Empire – Histories and Legacies
Britain – and Europe more generally – is in denial of its colonial and imperial past. There is little recognition of that past, for example, in public debates on contemporary global social, economic, and political issues. Some argue that, in any case, domination of others through empire is by no means exclusive to Europe: should we not also talk about the Romans or the Ottomans?
This talk will argue that there is something distinctive about European empires, specifically a distinct form of domination through the extraction of resources – including of labour through enslavement and indenture, and of land through dispossession – creating a legacy of wealth and property that continues to advantage European societies even after empire. For example, the end of slavery
involved the compensation of slave owners for their loss of ‘property’ and no compensation for those enslaved for their loss of liberty and the extraction of their labour. The bond raised on British (national and colonial) tax payers for this compensation was not paid off until 2015. The wealth of those compensated continues to define British society through inheritance and corporate and land ownership. This talk will put forward the case for a different type of reparative action to redress inequality.
Booking is advised on 01492 868191 or by calling into the gallery.