Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

CANCELED - Jeff Colgan ─ The Political Economy of the End of Empires

Thursday, April 9, 2015

4:30 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

This seminar has been canceled.

Jeff Colgan is Richard Holbrooke Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Brown University. He studies the geopolitics of energy, as well as the causes of war. He is author of Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War (2013).

His paper, The Political Economy of the End of Empires, is available here.

Current research in international relations mostly takes for granted the state-based structure of world politics, but historically empires dominated the landscape. Why did empires vanish after World War II, and why then? Their demise was facilitated by changes in the political economy of metropoles. Many imperial powers crossed a threshold of motorization and energy consumption nearly simultaneously, leading to three changes: the balance of economic winners and losers from imperialism changed to the detriment of empire; the net fiscal costs of empire increased; and changes in foreign investment reduced the need for colonialism. These economic changes supported an ideational shift in favor of anti-colonial norms. A political economy-based explanation also helps to account for some of the variation in the timing of decolonization, across both metropoles and types of colonies.

Watson Political Economy Forum

The Watson Political Economy Forum (PEF) is a place where Brown scholars, Watson visitors, post-docs and graduate students can meet to discuss and share research on the political economy of the advanced industrial states.