Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire


Spanning the globe from the Americas to South Asia, this interdisciplinary course examines the peripheries of empires. Rather than looking at the history of empires through the lens of European powers (England and Spain), this course takes us to the places that were conquered in order to gain a broader understanding of how empire and colonialism worked, or failed to work, and ultimately what led these “edges of empires” to decolonize and gain independence (India and Mexico) – and, in the case of the American Southwest, become incorporated into another empire: the United States.

This class focuses on the colonized rather than the colonizer, and provides students with the historical knowledge to contextualize many of the human rights issues that plague the post-colonial world today. Colonization left its imprint upon the globe, but the biggest losers were indigenous people everywhere. This class will culminate in a public forum that addresses the impact of colonialism across the globe.

This website is student-driven and student-developed.  The course is based on project-based learning that allows students to make history public. On this website students make blog posts about photographs from India and Mexico from the photograph collections at SMU’s DeGolyer Library, and develop a class bibliography. Students then work together to curate a photograph exhibit titled “On the Edges of Empire: Photography in 19th and 20th Century India and Mexico.” This exhibit will open on May 2, and will grace the halls of SMU’s first building, Dallas Hall.

Join us on May 2 for the public forum on Human Rights and the Post-Colonial World followed by the opening of our student curated exhibit “On the Edges of Empire: Photography in 19th and 20th Century India and Mexico.”



This website is a project created by students in KNW 2399: Edges of Empire course at Southern Methodist University in Spring 2017. KNW 2399 is taught by Neil Foley and Rachel Ball-Phillips.

A special thanks to the sponsors of the public forum: Embrey Center for Human Rights, Clements Department of History, and Clements Department for Southwest Studies. We would also like to thank Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and the Office of the Provost for their generous support for the student curated photograph exhibit. This exhibit would not be possible without the tireless work of the DeGolyer Library staff, who have worked with our students throughout this project.

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