How has British Imperialism shaped the modern world?

Sathnam Sanghera and Professor Alan Lester

sathnam sanghera
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Date and time
2 October 2024
6.30 pm

Contact Theatre Space 1
Oxford Rd,
Manchester M15 6JA
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Members £7.50 / Non-members £15.00 / Students £5.00

Wheelchair accessible



We’re delighted to welcome back acclaimed author, journalist and broadcaster Sathnam Sanghera for this special in conversation event with eminent historian Professor Alan Lester.

Sathnam’s seminal 2021 bestseller Empireland revealed how Empire continues to shape life in Britain today. Its inspired sequel Empireworld, published in 2024, takes a significant step further in examining the wider global significance of British Imperial power. Sathnam and Alan’s conversation will reflect on just how deeply British Imperialism remains baked into our world today.

Together, they will look at how the effects of Empire continue to be felt globally, shaping cities, cultures, and societies in profound ways. Alan Lester, a Professor of Historical Geography, will share his own and other specialist historians’ profound insights into the intricate relationship between colonial legacies and the contemporary debates surrounding them.

The event will offer a critical look at Empire’s lasting impact, both negative and positive, on the 2.6 billion inhabitants of former British Colonies. From the spread of Christianity by missionaries, to the shaping of international law, to possibly being the single most significant incubator, refiner, and propagator of white supremacy in the history of the planet.

Through their conversation, Sathnam and Alan will explore why a nuanced understanding of colonial history, clearly important for Britain today, has become so politically controversial – engendering backlash from the right and often taking a personal toll on writers and academics entering the debate.

We are at a point of unprecedented social change. Does this moment offer an opportunity to acknowledge and embrace Empire’s contradictions and paradoxes? Can we move beyond sterile monologues and embrace meaningful dialogues about history, identity and global legacies? Can Britain hope to have a productive future in the world without acknowledging what Empire did to the world in the first place?

Sathnam and Alan will discuss all of this and more. Don’t miss this very special event.

sathnam sanghera

Sathnam Sanghera FRSL, FRHistS

Sathnam Sanghera is a British journalist and best-selling author. His third book, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Been Shaped Modern Britain became an instant Sunday Times bestseller on release in 2021. It was named Book of the Year (non-fiction: narrative) at the 2022 British Books Awards, and inspired Empire State of Mind, the acclaimed two-part documentary for Channel 4.

In 2024, Sathnam published Empireworld, an ambitious sequel to Empireland. In researching the book, he travelled far and wide, to India, Barbados, Mauritius and Nigeria, gathering testimonies to examine the legacy of British Imperialism on the globe. Sathnam has also published a children’s book, Stolen History: The Truth about the British Empire and How it shaped us.

professor alan lester

Professor Alan Lester FRHistS

Professor Alan Lester is a British historian, historical geographer and author. He has been researching, writing about and teaching the British Empire for over thirty years, with the aim of bringing the evidence-based and curiosity-driven approach of academic historians to bear in what has become a politicised struggle over the legacies of the British Empire.

He is currently Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Sussex and Adjunct Professor of History at La Trobe University, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is also co-editor of the prestigious Manchester University Press Studies in Imperialism research monograph series.

His recent publication The Truth About Empire: Real Histories of British Colonialism is an edited compilation of essays by respected experts in the fields of imperial and colonial history, a vitally important guide to the British Empire, and a shield against the assault on historical truth. Sathnam Sanghera wrote the book’s foreword.

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