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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses the relationship between empire and liberal democracy in Britain and France during the modern era. It considers the paradox that imperialism, a profoundly anti-democratic system, was the most developed in these two countries, which at the same time led the movement to liberal democracy. It focuses on three issues in particular: empire and the age of revolution; intersections of race and class during the nineteenth century; and the relationship between decolonization and the rise of the welfare state after 1945. It argues that empire and racial difference are keys to the construction of liberal democracy in the modern era, underscoring the multiple ways in which modern democracy has been shaped by race.

Keywords: Empire, liberal democracy, race, decolonization, class

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