Spring 2021

Race and Empire: The British Experience from 1760

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-231  |  History, as HIST-231


Ellen R. Boucher (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 231 [EU, TE, TS] and EUST 231) From the mid-eighteenth century through the 1960s, Britain presided over the most powerful empire in the world. At its height, this small island nation ruled one-quarter of the earth’s surface and more than 450 million of its inhabitants. Not only did British imperialism play a decisive role in shaping world politics, economics, and cultures in its day, it also left a number of profound legacies that continue to affect our lives in the present. This course traces the rise, fall, and lasting influence of the British empire, and pays particular attention to questions of race and ethnicity. Through a series of colonial encounters--such as the first contacts made between explorers and Pacific Islanders in the  eighteenth century, the interactions between missionaries and Africans in the nineteenth century, or the migration of South Asians to Britain in the twentieth century--it examines what “race” meant in different historical contexts. The course thus explores the institutionalization of racism in government, law, and society, and analyzes moments in which racism has been combated and overturned. Readings and course materials will be drawn from secondary and primary sources, including newspapers, novels, photographs, artwork, oral histories, and films. Class sessions will combine synchronous and asynchronous instruction and make use of zoom breakout rooms to facilitate small group discussion and peer review.

 Spring semester. Enrollment limited to 18 students. Professor Boucher.

If Overenrolled: Preference given first to history majors and then by seniority.


Attention to Issues of Race


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2016, Spring 2021