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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

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

Duncan Bell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691138787.003.0011

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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