Reid, D. (2019). Culture as Imperial Synapse: Pre- and Post-Foucauldian Approaches to Culture in British Imperial Historiography. Le Foucaldien, 5(1), 4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/lefou.59
The study of British imperial culture is heavily attributed to the field of “new imperial history” that became defined in the 1990s, yet theories of imperial cultures date back to at least the 1950s. Furthermore, a recent cadre of new imperial historians has broken away from what might be called “new imperial history proper” to suggest a revised theory of imperial culture. This paper compares the theoretical influences and the methodologies of these three approaches, which I have termed the materialist approach, the discursive approach, and the localized approach, in order to show how pre-Foucauldian and post-Foucauldian imperial histories are not so diametrically opposed between materialism and culturalism as is commonly perceived. Instead, this paper argues that these three approaches all adopt a theory of imperial culture, each different and yet each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Keywords: new imperial history , british imperial historiography , imperial culture , british empire