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The University of Southampton
Centre for Imperial and Post Colonial Studies

Postgraduate Studies

The Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies encourages the participation of postgraduate researchers in its activities and can provide funding to support postgraduate workshops and other events.

On 19 June 2015, the Centre hosted a one-day workshop entitled 'Probing the Postcolonial'. This was aimed at bringing together staff and postgraduate 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.

On 20 July 2016, the Centre hosted a one-day postgraduate conference on the theme: 'Our man on the spot': Reassessing the 'imperial periphery'. The conference, organized by Southampton History PhD student Joseph Higgins, brought together postgraduate and early career researchers from across the UK to consider the significance of the imperial periphery to the understanding of empires and imperial rule. The fourteen papers ranged richly in focus from the BBC’s reporting of African decolonization, the press management techniques of the US embassy in Saigon, the agency of imperial subjects within the Russian empire, the use of indigenous knowledge by the special correspondents of British newspapers stationed on the imperial periphery, representations of speechlessness and illiteracy in accounts of Australian aboriginal culture, the use of drama by the Pukhtun movement to challenges the torture and injustice of the British Raj, the role of British agricultural officials in East Africa after the end of empire; and the response of New Zealanders to the 1920s empire-wide campaign to raise money to conserve the HMS Victory.



Our Man on the Spot
Postgraduate Conference 'Our Man on the Spot'

Our students

Alex Ferguson, PhD Student in History, was 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'.

Joseph Higgins, ‘The Federal Panacea: South Arabia, Imperial Networks and British Intellectual Tradition’ (PhD thesis in progress)

My thesis examines the use of federalism as a means to decolonise the British Empire, with a particular focus on intellectual origins of the South Arabian Federation (part of what is now Yemen). I seek to compare the development and evolution of federal ideas in the SAF to earlier federal systems through the networks of ‘federalists’ that operated ‘on the spot’ and in Whitehall; assessing their influence on decision makers. Furthermore my thesis will investigate the link between the federalist narrative of the 1950s and 1960s with advocates of ‘Imperial Federation’ of the late Victorian and Edwardian era. In doing so, I hope to assess the strength, pervasiveness and influence of intellectual tradition on policy development, state-building and decision making during the decline of the British Empire.


Rob Joy – British Agricultural Officers in the transition to an independent East Africa (PhD thesis in progress)

My research aims to understand the role of British Agricultural Officers during the shift to Independence in East Africa, in particular the attitudes towards their new political masters and colleagues, policy changes, and their perceptions of the role of the British and international development agencies in these post-colonial nations. The thesis will explore how agricultural staff who ‘stayed on’ adapted to new policies and how far new or traditional methods of land use employed by the African leaders contrasted with officials own understanding of agricultural practices; alongside this will be investigation of whether ethnic divides exacerbated by colonial intervention – the Banyoro and Baganda of Uganda, for instance – were maintained or addressed by African governments and how this impacted British officials. The study aims to uncover to what extent an imperial mind-set may have been maintained, adapted or abandoned and how – given the numbers of officials who departed for international development organisations - those who remained may have demonstrated any preference towards particular developmental approaches to their field.


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