Empire and History: The Paradoxes of Power

Bloxam Project Blog

Figure 1 – Photograph of the construction of The Statue of Liberty in Paris by its designer, Auguste Bartholdi, in 1884

Very few political terms have such complex and contested histories as the word ‘empire’. Arguably, in one way or another, empire has been part of organised human history from the beginning. The impulse to conglomerate and to extend a cultural, political and territorial sway over neighbouring or remote peoples is perhaps rooted in an basic human instinct towards group dominance and survival. It is a motif with a long history in popular mythology, literature and art. It shows its determinant influence in the evolution of world languages and on patterns of trade. There’s an imperial backstory to the growth and shaping of each of the world’s major religions. If the late 19th-century golden age of European empire is behind us, the ghost of empire continues to haunt the imaginations…

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