The difficulties of empire: Present, past and future

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Although empire is now an intensely fashionable subject of enquiry, much contemporary comment is relatively uninformed and lacks historical context. This is particularly significant in the light of the United States' purported new imperialism. This article considers the problems faced by those attempting to define empire, whether in the past or the present. It traces the origins of American imperialism to the beginnings of the republic and before, and compares it with the British experience, arguing in all cases for the importance of a wideranging and comparative approach to empire. Finally, it urges historians and political commentators to move beyond a concentration on dead European empires, to look as well at other and at present-day versions of the phenomenon, and to re-examine the overlap between nation and empire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-382
Number of pages16
JournalHistorical Research
Issue number205
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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