Political Theory Catalogue

Plu Social

Blog Twitter Facebook


Signup now

Book of the Week

Zionism and its Discontents
As the UK parliament takes a symbolic vote to recognise a Palestinian state we consider the history of the anti-Zionist movement...
Competitions Jobs

Roots of Imperialism

Most books on ancient empires focus on their grandeur, on great works of art and architecture or other cultural accomplishments, privileging those elements that can be admired or that astonish because of their cruelty. Works that analyse the structures of empire are largely restricted to the scholarly world. Authors who pursue such analyses often avoid drawing connections to the present. 
Instead of encouraging readers to view empires from the point of view of their beneficiaries, the Roots of Imperialism series examines the pervasive structures, whether economic, cultural or political, that were created and mobilised in order to keep conquered and other dependent populations in check. Books in the series  examine forms of resistance to empires, and ways in which dependent populations sought to subvert imperial intentions. The series addresses structural, symbolic and physical violence and how their uses contributed to imperial control. 
Roots of Imperialism specifically highlights the political nature of connections between the past and the contemporary world and hence the current political relevance of past empires. Past empires are explicitly compared to recent empires by examining similarities and differences in structures, forms of violence, and strategies of resistance. These comparisons shed light on structures and practices that have historical precedents as well as those contemporary practices that reconfigure previous ones in novel ways (for example, via new forms of communication and transportation).  Our authors also point repeatedly to the fact that ancient empires have not disappeared: their traces, both material and intangible, remain or have been resuscitated in the modern world in various ways. These include material traces (ruins, museum exhibits, monuments) as well as indirect remains in art (literature, music, theatre, architecture), symbols, and quotations.  Residues of the past often serve present agendas in (semi-)hidden ways. By exploring these facets of ancient empires in the present, these books not only juxtapose past and present empires but also reveal how past empires have come to be integrated firmly in our present-day lifeworld.

Series editors

Reinhard Bernbeck, Professor of Anthropology, is a Near Eastern archaeologist with interests in the economic organization of prehistoric and historic societies. He is particularly concerned with rural-urban migration and nomadism in the past and their impact on social and economic structures. He has conducted fieldwork in Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
Susan Pollock, Professor of Anthropology, is a Near Eastern archaeologist with interests in political economy and feminist approaches to the study of prehistoric and early historic societies. Her current research includes studies of community and household in village-based societies, the economies of early states in Mesopotamia, and analysis of the media's use of archaeology in constructing public opinion. She has conducted fieldwork in Iran, Iraq and Turkey. 

Click here for the entire series