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The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies


The Ferguson Centre promotes the interdisciplinary study of empire and postcolonial conditions with a particular focus on Africa and Asia. Since its establishment in 2002, it has hosted seminars, exchanges, postgraduates and run collaborative research projects.

Members have contributed to the writing of a range of current Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences courses including:  A326 Empire 1492-1975; A300 20th century literature: texts and debates; A215 Creative writing; A815 MA English; A230 Reading and studying literature. Members have also contributed to previous courses including: AA316 The nineteeth-century novel; A180 Heritage, whose heritage?; AD281 Understanding global heritage.

Centre Director: Dr Sandip Hazareesingh
Assistant Director: Dr John Slight



OpenTALKS: John Slight ‘British Imperialist Visions of Islamic States’

As The Open University celebrates its 50th anniversary, join us for our History lecture series which opens a window onto the exciting research being conducted by historians at The Open University. The next talk is on 3rd April 16:30-17:30 in Berrill Lecture Theatre by John Slight on ‘British Imperialist Visions of Islamic States’. Can't join in person? Watch the event live online (* link will be live just before the event.)

‘This talk will explain how Britain’s imperial attempts to manipulate Islam in the nineteenth century ultimately failed.’

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Researching Empire in 2019: representations, impacts, and legacies

Friday 12 July 2019, Meeting Room 12, Wilson A, The Open University, Milton Keynes

Over the last three decades, writing and researching Empire has experienced a renaissance and is more stimulating and relevant than ever. As a consequence, public discourse around the representation, impact, and legacies of Empire has turned progressively febrile; ‘…a powerful testimony to the Empire’s continuing capacity to shape our future’s as well as our yesterdays.’ (Andrew Thompson, 2005). This workshop brings together postgraduate research students pursuing doctoral research within this exciting field, and working across disciplines including Imperial History, Military History, Museum Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Literary Studies. Each panel deals with one more of these three themes, and each paper offers an interdisciplinary perspective. The event aims to provide a platform for research students to share their work and receive feedback from expert scholars working across Empire and postcolonial studies at the Open University.


Welcome by Dr John Slight (OU)

Samuel Aylett (OU): Getting out from under the City: Empire at the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands

Matthew Jones (Sussex): Curating and Memorialising Empire: the epistemic shift in curating the British Slave Trade

Tom Probert (OU/IWM): Morale and the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960)        

Michael Duffy (Southampton): Excremental Exceptions: Shit and Postcolonial Sovereignty in Zia-ul-Haq’s Pakistan

Sophie Montebello (OU) title tbc

Concluding remarks by Prof. Karl Hack (OU)

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The British Empire and the HAJJ book cover

New publication

The British Empire and the Hajj, 1865-1956 by John Slight, Harvard University Press, 2015.

Find out more about this book

Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque), Arab Street, Singapore (2007). Photo: Karl Hack

Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque), Arab Street, Singapore (2007). Photo: Karl Hack

Egyptian Prime Minister Abdel Nasser with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the Bandung Conference, Indonesia, 1955

Egyptian Prime Minister Abdel Nasser with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at the Bandung Conference, Indonesia, 1955