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Tuesday, 27 March 2012, 6:00PM
Museum of London

Decolonization: The End of Empire?

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA

European empires, re-divided after the defeat of Germany in 1918, continued to expand after the First World War, reaching their greatest extent in the early 1940s. The imperial ambitions of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany created new empires that turned out to be very short-lived. With the emergence of the Cold War came a bipolar world dominated by two anti-colonial powers, the USA and USSR. Nationalism in the colonies grew apace, spurred by the loss of imperial legitimacy through the genocidal rule of Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe. Other European powers now began to feel that empire was unjustifiable following an immensely costly war that ended with human rights being enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Japanese rule over many European colonies in the Pacific severed ties with the imperial power and destroyed the legitimacy of empire. Once one major colony, such as India, gained independence, the momentum for others to follow became unstoppable. The lecture concludes by examining the legacy of empire in a post-colonial world. Have we escaped its influence or is it still with us?

This is a part of the lecture series The Rise and Fall of European Empires from the 16th to the 20th Century.

professor-sir-richard-evans-fba

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA is Provost of Gresham College. He is a world-renowned historian and academic, with many of his books now acknowledged as seminal works in the field of modern history. He was Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge from 2008 until his retirement in September 2014. 

In 2012 Sir Richard was appointed Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to scholarship. In 2014 he was awarded the Historical Association’s Norton Medlicott Medal for his ‘outstanding contribution to History’, particularly through his ‘significant’ and ‘robust’ engagement in recent national debates about school curriculum reform and about the teaching and commemoration of the First World War. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1993, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 1978 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 2001. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa by London University in 2013.

Sir Richard has published 18 books as author and seven as editor. In 2008 he published the third part of his monumental large-scale history of the Third Reich, The Third Reich at War, which completed the series of The Coming of the Third Reich (2003) and The Third Reich in Power (2005). The series has sold more than 250,000 copies in English and has been translated into twelve foreign languages. His most recent book, Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals in History, was published to wide acclaim in January 2014. Prior to this his key publications include: Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and the European Continent (2009), Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History, and the David Irving Trial (2002), In Defence of History (1997), Rituals of Retribution (1996) and Death in Hamburg (1987), which won the Wolfson Foundation History Prize.

Sir Richard has a strong public engagement as an historian, including acting as principal expert witness in the David Irving libel trial before the High Court in London in 2000. He is currently Deputy Chair of the Spoliation Advisory Panel, a non-departmental public body which advises on claims for the return from public museums and galleries in the UK of artworks looted during the Nazi era.

Sir Richard has lectured extensively all over the world at a variety of literary festivals and events. He has been Editor of the Journal of Contemporary History since 1998 and a judge of the Wolfson History Prize since 1993.

He is a frequent contributor to the broadcast media and the press. His appearances on British television include BBC 1 (Sunday Politics with Andrew Neill) and Channel 4 News. His appearances on British Radio include BBC Radio 4 (Start the Week, In Our Time, Today and World at One), Radio 3 (Nightwaves) and Radio 2 (John Dunn Show). He has also appeared widely television and radio outside the UK, most notably on North German Radio/Television, West German Radio/Television and Radio Multikulti Berlin.

Sir Richard was Gresham Professor of Rhetoric between 2009 and 2013. His series of lectures were as follows:

2012/13 The Great Plagues: Epidemics in History from the Middle Ages to the Present Day
2011/12 The Rise and Fall of European Empires from the 16th to the 20th Century
2010/11 The Victorians: Culture and Experience in Britain, Europe and the World, 1815-1914
2009/10 War and Peace in Europe: From Napoleon to the Kaiser

Previously, he delivered two series of lectures as Visiting Professor of History.

All of Professor Evans' past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

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27 March 2012

Decolonization: The End of Empire?
Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA

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