Next Meetings (Thursdays)

27th September – Charlotte Riley: Gin, bunting and bloody railways

25th October – Diana Fleischman – The evolution of human morality

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Wednesday October 10th

Skeptics of the Round Table at the Bishop on the Bridge in Winchester from 7pm, for some informal Skeptical chat, food, drinks
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Thursday 27th September – Charlotte Riley – Gin, bunting and bloody railways

Gin, bunting and bloody railways: Why everything you thought you knew about the British Empire is Wrong.

The British Empire was the largest empire in modern history. At its height, it covered a quarter of the world’s surface and encompassed a fifth of the world’s population. For centuries, Britannia ruled the waves; from Ireland to India, from Ghana to Guiana, the union flag flew high over British territory.

Britain tells this story as a story of triumphs: a small island coming proudly to dominate the world, with the empire cast both as a sign of military might and as a humanitarian mission, bringing peace and civilisation to the wider world. But the reality was very different; the British empire was built on violence and exploitation, the populations under British rule rejected and resisted imperialism, and the British at home had a very ambivalent relationship to ‘their’ empire.

This talk will look at some of the key myths of empire, and will explore why the British still have such a complicated understanding of their imperial past, and how the popular memory of empire still influences culture, politics and society today.

Bio

Charlotte Lydia Riley is a lecturer in twentieth century British history at the University of Southampton. She writes about the British empire and decolonization, aid and humanitarianism, and the Labour Party; her book explores all of these things to examine the connections between empire and the British metropole in the late twentieth century. She lives in east London and spends a lot of time on trains.

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