The Making of the Modern World - Lecture 8

Lecturer: Dr Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS University of London

Nov. 30, 2020

In the modern world, the main type of formal political organisation has gone from being ‘empires’ to ‘nation-states’. But how did this happen, what was left behind and what does it mean? More importantly, why do people still talk about decolonisation today? This session maps out how and where decolonisation unfolded with a particular emphasis on the twentieth century. It looks at the different ideas of liberation that underpinned it, how people organised themselves, how this was met by imperial powers and what the results were in different contexts. The session also examines why struggles for ‘decolonisation’ are ongoing and spreading to the former centres of empire. It concludes by thinking about the dynamics of decolonisation as a significant force shaping the modern world.



Questions for Discussion

  1. Why did decolonisation accelerate in the twentieth century?
  2. Did decolonisation simply expand the numbers of states in the international system, or did it transform that system itself?
  3. Can decolonisation ever be a finished process?