Resisting Empire

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
10 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The rise and fall of the various historical empires--the Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, British and others--is a familiar story, but that is not the focus of this module.

Instead, we will examine the many ways in which people across the globe opposed imperial domination (broadly construed), with special attention to the campaigns, both violent and non-violent, that contested and ultimately helped to alter the old world order. We will see that although many of these movements were crushed, empires were far from invincible and always faced opposition.

At the heart of the module will be a set of case studies ranging from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, with examples from the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Africa. We will pose three basic questions to each case.

First, we will seek to understand the nature of imperial domination in each region and period, the historically specific structures and policies, as well as the constant push and pull that gave shape to ordinary lives. Second, we will examine the resistance movements, their ideas, goals, and methods. Finally, we will try to understand the reasons for the success or failure of each movement.

Module aims

The module aims:

1. To familiarize students with the concept of resistance and its various modes.

2. To provide students with an understanding of the ways in which resistance shaped imperial project itself.

3. To introduce students to the methods and approaches employed by scholars in reading sources normally produced from the metropolitan perspective.

Module learning outcomes

On completing the module, students will:

1. Have an awareness of key definitions and debates concerning the nature of colonial domination and resistance.

2. Be able to identify and interpret a number of resistance movements throughout history, and be able to situate them within their specific historical contexts.

3. Be familiar with the theoretical and methodological problems of studying resistance in a European-dominated archive

4. Have gained key discipline-specific skills in preparation for the final year research project.

Module information

For introductory reading, see:

James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak (1985).
James C. Scott, Domination and the Art of Resistance (1990).
Eric Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels (1959).
Antoinette Burton, The Trouble with Empire (2015).
Heather Streets and Trevor Getz, Empires and Colonies in the Modern World: A Global Perspective (2016).

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and seminars


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Primary source analysis (1000 words)    40% 
Coursework   Take home exam (2000 words)    55% 
Practical   Seminar Participation     5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Jeremy Krikler, email:
Belinda Waterman, Department of History, 01206 872313



External examiner

Dr Simon Rofe
University of London
Reader in Diplomatic and International Studies
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 40 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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