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Prof. John M. MacKenzie
Author and Historian of Empire
 Recent Publications....
The British Empire Through Buildings. Structure, function and meaning. Manchester University Press, March 2020 ISBN 978-1-5261-4596-3 Buildings provide tremendous insights into the character of imperialism, not least in the manner in which Western forms were spread across the globe. They reveal the projection of power and authority in colonised landscapes, as well as the economic ambitions and social and cultural needs of colonial peoples in all types of colonies. They also represent a colonial order of social classes and racial divisions, together with the ways in which these were inflected through domestic living space, places of work and various aspects of cultural relations. Buildings also illuminate the desire of Europeans to indulge in cultural and religious proselytisation, encouraging indigenous peoples to adopt western norms. But the resistance of the supposedly subordinate people led to the invasion, adoption and adaptation of such buildings for a post-colonial world. The book is important reading for all students and scholars interested in the widest aspects of material culture.
Image: Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata (Calcutta), built 1906-21, and statue of Viceroy Lord Curzon.
The catalogue Inspired by the East: how the Islamic world influenced Western art (edited by William Greenwood and Lucien de Guise) accompanied the major British Museum exhibition, Inspired by the East (October 2019-January 2020), mounted jointly with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. The opening chapter by John M. MacKenzie, ‘The Orientalism Debate’  provides the background to this controversial subject, taking a long view of Orientalism in the arts and its cultural and political context, and assessing the various interpretations placed upon it.
A Cultural History of the British Empire Yale University Press, Nov. 2022 ISBN 9780300260786 A compelling history of British imperial culture, showing how it was adopted and subverted by colonial subjects around the world. Facilitated by the rapid growth of print, photography, film, and radio, imperialists imagined this new global culture would cement the unity of the empire. In this groundbreaking history, John MacKenzie describes how colonised peoples were quick to observe British culture and adapted elements to their own ends, subverting British expectations and eventually beating them at their own game. As indigenous communities integrated their own cultures with the British imports, the empire itself was increasingly undermined. From the extraordinary spread of horse racing, cricket and other team sports to art, sculpture and ceremonies, MacKenzie presents an engaging imperial history—one with profound implications for global culture in the present day.
The autobiography Orientations: A Life at the End of Empire  (Troubador, Leicester, 2023) describes growing up in postwar Scotland and Northern Rhodesia, his adventurous journeys in Africa, Canada, India and the Far East, and the manner in which his travels and experience of university teaching influenced his career as a historian. The development of his ideas and the passionate injection of these into his many innovative books and articles led him to be embroiled in much controversy about the history of the British Empire. The book describes his philosophy as teacher and scholar, his love of ships and the sea, and the interweaving of his  professional and personal life, not least ‘coming out’ as a teenager in the 1950s at a time of official persecution.
New books