A Public Conversation Featuring Stuart Ward with Frank Bongiorno

The End of Britain: Writing a Global History

The death of Queen Elizabeth in 2022 capped off a period of unprecedented turmoil in contemporary British politics. The protracted fall-out of Brexit, the recrudescence of political unrest in Northern Ireland, and the undimmed aspirations of Scottish nationalists raised urgent questions about the long-term viability of the United Kingdom. Not for the first time, the fate of Britain had become a live issue, subject to endless speculation and ever-more confident predictions about its ultimate demise. In his recently published Untied Kingdom: A Global History of the End of Britain (Cambridge University Press) Stuart Ward makes the case for viewing the problem from the outside-in. To comprehend the diminished returns of being British in the 21st century, he argues, we need to consider the much wider collapse of British sentiment in the wake of Britain’s protracted imperial retreat. The contemporary challenges to British identity emerge in whole new light when viewed as the latest installment of a larger story, affecting peoples and cultures in all parts of the world – including Australia – that have extricated themselves from the British embrace.

Professor Stuart Ward is a global historian specialising in the enduring legacies of the British empire. His work encompasses not only the former colonies and dominions that once fell within the empire’s sway, but also the political, cultural, and psychological implications of decolonisation in Britain itself. His recent book, Untied Kingdom: A Global History of the End of Britain (Cambridge University Press) is the culmination of ten years of research to uncover the many ways that Britishness was imagined, experienced, disputed and ultimately discarded in the long aftermath of the Second World War. Originally from Australia (with degrees in history from the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney) he worked at the European University Institute in Florence and King’s College London before taking up his current role as Professor of History at the University of Copenhagen in 2003. He has also held visiting posts at University College Dublin, the University of Exeter, the Australian National University, and is currently a visiting fellow at Nuffield College Oxford. Since 2010 he has been Provost of Denmark’s oldest student residence, Regensen.

Frank Bongiorno AM is Professor of History at the Australian National University and President of the Australian Historical Association. He has previously held academic positions at the ANU, as a Lecturer and later Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, Griffith University as Lecturer in Australian Studies, University of Cambridge, where he was Smuts Visiting Fellow, and King’s College London, where he was Senior Lecturer. He is formerly Head of the School of History at the ANU, and is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of Humanities. His books include The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia (2015) and, most recently, Dreamers and Schemers: A Political History of Australia (2022).

This event is generously sponsored by the Vizard Foundation.

Presented with the History Trust of South Australia.



5-  6pm: Talk
6 - 7pm: Reception

Admission is free but registration is essential

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