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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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Writing Europe into the History of the British Empire

Writing Europe into the History of the British Empire

(p.35) 3 Writing Europe into the History of the British Empire
History after Hobsbawm

Jan Rüger

Oxford University Press

How should we think of the relationship between Europe and the British empire? Much of the public debate in the recent past has suggested a clear-cut answer: the empire prevented Britain from being drawn ‘into Europe’; it was thanks to its imperial possessions that the United Kingdom could afford not to play a more active European role. Empire and Europe, in short, presented opposite poles in Britain’s engagement with the world. The essay challenges this widely held assumption. It investigates the many ways in which European and imperial experiences were bound up with each other in British life. By doing so, it explores strategies for writing the British empire into European history and European history into the imperial British past.

Keywords:   Britain, empire, Europe, history, European role

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