The course explores the concept and form of empire through an engagement with recent European history and various normative theories regarding the effects, operations and functioning of empire. This course content proceeds in the following way. It begins with the American Empire debate which erupted in the mainstream press and scholarly publications to situate the return of the word 'empire' to the scholarly and popular lexicon in the late twentieth century. It combines a narrative historical perspective on European colonial history while exploring different theoretical approaches to understanding empires, what they are and how they function. These approaches will include perspectives from political sociology (such as SN Eisenstadt's The Political Systems of Empires), international relations (Michael Doyle and more recent Network centric IR approaches), and classical and current theories of economic imperialism (going back to Hobson, Schumpeter, and Lenin, but also, more recent Marxist contributions such as David Harvey and Hardt and Negri), and cultural, anthropological and historical perspectives (such as those found under the influence of post-colonial theory). The course will also look at other ways in which the words ‘empire’ and ’imperialism’ have been used as an analytic, such as cultural imperialism in early globalisation theory and Media or corporate empires. The aim of the course is to examine and assess in comparative frame the different kinds of analytical tools that might be applied to the study of empire. In the final section of the course, we return to contemporary debates around the US as a figure of empire, and we examine what might be at stake in these debates, (why empire, why now?). Finally, we explore what empire as a political form or category of analysis contributes to our understanding of global politics.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able
- Assess the extent to which empire as a category of analysis is adequate to describing contemporary global politics and North/South relations;
- Compare and assess different theoretical and normative perspectives on empire;
- Appreciate the potential contribution of postcolonial theory to political theory generally and a normative understanding of empire;
- Have developed some capacity to apply theoretical analysis to empirical cases.
Indicative Assessment500 word essay outline: 10% LO 1, 2, 3 &
3000 word research essay: 60% LO 1 & 4
1500 word short assessments (3 x 500 words) 30% (10% each) LO 2 & 4
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of workshops over 12 weeks; and,
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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