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Empire and the problem of evil

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Colonial map illustrating British imperialism

About this event

A lecture to celebrate the next stage of Dr Sean Lang's career

In recent years, the study of Empire and colonialism has moved from being something of a niche area of academic specialism to a central and dominating area of public controversy and concern. Paintings, statues and building names commemorating prominent figures from the heyday of Empire have become contested and controversial spaces with remarkable speed. The very idea of Empire, which for many British people was for decades a source of considerable moral satisfaction and pride, has become so widely discredited that British imperialism is routinely compared with unambiguously criminal regimes like Nazi Germany.

But does this morality-based outlook help our understanding of Empire? Is it possible – or even desirable – for whole regimes to be described as ‘evil’? Is a concept of Evil itself helpful in understanding the past? This talk will consider the issue in relation to British imperialism and twentieth-century dictatorships.

After seventeen years teaching at ARU, Sean Lang is retiring as Senior Lecturer in History and moving onto new challenges and projects. He will be maintaining his link to ARU, presenting the new university radio show ARU Perspectives with Cambridge 105 and continuing his theatre work, using theatre to explore our relationship with the past.

The leture will be followed by a drinks reception which you are invited to attend.

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