Research themes

Imperial, Anti-Imperial and Global Political Economies 

From the ancient world until recent times, most people have lived under forms of imperial rule, and the flows of imperial conquest, migration, connection and exchange have been foundational in making the modern world. Globalisation's roots extend back in time, and historians have much to contribute to today's debates, ensuring that the interconnectedness and interdependence of political economies and their consequences are discussed with chronological as well as geographic breadth. At Exeter, our researchers have particularly focused on Anglophone and Francophone imperial politics, as exemplified in Richard Toye and Martin Thomas’ recent work on Franco-British imperial relations and rhetorics. Richard Toye is also a leading researcher on Churchill’s imperial politics and the United Nations and global political economy. More broadly, we have a strong research expertise in global trade, with David Thackeray analysing trade networks across the British Empire and Commonwealth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, looking at the role of culture, ethnicity and market in shaping ideas of a ‘British World’. Our historians also investigate anti-imperial political economies, with Marc Palen exploring the intersections of global capitalism, anti-imperialism, and peace activism from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, with a focus on the free trade movement’s global struggle for world peace. 

Our researchers have a strong interest in linking history with current policy-making, with Thackeray and Palen establishing the History & Policy Global Economics and History Forum, and the British Academy/ Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Trade Policy History initiative.