Modern Imperialism

prasenjit Duara

in The Oxford Handbook of World History

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199235810
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Modern Imperialism


The renewed interest in imperialism after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has re-cast a vexed problem regarding the delimitation of the scope of the term imperialism. The urge to distinguish ‘imperialism’ from ‘empire’ has surfaced as some scholars seek to dissociate the United States' actions from the term imperialism and affiliate it with the less negative, if not positive, vision of empire. In that light, this article describes empire and imperialism in history; the historiography of imperialism; principal developments in modern imperialism; and the mid-nineteenth century transformation of imperialism or ‘new imperialism’. Imperialist competition in the first half of the twentieth century was catalyzed by a particular configuration of capitalism and nationalism. The nationalist foundations of modern imperialism have made it very difficult for the imperialist nation, whether Japan in Manchukuo or the United States in Iraq, to transition to a federated polity or cooperative economic entities or even ‘empire’.

Keywords: imperialism; historiography; globalization; new imperialism; United States; imperialist nation

Article.  8069 words. 

Subjects: History ; Colonialism and Imperialism

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »