Expert on Colonialism joins University of Bristol
Press release issued: 24 October 2005
The British Empire, at its height, included territories on all continents and was the largest empire history has ever known, comprising about one quarter of the world's population and area. To help understand its continuing impact on the world today, the University of Bristol has appointed an internationally renowned expert in Colonialism, Professor Stephen Howe, Chair in History and Cultures of Colonialism.
Professor Howe, formerly of Ruskin College, Oxford, took up his post earlier last month within the Department of Historical Studies. His research will look at the history of ideas and ideologies of 'empire', its aftermaths and legacies, concentrating on British imperial history, including its role in domestic British politics.
Working closely with Bristol's Empire and Commonwealth Museum he will also be furthering the activities of the innovative new Centre for the Study of Colonial and Postcolonial Societies.
Professor Howe said: "Colonialism has very powerful implications for thinking about our present and future. Whether people are calling for a reappraisal of Britain's imperial past, as major public figures like Trevor Phillips or Gordon Brown have recently been doing, or arguing over whether America's world role today makes it a 'new empire', debate about the colonial past keeps throwing up crucial issues for today.
"Studying and debating colonialism is the most globalised intellectual pursuit one can imagine. But it's also one with strong links to Bristol's own past, which will be highlighted in forthcoming commemoration of the Atlantic slave trade and its abolition in 1807-8.
"Many British, American and other universities have in recent years established new centres, postgraduate courses and so on, on colonialism and related themes. But I know of nowhere else involving such a range of people, of expertise and of interests as here. I think that together we can make Bristol a real world leader in this field."
Professor Howe has previously worked as a political journalist and organiser. His books include Afrocentrism (1998), Ireland and Empire (2000) and Empire: a very short introduction (2002). He's currently completing two closely interlinked works on The Intellectual Consequences of Decolonisation and Anticolonial Thinkers, and working on a study of the 'politics of historical memory' in relation to late-colonial violence.