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The phenomenon of imperialism has never been under such intense scrutiny, by such a wide range of academic disciplines, as it is today. From cultural studies to the history of science, academics are engaged in a series of debates about empire which move far beyond traditional preoccupations with metropolitan strategy, economics, and rivalry. Using primary and secondary documentary sources, this reader negotiates the many trends and concerns in recent debates to provide a broad-based, comparative history of the British Empire. Selected readings are presented within a chronological framework, from the origins of empire to decolonization and beyond. Samson adopts a theme of identity to explore different perspectives through the sources, including metropolitan, colonial, and indigenous responses. General and section introductions explore such issues as the role of economics and religion in imperial expansion and rule; how indigenous and Creole populations constructed and expressed their own identities; and what changes were wrought by the process of decolonization. Bringing together a wide range of documentary evidence, this volume allows the varied and vital debates on aspects of imperialism and identity to be seen in the context of the broad history of the British Empire.