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Reordering the WorldEssays on Liberalism and Empire$
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Duncan Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780691138787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691138787.001.0001

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John Robert Seeley and the Political Theology of Empire

John Robert Seeley and the Political Theology of Empire

(p.265) Chapter 11 John Robert Seeley and the Political Theology of Empire
Reordering the World

Duncan Bell

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on John Robert Seeley (1834–95), the most prominent imperial thinker in late nineteenth-century Britain. It dissects Seeley's understanding of theology and religion, probes his views on the sacred character of nationality, and shows how he attempted to reconcile particularism and universalism in a so-called “cosmopolitan nationalist” vision. It argues that Seeley's most famous book, The Expansion of England (1883) should be understood as an expression of his basic political-theological commitments. The chapter also makes the case that he conceived of Greater Britain as a global federal nation-state, modeled on the United States. It concludes by discussing the role of India and Ireland in his polychronic, stratified conception of world order.

Keywords:   John Robert Seeley, imperial thinker, political thought, theology, nationality, nationalist cosmopolitanism, India, Ireland, world order

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