Richard J. Evans discusses decolonisation in the 20th century, and questions whether it was the end of empire. European empires, re-divided after the defeat of Germany in 1918, continued to expand after the First World War, reaching their greatestextent in the early 1940s. The imperial ambitions of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany created new empires that turned out to be very short-lived. With the emergence of the Cold War came a bipolar world dominated by two anti-colonial powers, the USA and USSR. Nationalism in the colonies grew apace, spurred by the loss of imperial legitimacy through the genocidal rule of Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe. Other European powers now began to feel that empire was unjustifiable following an immensely costly war that ended with human rights being enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Japanese rule over many European colonies in the Pacific severed ties with the imperial power and destroyed the legitimacy of empire. Once one major colony, such as India, gained independence, the momentum for others to follow became unstoppable. The lecture concludes by examining the legacy of empire in a post-colonial world. Have we escaped its influence or is it still with us? For download and transcript versions of this lecture, please visit the event's page on the Gresham College website: Decolonisation - The End of Empire?"
Professor Sir Richard J. Evans FBA
Professor Richard J. Evans FBA is Regius
Professor of Modern History and President of Wolfson College at the University
has lectured extensively all over the world at a variety of literary festivals
and events, is widely published and is a frequent contributor to the broadcast
media and the press.
He has been Editor of theJournal
of Contemporary Historysince
1998 and a judge of the Wolfson Literary Award for History since 1993.
His most recent publication was the third volume of his monumental large-scale
history of the Third Reich,The Third Reich at War, which was
published in 2008.
Evans's area of research interest lies predominantly in German history,
especially social and cultural history, since the mid-nineteenth century.
He has worked on movements of emancipation and liberation, including the
feminist movement and the labour movement, on social inequality in the urban
environment, and on the social history of death and disease. His work on
the history of crime has involved examining literary discourses and their
interaction with social models of deviance, both those articulated by the
authorities and those lived by deviants themselves. Since acting as
principal expert witness in the David Irving libel trial before the High Court
in London in 2000, his work has dealt with Holocaust denial and the clash of
epistemologies when history enters the courtroom.