Enlightened Colonialism

Civilization Narratives and Imperial Politics in the Age of Reason

  • Damien Tricoire

Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Damien Tricoire
    Pages 1-22
  3. The Invention of the Enlightenment and the Return of Assimilationist Policy

  4. From Civilizing to Assimilationist Policy

  5. The Invention of Intra-European Colonialism

  6. Towards Civilizing Policy in the British Empire

  7. Civilization, Racial Order, and Slavery

  8. Back Matter
    Pages 309-318

About this book


This book further qualifies the postcolonial thesis and shows its limits. To reach these goals, it links text analysis and political history on a global comparative scale. Focusing on imperial agents, their narratives of progress, and their political aims and strategies, it asks whether Enlightenment gave birth to a new colonialism between 1760 and 1820.

Has Enlightenment provided the cultural and intellectual origins of modern colonialism? For decades, historians of political thought, philosophy, and literature have debated this question. On one side, many postcolonial authors believe that enlightened rationalism helped delegitimize non-European cultures. On the other side, some historians of ideas and literature are willing to defend at least some eighteenth-century philosophers whom they consider to have been “anti-colonialists”. Surprisingly enough, both sides have focused on literary and philosophical texts, but have rarely taken political and social practice into account.


Colonial politics Imperialism Foreign Office Assimilation British Empire

Editors and affiliations

  • Damien Tricoire
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophische Fakultät IMartin Luther Universität HalleGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-54279-9
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-54280-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site