Centre for Imperial and Post Colonial Studies

India, transfer of power

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

On 20 January 2015, the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies will be collaborating with the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies in the hosting of an international interdisciplinary workshop entitled ‘Rethinking Eighteenth Century Empires’. The workshop will consist of panels on the following themes: ‘The China trade and the History of the Senses’; ‘Other Eighteenth Century Empires: Sovereignty and Representation’; and ‘Writing Enlightenment Empires/Empires of Eighteenth-Century Literature.’ Contributors include staff and graduate students from Southampton, Winchester School of Art, the University of Lorraine, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Potsdam.

The Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies will be supporting and participating in a season of events in connection with the university’s choice of Jeremy Paxman’s Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British (Viking, 2011) for its One Book One Southampton (OBOS) initiative. For general information about the initiative, news of events and downloadable discussions of the content of the book recorded by colleagues from the Centre, see http://blog.soton.ac.uk/onebook/. The Centre is also participating in the judging of a university-wide competition entitled ‘Empire: What is it good for?’ Students from around the university are invited to submit responses to Jeremy Paxman’s book, with a first prize of £350 for the best entry. For more information see http://blog.soton.ac.uk/onebook/competition/

On Friday 19 June 2015, the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies will be holding a one-day workshop at the University of Southampton titled Probing the Postcolonial.  The aim of the workshop is to bring together colleagues and PhD students who are invested in the field of postcolonial studies. The workshop is for those working within and across history and literature in Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Reading and Southampton (The South West and Wales Doctoral Training Programme Consortium Universities).  Please see Useful Downloads for a programme of this event.

On Saturday 20 June 2015, as part of the OBOS season, the Centre will be holding a Lifelong Learning study day on The Great War and the European Empires.  The event will comprise six illustrated lectures from established authorities in the field, exploring the effects of the conflict upon the French, Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and British empires, with opportunities for Q&A after each lecture, and a closing Q&A roundtable.  The aim of the day is to think comparatively since most European empires were destroyed or seriously weakened by the war.  The study day will take place in Lecture Theatre C, building 65 (Avenue Campus).  The event is free, but places are limited.  Please register at go.soton.ac.uk/652

Recent News


The Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies has been awarded $16,000 by the Religion and International Affairs Program of the Henry Luce Foundation in New York. The grant will fund a two-day workshop involving the ten contributors to a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of American Studies on the theme: 'Towards a global history of American evangelicalism'. The workshop, to be hosted by the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, Netherlands, will involve a systematic 'group-review-and-edit' of draft articles submitted for the special issue. The editors of the special issue will be Professor Kendrick Oliver (Southampton), Dr. Hans Krabbendam (Roosevelt Study Center), Dr. Uta Balbier (King's College London) and Professor Axel Schäfer (Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz). Four of the ten contributors are based in the United States, three in continental Europe, and three in the UK. The special issue arises out of an international conference, organized by Kendrick Oliver and hosted by CIPCS at Southampton, in April 2014. Publication of the special issue will be accompanied by a range of outreach activities. CIPCS expresses gratitude to the Henry Luce Foundation for its generous support of this project.

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’.

On Friday 20 June, two University of Southampton graduate students, Alex Ferguson and Rakesh Anjit, and Zinovia Lialiouti, postdoctoral researcher at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, presented their work at the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) conference in Lexington, Kentucky. Chaired by Professor David Mayers of Boston University, their panel explored the influence of American diplomats on U.S. policy and events on the ground in early Cold War Indochina, India and Greece. Successful applications for funding from the faculty, the Royal Historical Society and SHAFR helped defray the cost of their trip.

On 23-25 April 2014, the Centre hosted a conference entitled ‘Towards the Ends of the Earth: Exploring the Global History of American Evangelicalism, 1840-2010'. The conference was co-organized with the David Bruce Centre for American Studies (Keele University), the Institute for North American Studies (KCL) and the Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, the Netherlands. Speakers included Melani McAlister (George Washington University), Brandi Hughes (University of Michigan), Heather Curtis (Tufts University), Axel Schafer (Keele University), David Swartz (Asbury University), and Markku Ruotsila (University of Helsinki).  'The Journal of American Studies will be publishing a special issue of articles drawn from the conference in 2016'.

On 30 November 2013, the Centre hosted a one-day workshop entitled ‘‘Crossroads of Empire': Latin America, the South Atlantic and the British Empire in the long nineteenth century'. Scholars increasingly acknowledge the profound connections that existed between Europe and South America in the nineteenth century: economically, culturally, and politically. This workshop explored the various ways in which colonies and newly independent states in this Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking region, as well as its contiguous maritime spaces, interacted with Britain and its global empire in the long nineteenth century. Speakers included Matthew Brown (University of Bristol), Helen Cowie (University of York), Mark Thumer (University of Florida) and Trevor Boyns (Cardiff University).

Dr. Priti Mishra was awarded one of six Fung Global Fellowships at the University of Princeton 2013-14. She will be working on the broad theme of the intersection of language and authority and finishing her book manuscript, Vernacular Homeland: Language and Territory in Colonial Eastern India, which explores the myriad labours performed by Indian regional vernaculars in the making of the Indian nation.

On 5 June 2013, the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies and the Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research held a special joint seminar featuring a paper by Professor Suzanne Marchand (Louisiana State University) on the subject of ‘Appreciating the Art of Others: Josef Strzygowski and the Origins of Anti-Imperial Art History'.

On 19 February 2013, the Centre hosted a seminar on ‘Museums and Empire,' to mark the publication of Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience, ed. Sarah Longair and John McAleer (Manchester University Press). Sarah Longair (British Museum) and John McAleer (Southampton) introduced their book, followed by comments from Edward Chaney, Stephanie Jones, Stephanie Moser and Chris Prior and general discussion from an audience of over 60 people. An audio recording of the talk by Sarah Longair and John McAleer can be accessed via the link top-right.


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).
Email: d.s.brown@soton.ac.uk

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

Dr Claire Eldridge (French)
Research interests include colonial and postcolonial French history and memory, particularly the relationships between empire, migration, and memory - focusing on the cultural and commemorative legacies of the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62) within the pied-noir and harki communities. Author of ‘Remembering the Other: postcolonial perspectives on interfaith interaction between Jews and Muslims in French Algeria', Modern Jewish Studies, 11.3 (November 2012).
Email: c.eldridge@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: s.j.jones@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: j.mcaleer@soton.ac.uk

Dr Jane McDermid (History)
Research interests include 18th and 19th century British women's history, including women in the Empire. Author of ‘Home and away: a Scottish schoolmistress in colonial Australia and lowland Scotland in the second half of the nineteenth century,' History of Education Quarterly, 51, (1), (2011).
Email: j.mcdermid@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: priti.mishra@soton.ac.uk

Dr James Morgan (Honorary Research Fellow, History)
Author of Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism (2014)
Email: jgmorgan100@yahoo.co.uk

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).
Email: s.c.morton@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: ko@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: c.petley@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: rprimorac@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: c.prior@soton.ac.uk

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).
Email: s.singh@soton.ac.uk

Professor Adrian Smith (History)
Research interests include sport, cinema and the British empire, Lord Mountbatten and modern biography. Author of Mountbatten: apprentice war lord (2010).
Email: as5@southampton.ac.uk

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).
Email: iat@soton.ac.uk

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: c.watts@soton.ac.uk Web: http://soton.academia.edu/CarlWatts

Professor Chris Woolgar
Research interests include the history of food, archives and the Duke of Wellington. Editor of Wellington Studies IV (2008).
Email: c.w.woolgar@soton.ac.uk

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