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Centre for Imperial and Post Colonial Studies

The seven leaders accept the plan for the transfer of power, 3 June 1947. Image courtesy of the Broadlands archive
India, transfer of power


The Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies (CIPCS) was founded in 2006 to bring together a wide range of research interests from staff in History and other disciplines in Humanities at the University of Southampton. It provides a multi and increasingly inter-disciplinary research culture for academics and postgraduates working in the fields of Anglophone and non-Anglophone imperial and post-colonial studies. The Centre hosts research seminars, workshops and conferences as well as providing specialist expertise in postgraduate teaching and supervision.


The Centre benefits from the Special Collections in the Hartley Library. The Library is home to the papers of the Duke of Wellington, Lord Palmerston (including the journals of Lord Shaftesbury) and Earl Mountbatten. It also contains a comprehensive run of British Parliamentary Papers. These archival materials, together with the Oates collection of books and ephemera relating to slavery in the Caribbean, provide a unique resource for research around themes in colonial history relating to decolonization, migration, diaspora, identities, and diplomatic history.


The centre was formally launched in July 2007 with a major international conference on the theme ‘The Independence of India and Pakistan: Sixtieth Anniversary Reflections.'

Forthcoming Events

The journal Atlantic Studies will soon be publishing a special issue resulting from a workshop hosted by the Centre in November 2013, entitled 'Crossroads of Empire': Latin America, the South Atlantic and the British Empire in the long nineteenth century'. 

Alexander Hamilton's Atlantic World - 16 March 2016, 6pm  Book Now:

Co-sponsored by the Centre for Imperial and Postcolonial Studies and the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

'How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore, and a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?'  So opens Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop musical chronicling the life and death-by-duel of America's first Secretary of the Treasury.  Although historians acknowledge that Hamilton: An American Musical veers at times away from the historical record, it's hard to deny that the show captures the essence of Revolutionary America and the Early Republic-and even harder to ignore that acclaim which the show has won from the public.  This event will be less of a 'Hamilton: True or False' evening, and more of an attempt to place Hamilton's world into a wider Atlantic context.  Come for the songs-and stay to hear about the imperial roots of slavery in the Caribbean, the Native American policy of Philip Schuyler, the supposed  transatlantic love affair between Hamilton and his sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler Church, and the scandalous context that allowed Hamilton to carry on a protracted affair with Maria Reynolds.  Don't throw away your shot by missing the night!

For more details, contact Dr Rachel Herrmann (

Workshops: An Empire of Islands: Concepts, Contexts and Collections

The first of three workshops in the AHRC-funded program 'An Empire of Islands', organised by Dr John McAleer (History, Southampton) and Dr Douglas Hamilton of the University of Winchester, will take place at Southampton on 12 and 13 April 2016.  The second workshop will take place in Winchester on 9 and 10 September 2016.  The third and final workshop will take place in Greenwich in spring 2017.  the meetings will bring together a range of international scholars with the aim of exploring the catalytic roles played by islands in the shaping of modern European empires.  It is hoped that the project as a whole will help to illuminate key issues relating to islands as historical spaces, with active roles in shaping and representing wider imperial contexts.

Recent News

Dr John McAleer (History, Southampton) and Dr Douglas Hamilton of the University of Winchester, have been awarded an AHRC network grant worth £45,000 for a series of workshops on the theme of islands and empire.  The grant will be used to organise and convene workshops in Southampton, Winchester and at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  The meetings will bring together a range of international scholars with the aim of exploring the catalytic roles played by islands in the shaping of modern European empires.  It is hoped that the project as a whole will help to illuminate key issues relating to islands as historical spaces, with active roles in shaping and representing wider imperial contexts.

On 28 October 2015, members of CIPCS met with colleagues from the University of Winchester and the University of Portsmouth to discuss future collaborations in the fields of imperial, post-colonial, maritime and global history.  A series of joint events will begin in 2016.

As a result of a $16,000 grant awarded to the Centre by the Henry Luce Foundation in New York, a two-day workshop on the subject of the global history of American evangelicalism was held from July 13-14, 2015, at the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, Netherlands.

Middleburg Study Centre
Middleburg Study Centre

The purpose of the workshop, organized by Kendrick Oliver of CIPCS and Hans Krabbendam of RSC, was to engage in a detailed collective review of draft essays produced for a special issue of the Journal of American Studies. The workshop involved three contributors from the UK, three from Europe and four from the US, plus Professor John Corrigan, editor of the journal Church History. The special issue is scheduled for submission to the Journal of American Studies in late October 2015. Publication will be attended by public outreach activities. The special issue arose out of an international conference hosted at Southampton by CIPCS in April 2014.

On Saturday 20 June 2015, as part of the University’s ‘Great War/Unknown War’ programme of events, the Centre held a Lifelong Learning study day on The Great War and the European Empires. 40 members of the public heard talks by Claire Eldridge, Neil Gregor, Mark Levene, George Gilbert and Chris Prior on the French, German, Ottoman, Russian and British Empires respectively.

Great War
The Great War and the European Empires Study Day

On 19 June 2015, the Centre hosted a one day workshop entitled 'Probing the Postcolonial'.  This was aimed at bringing together staff and students in history and literature across the Arts and Humanities Research Council South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership consortium. 25 attendees from Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Southampton came together to discuss the current state of postcolonial studies.

Through 2014-15, the Centre took an active part in the new One Book One Southampton initiative. The chosen book was Jeremy Paxman’s Empire, a popular history of the British empire. Christer Petley represented the Centre at regular meetings of the OBOS steering committee, and Chris Prior recorded a series of podcasts, expanding on themes raised in the book, with colleagues in History with relevant research interests. Christer Petley represented History and the Centre at a public lecture by Jeremy Paxman on 4 March 2015 and at the subsequent reception, hosted by the VC. In addition, Stephanie Jones initiated a university wide student essay competition on the theme of empire, which was judged by a small panel including Centre members (Stephanie Jones and Christer Petley).

As part of the empire-themed activities surrounding the One Book initiative, the Centre combined with the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies to invite Professor Catherine Hall to give the annual John Rule memorial lecture. Her talk, ‘Whose Memories? Stories Slaveholders Told’, took place on 25 February 2015 and was hosted by Tom Irvine of SCECS and introduced and chaired by Christer Petley, representing CIPCS. The event was very well attended, filling Lecture Theatre B (capacity 143), and attracting many members of the public.

A number of CIPCS members contributed to a one-day international workshop on the theme of ‘Rethinking Eighteenth-Century Empires’, held at the Highfield Campus on 20 January 2015. Colleagues from across the Faculty of Humanities were joined by visiting scholars from universities in Belfast, Potsdam, and Nancy. The workshop was divided into three roundtable sessions, with speakers offering short ‘position papers’ based on their current research followed by lively discussion and debate. Rachel Herrmann (History) and Christer Petley (History) offered papers on their respective research interests in North America and the Caribbean to the panel on ‘Other Eighteenth-Century Empires: Sovereignty and Representation’, while John McAleer (History) contributed to the panel on ‘The China Trade and the History of the Senses’. The variety of contributions demonstrated the university’s range of research interests and expertise in the field of imperial and post-colonial studies. The event was held under the auspices of the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

On Thursday 20 November, the Centre – in co-operation with the Department of History – hosted a roundtable entitled ‘American Empire: Concepts, Contexts and Comparisons’. The roundtable featured Dr James Morgan (University of Southampton), author of the new book Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), Dr Marc Palen (University of Exeter) and Dr David Sim (University College London).

On Wednesday 15 October 2014, the Centre was pleased to present 'Thomas Glave: An Evening of Readings and Conversation'. Thomas Glave is a writer of essays, short-fiction and poetry whose books include Whose Song? And Other Stories, Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent, The Torturer's Wife and Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh. He is also the editor of the ground-breaking anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles. Glave has been an important voice for LGBT rights in the contemporary Caribbean. He is a professor of English and creative writing at the State University of New York in Binghamton and 2014 Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Hispanic Studies at the University of Warwick. He was in conversation with Professor Stephen Morton (English) and Dr. Christer Petley (History). You can view video of the event (which includes some graphic content) here.

Alex Ferguson PhD Student in History, has been awarded the 2014 Postgraduate Paper Prize, worth £100, by Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HOTCUS).  His paper, delivered at the HOTCUS annual conference at the University of Reading in September, was entitled: 'To Supplement but not to Supplant': Ambassador Donald R. Heath, STEM and Managing the Quiet Americans in French Indochina, 1950-52'.  The HOTCUS Steering Committee commented that the paper 'was clearly written, well structured, used archival material very effectively, and present a fascinating case study of U.S. policymaking in Vietnam in the early 1950s'.

On 16 September 2014, the Centre hosted a day of papers and discussion for imperial and post-colonial historians from the AHRC South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnerships Consortium. Speakers included Padma Anagol (Cardiff), Ved Baruah (Cardiff), Matthew Brown (Bristol), Robert Fletcher (Exeter), John McAleer (Southampton), Marc-William Palen (Exeter), Simon Potter (Bristol), Chris Prior (Southampton), Heike Schmidt (Reading) and Ian Talbot (Southampton).

Dr. James Morgan, who completed his PhD at Southampton, has just published his first book, Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism, with the University of Wisconsin Press.

On 25 and 26 June 2014, the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies, in collaboration with the Parkes Institute, hosted 130 sixth-form students for a highly successful summer school on the theme of ‘War and Resistance’ as part of the university’s ‘Great War: Unknown War’ programme of events. The Summer School covered a range of historical and geographical topics, with a special focus on the First World War. The Summer School gave students a taster of studying Humanities subjects at Southampton with lecture and seminar elements to the sessions, and also included a panel on ‘University Life and Admissions’.


Scholars associated with the centre include:

Dr Rakesh Ankit (Honorary Research Fellow, History)
Author of 'Mountbatten and India, 1948-64,' International History Review (April 2014).

Professor David Brown (History)
Research interests include British political history of the nineteenth century, focusing in particular upon the life and career of Lord Palmerston, British foreign policy and the politics of social reform. Author of Palmerston: A Biography (2010).

Dr Ilyas Chattha (Honorary Research Fellow, History)
Author of Partition and Locality: Violence, Migration, and Development in Gujranwala and Sialkot 1947-1961 (2011).

Dr Rachel Herrmann (History)

Research interests include: food history, Native American history, and the Revolutionary Atlantic.  Author of: 'The "tragicall historie": cannibalism and abundance in colonial Jamestown,' The William and Mary Quarterly, 68 (1) (2011).


Dr Jonathan Hunt (History).  Research interests include postwar international history and U.S. foreign policy; humanitarianism, human rights, and global governance; the postcolonial international system; economic and financial history; and modern science, technology and the environment, namely the nuclear revolution, the information age, and the Authropocene.


Dr Stephanie Jones (English)
Research interests include literary and legal narratives of the Indian Ocean, law and literature; East African literatures, literatures of the South Asian diaspora and postcolonial theory. Author of ‘Literature, geography, law: the life and adventures of Captain John Avery (circa 1709),' Cultural Geographies, 19, (1) (2012).

Dr John McAleer (History)
Research interests include (1) the relationships, interactions and patterns of exchange created by the British Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly in the Indian Ocean world, and the impact of these experiences on both British and colonial societies; (2) museums and the representation of empire. Author of Representing Africa: landscape, exploration and empire in southern Africa, 1780-1870 (2010).

Dr Pritipuspa Mishra (Research Fellow, History)
Research interests include language politics in India, focused particularly on the creation of Orissa Province, 1866-1936. Author of: ‘Beyond powerlessness: institutional life of the vernacular in the making of Modern Orissa (1866-1931),' The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 48, (4) (2001).

Dr James Morgan (Honorary Research Fellow, History)
Author of Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism (2014)

Professor Stephen Morton (English)
Research interests include Anglophone literatures from Canada, South Asia and the Caribbean, postcolonial theory, critical theory, poetics and politics, visual culture and globalisation. Editor of (with Elleke Boehmer) Terror and the postcolonial: a concise companion (2009); author of ‘Fictions of sedition and the framing of Indian revolutionaries in colonial India,' Journal of Commonwealth Literature (2012).

Professor Kendrick Oliver. Director of Centre (History)
Research interests include the Vietnam War; the global history of American evangelicalism; the history of spaceflight; and the history of cosmology . Author of The My Lai massacre in American history and memory (2006) and To touch the face of God: the sacred, the profane and the American space program 1957-1975 (2013).

Dr Christer Petley (History)
Research interests include the history of colonial settlers and slaveholders, particularly the social and cultural history of the Jamaican planter class. Author of Slaveholders in Jamaica: colonial society and culture during the era of abolition (2009).

Dr Ranka Primorac (English)
Research interests include African literatures and cultures (with emphasis on Southern Africa), narrative constructions of space-time, the social functioning of literary fictions, city cultures and texts, new cosmopolitanisms. Author of The Place of Tears: The Novel and Politics in Modern Zimbabwe, (2006).

Dr Chris Prior (History)
Research interests include the British empire in Africa. Author of Exporting Empire: Africa, colonial officials and the construction of the British imperial state, c.1900-1939 (2012).

Dr Charlotte Riley (History)
Research interests include: the Labour Party and empire, aid and development, humanitarianism and domestic politics.

Dr Sujala Singh (English)
Research interests include communalism and Indian partition in literature; children in South Asian literature; terrorism and Indian cinema; literatures of the British diaspora. Author of ‘Postcolonial children: representing the nation in Arundhati Roy, Bapsi Sidhwa and Shyam Selvadurai,' Wasafiri, 41, (2004).

Professor Ian Talbot (History)
Research interests include colonial Punjab, the partition of India and the emergence of Pakistan; refugee resettlement following the partition; the political history of post-Independence Pakistan; religion and violence in South Asia. Author of Pakistan: a new history (2004).

Dr Carl Watts (Honorary Fellow, History)
Research interests: (1) British decolonisation in Africa, especially the Central African Federation and Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence; (2) US foreign policy since 1945, especially towards southern Africa; (3) The Origins of the Falklands War. Author of Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence: an international history (2012).
Email: Web:

Professor Chris Woolgar
Research interests include the history of food, archives and the Duke of Wellington. Editor of Wellington Studies IV (2008).

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attending 'Toward the End of the Earth' conference, April 2014

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