Blog Archives

When the Raj Came to Brighton

In the early stages of World War I, the Raj came to the south coast of England in the form of over 4,000 wounded Indian soldiers. They convalesced in a number of specially constructed hospitals, including in the Brighton Pavilion.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Uncategorized

The Debate on British Colonialism

Alan Lester Colonial Realities Colonialism is, by its very nature, incompatible with many of the ideals of justice that we hold dear today. The definition of the word, according to the Oxford Online Dictionary, is “the policy or practice of

Posted in Uncategorized

On Colonialism: A Response to Nigel Biggar’s Reply

The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History has recently published my Extended Critique of Nigel Biggar’s book Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning. Prof. Biggar’s Reply was published alongside it. Like his history of colonialism, Biggar’s reply has unorthodox features, some of

Posted in Uncategorized

Indians in Eastern Africa: Sir Henry Bartle Frere’s Vision and the Networks of Empire*

The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former and current Home Secretaries Priti Patel and Suella Braverman are all second generation Indian East Africans. Families like theirs acquired a precarious status, subordinate to White settlers and officials but elevated above

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

What are the British Empire’s “Legacies”?

Before he became a beleaguered Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng wrote that “generations of politicians, historians and campaigners have made the British empire in their own image, promoting it as a vehicle for whatever cause they happen to espouse”. Since then, his

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

The War on Woke is 200 years Old

One of the Brexit populists’ most successful political strategies, played out in the recent Tory leadership contest, has been culture war: an assault on reformist and liberal agendas including anti-racism, that are now condemned as “woke”. With Suella Braverman Priti

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Uncategorized

Where is Empathy in the Empire Culture War?

The problem with making the history of the British empire a weapon in a divisive culture war is its omission of empathy. Conservatives, exemplified by The Telegraph’s editorial line, feel that radical activists are determined to see Empire as an

Posted in Uncategorized

Nadhim Zahawi and the Iraqi Civil Service: a benefit of empire we should teach our kids?

The Education secretary has now joined the Equalities Minister, arguing that the ‘positives’ of the British Empire should be taught to British schoolchildren. As if they haven’t been taught to us all for the last one hundred years. Nadhim Zahawi’s

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized

The British Empire and Race: A Debate with Robert Tombs

Alan Lester Background: On 9th January 2022, Robert Tombs, Emeritus Professor of French History at the University of Cambridge and myself debated the legacies of the British empire, all too briefly, on the GB TV News Channel’s The Debate programme.

Posted in Uncategorized

History Reclaimed – But From What?

A group of scholars including Andrew Roberts, Robert Tombs, Zareer Masani and the ubiquitous Nigel Biggar, has banded together to create the History Reclaimed Project. It consists at present of a website and social media presence that aims to rescue

Tagged with:
Posted in Uncategorized