Matilde Cazzola

Seeking a superstate for the end of the empire: an expanding society and variations on the «world state» in British imperial thought (18th and 19th centuries)

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This essay contextualizes the fin-de-siècle discussions around the notion of a «world state» within British imperial thought, by retracing the genealogy of that concept in the late 18th century debates surrounding the American Revolution, and subsequently in the plans of systematic colonization and responsible government conceived for the British settler colonies in the mid-19th century. This analysis demonstrates how British ideas of a superstate, an imperial federation, and an Anglo-world cannot be separated from an underlying conception of an expanding society, according to which a new political frame had to be devised for, and superimposed upon, a specific set of commercial and capitalist social relations which English emigration and colonization were enlarging globally.


  • world state
  • imperial federation
  • British Empire
  • colonization
  • civil society


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