to numerous battles across south and east Asia. The substantial changes brought to ecosystems and economies extended beyond just the Indian Peninsula, affecting all surrounding nations and peoples. The Anglo-Burmese wars, the Opium Wars, and the Great Game are all discussed. It becomes clear that historical divisions introduced by imperial conquest are the basis for many modern tensions we are seeing today, especially in Myanmar, India, and Hong Kong.

The information is aimed at a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 6

We begin our second module of the lecture series with a detailed overview of British conquest in Asia.

Historian Harriet Aldrich takes you through the history of British interaction with the African continent from the 1600s to the First World War. She highlights the importance of geography and maps in how Europeans historically approached the global south, and questions the generalised narrative often used in discussions about the history of a whole continent. The impact of European competition, imperial concerns, and specific individuals like Cecil Rhodes are covered.

The information is aimed at a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 7

We conclude our second module of the lecture series with a detailed overview of British Imperialism during the First World War.

Historian Dr Jack Doyle takes you through the history of anti-colonial rebellion, white nationhood, and 20th-century imperialism.

The information is aimed at a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 8

This is the first episode of our final module of this series: Unmaking Empire?  The last module begins with a lecture on the Inter-war period, providing a comprehensive look at the historical moment often labelled as the ‘height’ of the British Empire. Yet, when you look deeper into the structure of the empire in this period, you begin to see the cracks in power that had begun to form across the globe.

Historian Jan Tattenberg provides an enlightening overview of these cracks, from Irish resistance and Indian independence movements, to the brutal suppressions orchestrated by British officials in their attempts to maintain a grasp on their place in the world order. The content for this episode is based on a lecture live-streamed on our Facebook page. The information is aimed at a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.


Episode 9

Content Warning: This episode contains graphic references to colonial violence.

In this special episode of ‘A Very Brief Introduction to the British Empire’, we invite Professor Gerry Kearns of Maynooth University to provide an important outline on the life of Roger Casement, and the legacy of his work documenting imperial atrocities, challenging British colonial rule and in his efforts to argue and fight for Irish independence. The content for this episode is based on a lecture live-streamed on our Facebook page. The information is aimed at a non-specialist audience who is interested in learning more about the legacies of the British Empire.

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