Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Harvard University
The British Empire and its Successors: Forgotten Nationalisms in the Age of Decolonization

This research project, 'The British Empire & its Successors: Forgotten Nationalisms in the Age of Decolonization', presents a new approach to the history of the decolonization and replacement of the British Empire in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, between 1945 and 1970. It offers a work of historical reconstruction that will take readers back to the thought-processes, the planning sessions, and the political battles of the generation after 1945 to show how critical characteristics of the present day 'sovereign nation-state', from its borders, its external relations and international personality, to the idea and the organization of that 'national-sovereignty' itself, were contested by a range of different actors. It will investigate the variety of alternative political forms that were sought by officials in London tasked with planning decolonization, on the one hand, and by colonial politicians and nationalists working with or fighting against them in four of the major sites of British decolonization in the postwar period: Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, and Malaysia. It will approach this topic and period in an entirely new way through focusing the perspectives of a collection of figures who opposed decolonization and advanced alternative nationalisms and even anti- or counter-nationalism in order to achieve a very different range of successors to the retreating British Empire. The study will also cross conventional historical boundaries between empire and independence, showing how these individuals' careers were born in opposition to British decolonization and found their conclusions in opposition to their nationalist successors, in the 1960s. This critical rethinking of the move from empire to independence, in the 'golden age of nationalism', will make a number of broader conceptual interventions relevant to other historical fields such as international and imperial history, as well as broader theoretical debates about nationalism, the 'nation-state', and the politics of post-colonialism.