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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Development and the Utopian Ideal, 1960–1999

Development and the Utopian Ideal, 1960–1999

(p.635) 40 Development and the Utopian Ideal, 1960–1999
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

A. G. Hopkins

Oxford University Press

Historiography is retrospective by definition and classificatory by common practice. Its value lies in identifying contours and boundaries, and in enabling observers to view the landscape as a whole. Historiography has pitfalls as well as advantages. The evolution of historical studies is the result of a combination of two related forces: the momentum built up within the scholarly body to find solutions to specific intellectual problems, and the response of scholars to the external influences that have a bearing on their lives. The year 1960 is an appropriate starting-point for this survey because it marks, as well as any single year can, the end of British Empire and the beginning of the era of independence. It became clear that the concept of a ‘traditional society’ was simply the antonym of an assumed modernity. The effect of post-modernist influences on Imperial history is well known, but it should nevertheless be recorded in case it slips from future minds, as many earlier influences have been lost to those of the present. Looking now at the 21st century, it seems reasonable to predict that Imperial history has a future and not just a past.

Keywords:   British Empire, historiography, traditional society, Imperial history, independence, modernity

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