How is Empire integrated into the collective memory of the United Kingdom? What is the relationship between historical scholarship on Empire and its manifestations in popular culture and memorialization? And to what extent has the Imperial past become the latest front in the ‘Culture Wars’. Three distinguished authors will attempt to throw light on these important questions in a special round table discussion. 

Sathnam Sanghera is an award-winning writer and presenter. His 2021 monograph EmpireLand: How Imperialism has Shaped Modern Britain was named a Book of the Year at the National Books Awards in 2022, and formed the basis the Channel 4 series ‘Empire State of Mind’. His latest book, Stolen History: The Truth About the British Empire and How It Shaped Us, published this year by Penguin is a history of the imperial past for children.

Charlotte Lydia Riley is Associate Professor of History at the University of Southampton and a specialist on the Labour party and postwar imperial policy. She edited the 2021 collection Free Speech Wars: how did we get here and why does it matter? (MUP), which examines the 'culture wars' and freedom of expression in Europe and America. Her latest book, Imperial Island: A History of Empire in Modern Britain, published this year by Penguin, explores the Empire ‘at home’ from the Second World War to the present day.

Alan Lester is Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Sussex. His work is closely associated with the emergence of a ‘new Imperial History’. He co-edits the Manchester University Press Studies in Imperialism series. His most recent book, Deny and Disavow: Distancing the Imperial Past in the Culture Wars (2022), employs a mixture of history, memoir and travelogue to explore the myths that have developed around Empire.

The panel will be chaired by Philip Murphy (IHR), director of History & Policy and author of The Empire’s New Clothes: The Myth of the Commonwealth.

The IHR is grateful to the family and friends of David Eisenberg in providing their generous support for this lecture.