Geographies of an Imperial Power

Geographies of an Imperial Power

The British World, 1688–1815
Jeremy Black
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/15/2017
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03157-0
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From explorers tracing rivers to navigators hunting for longitude, spatial awareness and the need for empirical understanding were linked to British strategy in the 1700s. This strategy, in turn, aided in the assertion of British power and authority on a global scale. In this sweeping consideration of Britain in the 18th century, Jeremy Black explores the interconnected roles of power and geography in the creation of a global empire. Geography was at the heart of Britain’s expansion into India, its response to uprisings in Scotland and America, and its revolutionary development of railways. Geographical dominance was reinforced as newspapers stoked the fires of xenophobia and defined the limits of cosmopolitan Europe as compared to the "barbarism" beyond. Geography provided a system of analysis and classification which gave Britain political, cultural, and scientific sovereignty. Black considers geographical knowledge not just as a tool for creating a shared cultural identity but also as a key mechanism in the formation of one of the most powerful and far-reaching empires the world has ever known.

Author Bio

Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is author of A History of Britain: 1945 to Brexit; Other Pasts, Different Presents, Alternative Future; War and Technology; and Fighting for America: The Struggle for Mastery in North America, 1519–1871. Black is a recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize of the Society for Military History.


“This is an engaging, wide-ranging, clearly written, well-informed book. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“The breadth and depth of knowledge on display in this book are impressive. Black draws extensively on scholarship in other fields as diverse as cultural studies, landscape history, and cartography, as well as British history. ”
 — Historical Geography

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
1. Accumulating Knowledge
2. The Spatial Matrix of Military and Political Power
3. Territorialization and the Mapping of Authority
4. The Public Sphere
5. The Debate on Tourism, Religion, and Culture
6. Responding to Novelty
7. Responding to the Transoceanic World
8. Responding to Coal and Commerce
9. Geographies in Retrospect
10. Conclusions
Selected Further Reading