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Einar Wigen

Empire was never an important concept in Ottoman politics. This did not stop Ottoman rulers from laying claim to three titles that may be called imperial: halife, hakan, and kayser. Each of these pertains to different translationes imperii, or claims of descent from different empires: the Caliphate, the steppe empires of the Huns, Turks, and Mongols, and the Roman Empire. Each of the three titles was geared toward a specific audience: Muslims, Turkic nomads, and Greek-Orthodox Christians, respectively. In the nineteenth century a new audience emerged as an important source of political legitimacy: European-emergent international society. With it a new political vocabulary was introduced into the Ottoman language. Among those concepts was that of empire, which found its place in Ottoman discourse by connecting it with the existing imperial claims.

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Beware of Bandits!

Banditry and Land Travel in the Roman Empire

Lincoln H. Blumell

This paper considers the perils of travel by focusing on banditry, a conspicuous, yet oft-neglected, feature of the Roman Empire. Appearing at different times and at various locations it was thoroughly entrenched in Roman society and affected both the rich and poor alike. But the primary victim of banditry and the one to whom it posed the greatest threat was the ancient traveller since brigands tended to operate mostly along roads and rural highways in search of prey. The very real danger brigands posed to the ancient traveller can be detected from a number of diverse sources including tombstones on which was inscribed 'killed by bandits'. While the government took some measures to curb and even stamp out banditry, given the administrative and policing handicaps inherent in the Empire it remained fairly widespread.

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Owen White and Elizabeth Heath

This introduction to the dossier “Wine, Economy, and Empire” surveys the place of economic history in the field of French Empire studies over the last twenty years. Drawing upon the concept of “economic life” as defined by William Sewell, the authors argue that a renewed focus on economic activity within the French Empire offers new opportunities to interrogate commonplace ideas about chronology, imperial forms, and structures of power. The article briefly examines some of the specific avenues of inquiry opened by a conception of economic life as socially “embedded,” while highlighting recent works that exemplify the possibilities of this approach for scholars of empire.

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Spanish Imperial Destiny

The Concept of Empire during Early Francoism

Zira Box

The aim of this article is to analyze the meaning of the concept of empire during the first years of the Francoist regime and try to clarify the different meanings that the various political and ideological groups that were part of the dictatorship gave to this concept. As will be explained, it is possible to find two main meanings for the concept of empire. The first one was linked to the notion of Hispanidad and was developed by the Catholic and counter-revolutionary groups; in this case, empire was defined through the Catholic religion and the missionary role that Spain had played in the discovery of America, the moment that marked the beginning of the Spanish Empire. The second meaning was developed inside the Falangist party. It contained fascist values and was linked to an ideal of expansionism that would support specific policies. The aim here is to differentiate these meanings by paying attention to the different contexts in which they were produced.

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Republican Imperialisms

Narrating the History of “Empire” in France, 1885–1900

Christina Carroll

In the 1880s and 1890s, a wave of histories of colonial empire appeared in France. But even though they were produced by members of similar republican colonial advocacy groups, these accounts narrated the history of empire in contradictory ways. Some positioned “colonial empire” as an enterprise with ancient roots, while others treated modern colonization as distinct. Some argued that French colonial empire was a unique enterprise in line with republican ideals, but others insisted that it was a European-wide project that transcended domestic political questions. By tracing the differences between these accounts, this article highlights the flexibility that characterized late nineteenth-century republican understandings of empire. It also points to the ways republican advocates for colonial expansion during this period looked both historically and comparatively to legitimize their visions for empire’s future in France.

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Christian Egander Skov

The article explores the concept of empire, or rige, in the context of a small nation-state with no immediate claim to imperial greatness and with a rooted self-understanding as anything but an empire. It does this by exploring the concept of empire in the far right movement Young Denmark on the basis of a close reading of their imperialist program in the pamphlet Danmark udslettes! from 1918. Rige had been a vague term for the larger Danish polity that originated in a pre-national conceptualization of the polity as a realm. The article suggests that rige-as-realm was translated by the radical right into a concept of empire. In the process it dramatically changed its emphasis, reorienting itself toward a "horizon of expectation". It became a politically loaded battle concept that then entailed a critique against the dominant liberal conceptualization of the polity and nation. Rige came to signify the ambition of being a great power, the spiritual elevation of the nation through the transcendence of the decaying liberal modernity. The program addressed the tension between a conservative political attitude and modernity and thus signified a kind of reactionary modernism that rejected liberal values while at the same time celebrating technology, industrialization, and the process of modernization.

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Empire's salvage heart

Why diversity matters in the global political economy

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

What if those translations across difference that characterize global supply chains were to inspire a model of power and struggle in the contemporary political economy? In contrast to the unified Empire offered by Hardt and Negri, supply chains show us how attention to diversity-and the transformative collaborations it inspires-is key to both identifying what is wrong with the world today and imagining what we can do about it. This article describes a politics in which transformative collaborations across difference form the radical heart of possibility. Nonhumans are involved, as well as people with starkly different backgrounds and agendas. Love might be transformed.

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The Anti-Empire of General de Boigne

Sentimentalism, Love, and Cultural Difference in the Eighteenth Century

William M. Reddy

Sentimentalism became a widely accepted practical code among the educated European elite in the late eighteenth century. In the 1790s, however, it went into rapid decline. One reason is that when Europeans tried to establish families and polities in line with the dictates of sentimentalism, these efforts often ended in failure. A noteworthy example is provided by the career of Benoît Leborgne, later known as Bennett de Boigne, who rose to fame as a soldier of fortune in India, founding a kind of anti-empire in collaboration with Mahadaji Sindhia between 1784 and 1795. The collapse of his state building efforts—and of his marriages—clearly demonstrate the pitfalls of "following one's heart" in the eighteenth-century manner.

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The Longue Durée of Empire

Toward a Comparative Semantics of a Key Concept in Modern European History

Jörn Leonhard

Against the background of a new interest in empires past and present and an inflation of the concept in modern political language and beyond, the article first looks at the use of the concept as an analytical marker in historical and current interpretations of empires. With a focus on Western European cases, the concrete semantics of empire as a key concept in modern European history is analyzed, combining a reconstruction of some diachronic trends with synchronic differentiations.

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The “Moral Effect” of Legalized Lawlessness

Violence in Britain’s Twentieth-Century Empire

Caroline Elkins

From 1930s Palestine to Kenya in the years following World War II, systematized violence shaped and defined much of Britain’s twentieth-century empire. Liberal authoritarianism, and with it the “moral effect” that coercion had upon colonial subjects, gave rise to the systematic use of violence against colonial subjects. The ideological roots of these tactics can be located in the twinned birth of liberalism and imperialism, together with metropolitan responses to imperial events in the mid-nineteenth century. Despite copious amounts of empirical evidence documenting the evolution of liberal authoritarianism, and the creation and deployment of legalized lawlessness throughout the British Empire, Steven Pinker either ignores this evidence, or implicitly denies its validity. In reframing Britain’s civilizing mission, and challenging liberalism’s obfuscating abilities, this article critiques not only the British government’s repeated denials of systematized violence in its empire, but also Pinker’s reinforcement of the myths of British imperial benevolence.