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A Cultural History of Western Empires

6 Volumes

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in Antiquity

      Volume 1

      Editor(s):

      Carlos F. Noreña, Carlos F. Noreña, Matthew Gabriele, Ania Loomba, Ian Coller, Kirsten McKenzie, Patricia Lorcin

      Written by an expert team of scholars this first volume examines war and resistance, different engines of economic performance and social and geographical mobility in the Mediterranean, slavery and social control, lived experience and the imperial discourses of race and identity, and the geographical and ecological settings in which the cultural histories of the Roman world played out. Together these chapters offer a bold new account of the Roman empire, juxtaposing key topics that are not always considered together under the rubric of “culture.”

      A Cultural History of Western Empires examines the cultural history of ancient Mediterranean empires, and focuses on the Roman empire; the prototypical empire in western history and imagination. A wide-ranging introduction examines the nexus of state-formation and culture in the ancient Mediterranean world, from the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia to the fall of the Roman empire in late antiquity.

      Richly-illustrated with images of monuments, statues, sculptures, mosaics, paintings, coins, and other colorful artefacts of ancient material culture, this volume reveals how the deep structures of imperial power and authority shaped everything from the labour and movements of the Roman empire’s mostly anonymous subjects to their sexualities and consciousness.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Middle Ages

      Volume 2

      Editor(s):

      Matthew Gabriele, Carlos Noreña, Matthew Gabriele, Ania Loomba, Ian Coller, Kirsten McKenzie, Patricia Lorcin

      This volume explores a world that thought deeply about imperial power and emperors but one that perhaps never had an “empire” of its own. These synthetic essays from experts across a wide variety of disciplines mine the intellectual world of this period and begin to demolish the myth of the so-called “Dark Ages,” showing how the European Middle Ages were illuminated by vigorous debates that echo today. The story of medieval Western empires is both familiar and foreign. It is a story about politics, culture, religion, society, gender, sex, and economics, and how porous the boundaries between those categories can often be.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Middle Ages offers a detailed and highly-illustrated account of how we got to where we are, as well as the dangers of not fully understanding why those origins matter.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Renaissance

      Volume 3

      Editor(s):

      Ania Loomba, Carlos Noreña, Matthew Gabriele, Ania Loomba, Ian Coller, Kirsten McKenzie, Patricia Lorcin

      European overseas trade and diplomacy in some parts of the world went hand in hand with colonization and conquest in others areas. As the introduction to this third volume explains, and the eight expertly written chapters assembled here detail, these were not divergent but intricately connected activities. Through detailed attention to Renaissance literature, travel books, political, scientific and commercial writing, they show how European contact with Asia, the Americas and Africa spurred innovations in warfare, seafaring, and accounting. Demanding the creation of international law, and new labour practices at home and abroad, this contact overhauled previous conceptions of nature, race and sexuality and shaped debates on religion, politics, and power. Renaissance culture, in all its diversity and dynamism, was both the midwife of empire and its progeny.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Renaissance offers a new understanding of Renaissance culture, commonly understood as a blooming of arts, literature, philosophy, politics, commerce and science that together marked a high point of Western civilization and laid the foundation stone of modernity. It shows that this “rebirth” is organically connected to the processes by which Spain, the Italian states, France, England, and the Netherlands tried to establish their first overseas empires.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Age of Enlightenment

      Volume 4

      Editor(s):

      Ian Coller, Carlos Noreña, Matthew Gabriele, Ania Loomba, Ian Coller, Kirsten McKenzie, Patricia Lorcin

      This fourth volume explores the intersections and transformations of empire in the late 17th and 18th centuries: an age of “Enlightenment” understood here both as a product of these new forces and as a matrix shaping their emergence and development. As innovative ideas transformed warfare, commerce and agriculture, the great “universal” empires confronted new capitalist forces that both splintered and reinforced imperial relations across the globe. Dutch, English and French trading companies backed by state power increasingly overtook the imperial ascendency of Spain and Portugal, while Ottoman and Russian territorial expansion slowed or halted. Commodities and capital circulated in new ways, along with people and ideas, yet that mobility was hardly a free exchange. The new forces found their first great expression in the global trade in human labour that transformed communities, environments and social relations in Europe, Africa and the Americas.

      Above all, A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Age of Enlightenment reveals the profound imprint left by the Atlantic slave trade on global conceptions of race, sexuality and power, and the burgeoning imperial rivalry, resentment and resistance that contributed to the explosion of revolutionary change at the end of the 18th century.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Age of Empire

      Volume 5

      Editor(s):

      Kirsten McKenzie, Carlos F. Noreña, Matthew Gabriele, Ania Loomba, Ian Coller, Kirsten McKenzie, Patricia Lorcin

      Between 1800 and 1920, the territory and influence claimed by Western empires came to cover a larger portion of the globe than at any time before or since. Why and how did this happen? What were the consequences of this unprecedented scramble for dominion? What methods have historians used to understand the increasingly large and structurally complex Western empires that emerged across the long 19th century?

      In this fifth volume, A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Age of Empire , we trace these questions across a period bookended by two devastating global wars. The forces that enabled unparalleled Western expansion were likewise violent. Often no less traumatically, the phenomenon was also one of cultural exchange and negotiated identities in which both colonized and colonizer were repeatedly made and remade. As cultural historians we locate the power struggles of empire as much in identity and ways of life as in the movement of armies or the signing of treaties. New technologies of communication, transport and warfare brought an ‘Age of Empire’ into existence for the West. But it was equally grounded in new ways of thinking about human difference and new beliefs about the state’s power to intervene in the most intimate domains of human behavior.

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Modern Age

      Volume 6

      Editor(s):

      Patricia M.E. Lorcin, Carlos Noreña, Matthew Gabriele, Ania Loomba, Ian Coller, Kirsten McKenzie, Patricia Lorcin

      A Cultural History of Western Empires in the Modern Age covers the period from 1918 to the present. Through the lens of the political and international events shaping the period, the introduction traces the gradual demise of the cultural importance of European empires and the emergence of the United States as the predominant cultural model. The following eight chapters of the volume, authored by a diverse range of experts, highlight different aspects of this cultural shift while indicating the historiographical controversies and conceptual developments that shaped the century-long evolution related to each of the specific topics.

      This richly-illustrated and accessible volume provides deep historical context to the rise of the US as a major cultural force in the modern era. In so doing, it gives the reader a backdrop to the shift of Western empire from the European model of 18th and 19th century imperialism, to the emergence of the US as a cultural hegemon. A feature of contemporary geopolitics that continues to play a key role in the dynamics of cultural exchange and influence playing out on the world stage today.