The University of Southampton
(023) 8059 4155

Dr Christopher Prior 

Lecturer in 20th Century History, Outreach Officer

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Dr Christopher Prior is a Lecturer in 20th Century History at the University of Southampton.

I am a historian of Britain and the British Empire in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I studied History at Durham, completing a PhD in Imperial and African History there under the supervision of Professor Justin Willis. Before joining Southampton, I taught at Durham, Leeds and University College Dublin. I am primarily interested in the socio-cultural and intellectual connections between Britain and the colonies within the British Empire, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa.

Exporting empire cover
Edwardian England cover





Research interests

I have two principal areas of interest.

Firstly, I am interested in the colonial state in Africa. In particular, I am concerned with manifestations of colonial rule at a local level in sub-Saharan Africa, and the interactions between colonial administrations and Africans. This interest was the basis for my first monograph, Exporting Empire: Africa, colonial officials and the construction of the British imperial state, c.1900-1939, which considers the role that metropolitan ideas of governance, race, duty, esprit de corps, and empire had on the ways colonial state rule played out on the ground. Drawing on an extensive range of hitherto under-explored collections of personal papers, the study provides an account of imperial rule on the ground, concerning itself with the rank and file ‘men on the spot' away from the colonial centres.

I am also interested in the connections between empire and home, in particular the roles that the former played in shaping political and cultural life in the former. This led to my second monograph, Edwardian England and the Ideal of Racial Decline, which considers the extent to which the English middle classes were or were not stricken by a sense of crisis in the wake of the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899 to 1902.

Publications listed below:



Book Chapter

I currently teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses on the history of empire and Africa from 1850 to the present day:

HIST1125: When An Empire Falls: Culture and the British Empire, 1914-1960

HIST2082: Nelson Mandela: A South African Life

HIST3180 and HIST3181: The Rise and Fall of the British Empire in Africa Conquest, Colony, and Rebellion, c.1870-1960

HIST6098: Histories of Britain and Empire

I would welcome enquiries from graduate students interested in studying sub-Saharan African history, particularly regarding the period c.1870-c.1960. I would also welcome graduates interested in race, ethnicity and immigration in the empire and Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More broadly, I would welcome hearing from those interested in British socio-cultural and intellectual life from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present day.

Dr Christopher Prior
Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number:65/1047

Telephone:(023) 8059 4155

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