Tessa Szyszkowitz in conversation with Priyamvada Gopal
How rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire
Who ended the British Empire? Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches at Churchill College in Cambridge, puts her focus on the colonial subjects as she examines a century of dissent on the question of empire and shows how British critics of empire were influenced by rebellions and resistance in the colonies,
from the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India. In addition, a pivotal role in fomenting resistance was played by anticolonial campaigners based in London, right at the heart of empire. Much has been written on how colonized peoples took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. Gopal’s highly influencial and valued book Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom.
“Priyamvada Gopal has calmly and authoritatively produced this impressive study of resistance against Empire, in the face of the kind of constant hostility that only serves to reminds us why her work is so urgent in the first place. We all owe her a debt.”– Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)
Priyamvada Gopal is University Professor in Anglophone and Related Literatures in the Faculty of English and Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge. She is the author of Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence and The Indian English Novel: Nation, History and Narration.
Tessa Szyszkowitz is a journalist, writer and historian currently working for Falter, profil & Cicero. Her last book was Echte Engländer, Britain & Brexit (2018). She is also Senior Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.