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Empires in World History:
Power and the Politics of Difference
Jane Burbank & Frederick Cooper

Winner of the 2011 Book Prize, World History Association
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010

Paperback | 2011 | $25.95 / £17.95 | ISBN: 9780691152363
528 pp. | 7 x 10 | 44 halftones. 34 line illus.
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Reviews | Table of Contents
Chapter 1[PDF] pdf-icon

Empires--vast states of territories and peoples united by force and ambition--have dominated the political landscape for more than two millennia. Empires in World History departs from conventional European and nation-centered perspectives to take a remarkable look at how empires relied on diversity to shape the global order. Beginning with ancient Rome and China and continuing across Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa, Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper examine empires' conquests, rivalries, and strategies of domination--with an emphasis on how empires accommodated, created, and manipulated differences among populations.

Burbank and Cooper examine Rome and China from the third century BCE, empires that sustained state power for centuries. They delve into the militant monotheism of Byzantium, the Islamic Caliphates, and the short-lived Carolingians, as well as the pragmatically tolerant rule of the Mongols and Ottomans, who combined religious protection with the politics of loyalty. Burbank and Cooper discuss the influence of empire on capitalism and popular sovereignty, the limitations and instability of Europe's colonial projects, Russia's repertoire of exploitation and differentiation, as well as the "empire of liberty"--devised by American revolutionaries and later extended across a continent and beyond.

With its investigation into the relationship between diversity and imperial states, Empires in World History offers a fresh approach to understanding the impact of empires on the past and present.

Jane Burbank is professor of history and Russian and Slavic studies at New York University. Her books include Intelligentsia and Revolution and Russian Peasants Go to Court. Frederick Cooper is professor of history at New York University. His books include Decolonization and African Society and Colonialism in Question.

Review:

"This is a very big book on an enormous subject. For anybody who assumes imperial history is all about Britain, with some 19th-century European imitators on the side, it will be something of a shock. For Burbank and Cooper, imperial history is world history. The authors also make a point popular among academics who hate the idea of borders keeping the underprivileged out of rich nations, that empires can be confederations of different peoples united by an all-encompassing ideal. 'Sovereignty can be shared, layered and transformed,' they write. Whether or not you agree with the implications of this argument, the weeks it will take bedtime history buffs to get through this book will be time well spent."--Stephen Matchett, The Australian

"This exemplary work, clearly laid out and fluently written, is a must for every undergraduate library, though more advanced scholars will also find much in it."--Choice

"A tour d'horizon through world history based on a stupendous knowledge of the literature, both authors take as their leitmotif the question of how empires have dealt with diversity and analyze the most varied constellations of imperial control."--Andreas Eckert, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"Jane Burbank's and Frederick Cooper's Empires in World History is a very useful and impressive reference book."--Sheldon Kirshner, Canadian Jewish News

"Empires in World History provides a powerful teaching tool for framing the sometimes fluid and complex relationships between empires and nation-states, subjects and citizens, inclusion and exclusion. . . . This book will likely prove most useful in graduate courses in empire and/or world history and to teachers who are seeking a way to teach about empire without simply jumping from one to the next."--Clif Stratton, World History Bulletin

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This book has been translated into:

  • French
  • German
  • Spanish

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    File created: 7/11/2014

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