BA (Barnard), MA, PhD (Michigan)
Elizabeth Buettner is Senior Lecturer in Modern British and Imperial History. She works on the social and cultural history of Britain and the empire since the late nineteenth century, and her publications to date have focused on race and ethnicity, migration, class, childhood and the family, gender, personal narratives, heritage and memory, and colonial and postcolonial culture. Her research and teaching interests also encompass French and other European nations’ histories of empire, immigration, and postcolonialism.
Dr Buettner’s research has been funded by the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Royal Historical Society, and the Mellon Foundation. In 2006 she was selected to participate in the International Research Seminar on Decolonization sponsored by the National History Center, Mellon Foundation, and Library of Congress in Washington, DC. She is on the Editorial Board of Women’s History Review and is a member of the ‘Network Postcolonial Germany and Britain’.
Dr Buettner’s book Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India was published by Oxford University Press in 2004. It examines how parents worked to provide their children with selected cultural and class attributes that connoted a highly valued form of British identity during and after their early years spent in a colonial setting.
Unlike parts of the empire targeted for permanent white settlement, in India the British community was characterized by repeated travels to the metropole for schooling, furloughs, and ultimately retirement. As such, the book explores colonial family life as experienced both ‘at home’ and ‘away’; gender-specific strategies for raising children; definitions of racial status; and attitudes towards empire and colonized peoples prevalent among those who often lived and worked in India over several generations without severing ties to Britain. It also analyses how descendants of these ‘Raj’ families have made nostalgic renditions of their individual, ancestral, and national past replete with colonial connections available to a wider public in the postcolonial era.
Alongside articles related to the issues examined in Empire Families, Dr Buettner’s publications also include articles on the Scottish community in late imperial India as well as on memories and material remains of the Raj in Britain and India. She is currently writing a book entitled Europe After Empire: Decolonization, Society, and Culture for Cambridge University Press. This project covers British as well as French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Belgian histories of coming to terms with the end of empire at home with a special emphasis on cultural and social adjustments. Migrations (of ex-colonizers returning home as well as formerly colonized peoples moving to Europe), the re-imagining of national identities in multicultural societies, and the ways empire has been remembered and forgotten in former colonial powers count among its central themes.
She has also begun work on a major new research project, After the Raj: South Asian Culture in Postcolonial Britain, and written about one aspect of this in ‘“Going for an Indian”: South Asian Restaurants and the Limits of Multiculturalism in Britain’, Journal of Modern History 80, no. 4 (2008), pp. 865-901.
Joint Winner, Annual Women’s History Network Book Prize for 2004
Shortlisted for Young Academic Author of the Year, Times Higher Education Supplement Awards 2005
Currently on research leave