HIS 350L • Decolonization of the British Empire-W
This seminar is designed as a reading and research course in modern British history and in the history of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Above all it is a class in professional writing that fulfills the requirement for the substantial writing component for the B.A. The transformation from the European colonial empires into sovereign nations is one of the great themes in the modern history of the world. Originally in 1945 there were 50 members of the United Nations, today there are 191. This seminar devotes attention to a vital component of decolonization by focusing on the end of the British Empire, which at the end of World War II still extended over one fourth of the world and represented a complex, worldwide system including territories acquired during every stage of colonization since the sixteenth century.
The main requirement of the course is a research paper focusing on one of the three components of British decolonization: the decisions made in Britain itself; the international influence of the United and the United Nations in the context of the Cold War; and the initiatives by nationalists in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. The paper in its final form will be about 6,000 words or 20 double spaced pages including notes. The substantial writing requirement will be fulfilled in two ways. First, drafts of each of the papers will be circulated to all members of the class who make annotations on style as well as substance. The second stage is for each writer to take note of the critiques offered by others and to rewrite the paper for final submission. The principal primary source on which the papers will be based is the extraordinary archival collection in British Documents on the End of Empire (BDEEP). The class sessions will be enriched by a film series produced by Granada Television entitled 'End of Empire'. In a general way, the seminar upholds the principles of the Modern History Faculty at Oxford_to enhance (1) intellectual curiosity, (2) conceptual clarity; (3) flexibility, that is the capacity to engage with alternative perspectives and new information; (4) accuracy and attention to detail; (5) critical engagement; (6) capacity for hard work (7) enthusiasm for history, literature, and politics; and (8) historical imagination and understanding, that is the ability to speculate and compare, alongside the possession of appropriate historical knowledge and the capacity to deploy it.
John Darwin, Britain and Decolonisation: The Retreat from Empire in the Post-War World; and W. David McIntyre, British Decolonization, 1946-1997: When, Why and How did the British Empire Fall? Plus these articles: Ronald Hyam, "The British Empire in the Edwardian Era" D. A. Low, The Asian Mirror to Tropical Africa's Independence_ W. R. Louis and R. E. Robinson, The Imperialism of Decolonization_ Toyin Falola and A. D. Roberts, West Africa_ A. G. Hopkins, Development and the Utopian Ideal