Colonialism and the 'Personality of Britain'

Author(s): Matthew Johnson

Year: 2016


Where did ‘colonialism’ come from?  Clearly, and at once, colonialism is a set of practices that can be traced back to the ancient and medieval worlds.  However, also and at the same time, it is an analytical term which, if used loosely, holds the danger of uncritically back-projecting a 19th century model of colonial worlds into earlier centuries.  How to map patterns of colonial practice before they were colonial? 

This paper tries to engage with this difficult issue through a comparative political ecology of the British Isles.  It goes back to quite simple and traditional ways of mapping variation through distribution and environment, for example Cyril Fox’s Highland and Lowland Zones.  It asks about the relationship between different kinds of landscape, different social forms, and different cultural identities.  Rather than seeking abstract origins, it looks at how practices later labelled as ‘colonial’ emerged from an intersection of concrete material practices.

Cite this Record

Colonialism and the 'Personality of Britain'. Matthew Johnson. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434444)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 65