Imperial History


Empires have been a dominant form for organizing global space and peoples from antiquity to very recent decades - some would argue up to and including the present. Imperial history at Harvard enlists the teaching and scholarly efforts of many departmental colleagues. Our interests range from ancient to contemporary times, and cover diverse territories in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. We employ different methodologies, look for different sources, and ask many different questions. Yet we are all interested in power and hegemony, subalternity and resistance.

Empires challenge us to understand the organization of cultural diversity, the control of space, environment, and language, and the management of loyalties through consent, law, ideology, and violence. We seek to comprehend the mechanisms and processes that enable empires to emerge, adapt, and disappear, leaving some traces behind, but not others. In this effort, we believe that one must be attentive to economic, social, cultural, geographic and legal aspects and issues of gender as well as to change over time, and that one must constantly search for materials that reveal empire’s inner workings, not just from the top down, but also from the bottom up and from the periphery to the center. Finally, we ask what common features empires share, how empires differ among themselves, what is particular about empires as compared to other structures, and how they continue to shape our world.



Spring 2019:

Past Course Offerings in Imperial History:

SOCWORLD 42 The World Wars and Global Transformation, 1900–1950
FRSEMR 43C: Human Rights and the Global South
HIST 13S: Secrets and Lies in European History
HIST 14A: The Medieval Mediterranean: Conflict and Unity, Tradition and Innovation
HIST 72E: The Life and Reign of Catherine the Great
HIST 82F: The Origins of the Cold War: The Yalta Conference (1945)
HIST 1206: Empire, Nation, and Immigration in France since 1870
HIST 1270: Frontiers of Europe: Ukraine since 1500
HIST 1284: Revolutionary Eurasia, 1905–1949
HIST 1623: Japan in the Modern World
HIST 1701: West Africa from 1800 to the Present
HIST 1878A: Ottoman State and Society (1300–1550)
HIST 1882: The Middle East in the Twentieth Century
HIST 1910: The History of Energy
HIST 1911: Pacific History
HIST 1943: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock: Indigenous Political Struggle since 1890
HIST 1952: Mapping History
HIST 1960: The European Union: Achievements and Crises
HIST 1993: Introduction to Digital History
HIST 2400: Readings in Colonial and Revolutionary America: Graduate Proseminar
HIST 2653: Historiography of Modern Japan: Graduate Proseminar
HIST 2480A: The Political Economy of Modern Capitalism: Seminar
HIST 2950A: Approaches to Global History: Seminar
HIST 1457: History of American Capitalism
SOCWORLD 13: Japan in Asia and the World
US 28: Racial Capitalism and Imperialism: The US between the Revolution and the Civil War
FRSEMR 61M: The Silk Road as History, Culture, and Politics
HIST 14E: The Cold War in the Global South
HIST 89J: The United States and China: Opium War to the Present
HIST 97L: What is Atlantic History?
HIST 1039: First Empires: Power and Propaganda in the Ancient World
HIST 1280: History of the Soviet Union, 1917–1991
HIST 1290: The History of the Russian Empire
HIST 1457: History of American Capitalism
HIST 1878B: Ottoman State and Society II (1550–1920)
HIST 1944: Race, Indigeneity, and Empire in the Asia/Pacific Wars, 1898–present
HIST 2271: The Soviet Union: Graduate Proseminar
HIST 2277: Eastern Europe: Peoples and Empires: Graduate Proseminar
HIST 2989: The United States in the World: Graduate Proseminar
HIST 2270: Reformation and the Making of Religious Practice in Britain and Colonial America, c. 1550–1700: Graduate research Seminar
HIST 2480B: The Political Economy of Modern Capitalism: Graduate Seminar