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.



Courses 2016 - 2017

Administrating Differences in Latin America: Historical Approaches (HIST 2525A) 

Africa and Africans: The Making of a Continent in the Modern World (SOCWORLD 26)

Approaches to Global History (HIST 2950A)

Asian Diasporas (SOCWORLD 37)

Asian Environments (HIST 2615)

Byzantine Civilization (HIST 1035)

Colonial Latin America (HIST 1520) 

The Economic History of India (SAS 130) 

Empires Compared (HIST 2926) 

First Empires: Power and Propaganda in the Ancient World (HIST 1039)

Frontiers of Europe: Ukraine since 1500 (HIST 1270) 

History of the Russian Empire (HIST 1290)

International Society in Global Context (HIST 2919) 

Japan in Asia and the World (SOCWORLD 13)

The Origins of the Cold War: The Yalta Conference (1945) (HIST 82) 

Regional Study: Sicily (CLS-STDY 112)

Russia in Global Perspective (SOCWORLD 52)

Slavery, Capitalism, and Imperialism: The U.S. in the Nineteenth Century (US-WORLD 28)

Slavery, Commerce and Emancipation in the Age of the French and Haitian Revolutions (HIST 1929) 

Topics in the History of Late Imperial China (CHNSHIS 253) 

US Foreign Policy in a Global Age (HIST 1217) 

What Is Imperial History? (HIST 97E)

The World of the Roman Empire (HIST 1011)

The World of States and Empires (HIST 1022)

The Worlds of Joseph Conrad (HIST 72k)


Courses in Previous Years

Beyond the Great Wall: China and the Nomadic Frontier (SOCWORLD 45) 

British Colonial Violence in the 20th Century (HIST 89A)

The British Empire (SOCWORLD14) 

Eastern Europe: Peoples and Empires (HIST 2277)

Empire, Nation, and Immigration in France since 1870 (HIST 1206)

The Environmental History of South Asia (SAS 230) 

The World Wars and Global Transformation, 1900-1950 (SOCWORLD 42)

The Era of World Wars (Formely SOCWORLD 42)

Europe and the Other(s) (HIST 1925) 

French Colonial Encounters, 1870 to Present (HIST 82d) 

How Historians imagine Latin American Pasts (HIST 1926) 

The Life and Reign of Catherine the Great (HIST 72e) 

Pacific History (HIST 1911) 

Roman Imperialism (HIST 80a) 

Society and Culture of Late Imperial China (CHNSHIS 113)

South Asia: A Global History (SAS 131) 

The World in Modern Times (HIST 1920)