Der Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) 1199: “Verräumlichungsprozesse unter Globalisierungsbedingungen” veranstaltet jeden Mittwoch ein Kolloquium über Globalisierungsthemen. Am 18. Januar spricht Prof. Antony Hopkins über „Globalisation and Decolonisation“.
The aim of this presentation is to suggest the need to rethink conventional studies of decolonisation after 1945. Since the 1960s, historians writing about this subject have concentrated on the end of Europe’s formal empires in Africa and Asia, with only occasional sidelong glances elsewhere, principally at the Middle East. Moreover, historians have become divided by the needs of specialisation: those who research decolonisation in Africa typically know little of developments in Asia – and vice versa. The other great body of literature, which deals with the Cold War, is global in scope but remains focussed on high policy and treats decolonisation as a derivative set of events. The argument here is that both decolonisation and the Cold War need to be fitted into an even larger trend, post-colonial globalisation, which marked the beginning of the global relations we know today. This phase was characterised by a profound reshaping of the world economy, the propagation of a universal code of human rights, and the spread of novel international institutions, notably the United Nations. These trends were not confined to formal empires: they spanned the world. Consequently, the boundaries of decolonisation studies also need to be enlarged. The outlines of a wider perspective will be illustrated with reference to China, the British Dominions, and the United States. It is likely that studies of decolonisation published in 2027 will look very different from those available today.
Antony Hopkins currently serves as the Walter Prescott Webb Chair of History at the University of Texas at Austin and is an Emeritus Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History at the University of Cambridge. He has also held a number of visiting positions at different universities including at Princeton, UCLA and Harvard. His research interests include African history, European imperialism, globalization and development issues. Two of his more recent publications Globalization in World History (2002) and Global History: Interactions between the Universal and the Local (2006) look at the history of globalization.