Dr Emily J. Manktelow - Senior Lecturer in Global and Colonial History
Research and teaching on the history of the British Empire is both challenging and rewarding. A diverse, multifaceted and oftentimes brutal phenomenon, the Empire also allows us a lens into issues of power, gender and culture through both time and space. My work has focussed on histories of imperial intimacy and family, gender and social histories in the context of colonialism, and most recently the role of Empire-nostalgia in the present. Inspired by both engaging with my students, and burrowing into the archive, my research continues to evolve around questions of Empire, intimacy and memory.
I am particularly interested in the everyday life of Empire – from the decadent boredom of inebriated elites, to the everyday love and labour of colonial peoples around the Empire. At the same time, the ideological underpinnings of imperialism are equally important. Examining the ways in which expansion was justified, understood and reproduced in Britain and elsewhere is a crucial part of globalisation and colonialism. As such, I am interested in both social and cultural history – from the minutiae of the apparently mundane to those broader ideas, representations and discourses of imperialism that structured people’s engagement with Empire.
My first academic publications were on the intimate history of colonial missionary activity (Missionary Families: race, gender and generation on the spiritual frontier, MUP 2013)- a topic on which I continue to teach and supervise in the present. From there, my research evolved into a micro-historical examination of sexual abuse in the missionary context, and the complex gender dynamics of power through scandal, reputation and professionalism (Gender, Power and Sexual Abuse in the Pacific: “Rev Simpson’s ‘Improper Liberties’, Bloomsbury 2018). Along the way I have been a co-founder and co-convenor of the Christian Missions in Global History seminar at the IHR, become a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and undertaken primary research in South Africa, New Zealand, America and Australia.
My current research explores the imperial nostalgia of what I like to call the ‘recolonial present’. We live in an age in which memories of Empire are moulded and mobilised for diverse political purposes. At the same time, the entertainment ‘nostalgia boom’ has repackaged imperial history for public consumption, often in ways that flatten complexity or glorify the colonial past. The use of historical memory in the present needs to be both accurate and informed, and I believe in the role of the historian in this process, whether that’s debunking imperial myths (railways, railways, railways), or diversifying colonial narratives (benevolence vs. violence, democracy vs. discrimination, modernity vs. underdevelopment).
Royal Holloway is the perfect place to study these vexing and sometimes contradictory phenomena. Nestled in the heart of Surrey and at the same time looking out to the global connections of London, the colonial history of Windsor, and the gender history of what was formerly a women’s university, Royal Holloway brings my research interests together in intriguing and challenging ways.
More information about my research is available via PURE.
Email - Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter - @emanktelow