Professor Andrew Thompson

Featured Publication
The Ends of Empire (Oxford Handbooks)

The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire, Thomas, M., & Thompson, A. (Eds.), OUP 2018


The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire offers the most comprehensive treatment of the causes, course, and consequences of the ends of empire in the twentieth century. The volume's contributors convey the global reach of decolonization, with chapters analysing the empires of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, China and Japan.

The Handbook combines broad, regional treatments of decolonization with chapter contributions constructed around particular themes or social issues. It considers how the history of decolonization is being rethought as a result of the rise of the 'new' imperial history, and its emphasis on race, gender, and culture, as well as the more recent growth of interest in histories of globalization, transnational history, and histories of migration and diaspora, humanitarianism and development, and human rights.

  • Humanitarianism, NGOs and Human rights
  • Imperialism and empire
  • Immigration and migration  

My research interests span global histories of humanitarianism, human rights and development; the history of modern globalisation and the relationship between globalisation and empire; the effects of empire on British private and public life during the ninetieth and twentieth centuries; histories of migration and mobility (especially postcolonial migrations to Britain and France); and the history of colonial and apartheid South Africa. I have also written on Anglo-Argentine relations, transnational migration and migrant remittances, and public memories and legacies of empire.

I am currently researching international humanitarianism and human rights and the emergence of the modern aid and development sector. This work forms the subject of my forthcoming book, Humanitarianism on Trial: How global systems of aid and development emerged through the end of empire (Oxford University Press).  I have been given access to previously unseen archives of the United Nations and the International Red Cross.

Part of this research has been published in my 2016 article on Nelson Mandela, political detention on Robben Island and the apartheid in South Africa and my 2015 article entitled ‘Humanitarianism Principles put to the test: Challenges to humanitarian action during decolonisation’, both of these articles were published in the International Review My current research closely aligns with a joint project, in partnership with Professor Sir Mike Aaronson (Honorary Fellow, Nuffield College) on International NGOs and the Long Humanitarian Century: Legacy, Legitimacy and Leading into the Future.

Another line of my research examines postcolonial Britain and immigration in the twentieth century. My research on First Generation Asian Migrants in Britain (2005) was funded by the Institute of Public Policy and this led to invitations to speak at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and DCLG. More recently, I was invited to present evidence to the Home Office as part of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review (2019).


Imagining Britain's Economic Future, c. 1800-1975. Trade, Consumerism, and Global Markets, co-edited with David Thackeray; Richard Toye (Palgrave, Macmillan, 2018) 

'Restoring hope where all hope was lost': Nelson Mandela, the ICRC and the protection of political detainees in apartheid South Africa', International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 98 no. 903 (2016) 

'Humanitarian principles put to the test: Challenges to humanitarian action during decolonisation', International Review of the Red Cross, vol. 97, no. 897-8 (2015)

'Empire and Globalisation: from "High Imperialism" to Decolonisation', International History Review, vol. 36, no. 1 (2014)

Empire, Identity and Migration in the British World, co-edited with Kent Fedorowich (Manchester University Press, 2013)

Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester University Press, 2013)

Britain's Experience of Empire during the Twentieth Century, companion volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire Series (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Empire and Globalisation: Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, co-authored with Gary Magee (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

The Empire Strikes Back? The impact of imperialism on Britain from the mid-nineteenth century (Pearson Longman, 2005) 

The Impact of the South African War, 1899-1902, co-edited with David Omissi (Macmillan Palgrave, 2002)

Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics, c. 1880-1932 (Longmans, 2000)


Current DPhil Students

  • Jasper Theodor Kauth: ‘The 1920s as a Critical Juncture for Migration Governance and Rulemaking: A Comparative Analysis of Europe and the United States in the 20th Century’

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students interested in writing about humanitarianism, NGOs, human rights, imperialism, decolonisation, legacies of empire, development, globalisation, and immigration.

I currently teach:

European and world history : Imperial and Global History , 1750-1930