Imperial citizenship in a British world

Authored by: Anne Spry Rush , Charles V. Reed

Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415519724
eBook ISBN: 9780203102015
Adobe ISBN: 9781136237966


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In 2008, the historian John Darwin declared that empires have been ‘the default mode of political organization throughout most of history’ (Darwin 2008). However, for scholars of imperialism and colonialism, the relevance of citizenship studies to empire has not always been obvious. After all, the imperial project was focused on conquest and subjugation, the negation and denial of rights, and the creation of subjects rather than citizens. Surely it was in studying the nation that one could best understand citizenship. But is this the whole story? Around the turn of the millennium, scholars of the British Empire began to approach ideas of the citizen from the perspective of colonial subjects. Their work suggests that modern citizenship developed not only within, but beyond the conceptual boundaries of the nation-state and was linked in complex ways to colonial subjects’ ideas of imperial, as well as national, identity.

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