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2. Empires, Imperial States, and Colonial Societies

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Chapter Summary

The genealogy of sociological research on empires, imperial states, and colonial societies is a hidden one, in several respects. The most general reason for this invisibility is disciplinary amnesia, that is, sociology's general lack of serious interest in its own past except for occasional references to a handful of the field's founding fathers. In this chapter, the author's discussion is broken up into four periods, each of which corresponds to important global changes in imperial practice and developments in sociological analyzes of empires. The four periods on sociological research are from 1830-1890, 1890-1918, 1918-1945, and 1945-1970. Sociologists' interest in empire has often been extremely independent of immediate geopolitics. A diachronic approach is necessary in order to track patterns of reciprocal causality between imperial and sociological practice and the play of amnesia and intellectual accumulation within social science.

Keywords: colonial societies; empires; imperial states; sociological research



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