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History after HobsbawmWriting the Past for the Twenty-First Century$
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John H. Arnold, Matthew Hilton, and Jan Rüger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198768784.001.0001

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Postcolonial History as War History in the Twentieth Century

Postcolonial History as War History in the Twentieth Century

(p.259) 14 Postcolonial History as War History in the Twentieth Century
History after Hobsbawm

Yasmin Khan

Oxford University Press

How we think about warfare in the past is intrinsically linked to our political commitments today. Wars have always swept up civilians in their terrors and been linked to famine, exploitation, and misogyny. They have often enhanced relative poverty and, in the past, consolidated empire by suppressing rebellion. Reflecting on Eric Hobsbawm’s engagement with empire and warfare, this chapter considers the ways in which narratives of the two world wars in the twentieth century have tended to centre on Europe and to obscure decolonization. Focusing on the history of the British empire, this chapter argues that examining the fullest implications of warfare in the twentieth century and its ramifications for colonial civilians is a way of understanding the history of Britain’s recent past.

Keywords:   British empire, decolonization, Hobsbawm, warfare, colonial

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