Insurgent Empire by Priyamvada Gopal review – a superb study of anticolonial resistance


This post is by Miles Taylor from Books | The Guardian


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An important new history of opposition to the British empire, at home and overseas, from the Chartists and the Indian rebels to the Mau Mau uprising

Statues of great white Englishmen are not very popular these days. Since 2016, campaigners have been trying to “decolonise” Britain’s history by removing memorials to imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes and the Bristol slave-trader Edward Colston, among others. Not everyone deserves such treatment. In a quiet London square, just off Holborn, stands a statue of Fenner Brockway, veteran leftwing MP and scourge of empire. Brockway, who lived long enough to attend the unveiling of his own memorial in 1985, took part in almost every anticolonial movement from the 1920s to the 1980s. He belongs to a long tradition of radical opposition to British imperialism, charted by Priyamvada Gopal’s arresting and insightful book. Using some two dozen case studies, Gopal investigates a ...