“This is real, difficult, essential history delivered in the most eloquent and accessible way. Her case, that rural Britain has been shaped by imperialism, is unanswerable, and she makes her arguments beautifully. An important book’ Sathnam Sanghera
There is a depth of feeling about rural places, the moors and lochs, valleys and mountains, cottages and country houses. Yet the British countryside is rarely seen as having anything to do with British colonialism. Where the countryside is celebrated, histories of empire are forgotten. In Our Island Stories, historian Corinne Fowler brings rural life and colonial rule together. Through ten country walks, roaming the island with varied companions, Fowler combines local and global history, connecting the Cotswolds to Calcutta, Dolgellau to Virginia, and Grasmere to Canton.
Empire transformed rural lives for better and for worse: whether in Welsh sheep farms or Cornish copper mines, it offered both opportunity and exploitation. Fowler shows how the booming profits of overseas colonial activities, and the select few who benefited, directly contributed to enclosure, land clearances and dispossession. These histories, usually considered separately, continue to shape lives across Britain today.
Corinne Fowler is Professor of Colonialism and Heritage in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Between 2018 and 2022, Fowler directed a child-led history and writing project called ‘Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted’. Her earlier book Green Unpleasant Land amplified the debate about our rural landscape. Suffice to say that pearls were clutched all over the place. It sold well here!
She will be in conversation with Viji Kuppan, a colleague from the Rural Racism Project
Our Island Stories will be available at a discount on the night