Imperial aspirations

Burhan Wazir looks at one author’s take on how empires of the past shape today’s expansionist states.

The World Today Updated 27 September 2020 Published 28 July 2020 3 minute READ

Burhan Wazir

Editor, Coda Story

The Great Imperial Hangover: How Empires Have Shaped the World
Samir Puri,
Atlantic, £20

Few ideas have persisted throughout history as long as that of empire. From ancient to nomadic, from land-based to maritime, even modern conflicts such as that in Afghanistan are fought with memories of empires in mind.

Yet over the past two decades, a generation of writers such as Pankaj Mishra (From the Ruins of Empire) and Shashi Tharoor (Inglorious Empire) have cited empires, fuelled by colonialism, racism and exploitation, as a source of some of the world’s most stubborn challenges, including poverty, unemployment and climate change.

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