Legacy of Empire

Sathnam Sanghera and Dr Michael Taylor

This is a recording of a past event
17 February 2022


How much of what we consider to be modern Britain is actually rooted in our imperial past?

Award-winning author Sathnam Sanghera talks to historian Dr Michael Taylor.  In this highly anticipated event, Sathnam and Michael seek to unravel the extent to which Empire has shaped our history, perception and understanding of the world.

Their conversation touches on Sanghera’s experiences of growing up in Wolverhampton as the son of Punjabi Indians. It explores the role of Commonwealth immigrants in shaping modern Britain. And considers the legacies of some of the most traumatic incidents in imperial history.

Their exchange seeks to address some of the most pressing questions facing Britain today. What should we do with the statues of slaveholders such as Edward Colston and imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes? Is it ‘woke’ to regard British imperial history with scepticism? How should we teach imperial history in schools and universities? And who is going to win the ongoing ‘culture wars’ about history and memory?

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.

dr michael taylor

Dr Michael Taylor

Dr Michael Taylor is a historian of the British Isles and the British Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His book The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery was based on his PhD research, and was shortlisted for the 2021 Orwell Prize for Political Writing. He has written for the Guardian, the Literary Review, and the London Review of Books.

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