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Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent

Poster of research event

Wednesday 3 March 2021, 12.00PM to 1:30 PM

Speaker(s): Professor Priyamvada Gopal

Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom. Priyamvada Gopal examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies, from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire.

Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Insurgent Empire sets the record straight in demonstrating that these people were much more than victims of imperialism or, subsequently, the passive beneficiaries of an enlightened British conscience—they were insurgents whose legacies shaped and benefited the nation that once oppressed them.

Professor Gopal is Professor of Postcolonial Studies in the Faculty of English, Cambridge University and a Teaching Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. As well as colonial and postcolonial studies, Prof. Gopal’s related interests include the novel, South Asian literature, critical race studies and the politics and cultures of empire and globalisation. Her published work includes Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence (Routledge, 2005),  After Iraq: Reframing Postcolonial Studies (Special issue of New Formations co-edited with Neil Lazarus), The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration (Oxford University Press, 2009) and, most recently, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent (Verso, 2020). Her work has also appeared in The Hindu, Outlook India, India Today, The Independent, The New Statesman, The Guardian and The Nation (USA). Priyamvada Gopal has also contributed occasionally to the BBC's Start the Week and Newsnight as well as programmes on NDTV-India,  Al-Jazeera, National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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Location: Virtual via Zoom

Admission: Free, All welcome