Oxford backs historian after he’s criticized for saying guilt around British colonialism may have gone too far

Historians in the News
tags: colonialism, britain, Nigel Biggar

Oxford University has defended a professor after he was denounced by students as “bigoted” for writing a column in The Times in which he argued that guilt around British colonialism may have gone too far.

Nigel Biggar, regius professor of moral and pastoral theology, wrote that “strident anti-colonialists” could lead to a feeling of guilt which makes the public “vulnerable to wilful manipulation”.

Common Ground, a race rights group based in Oxford, yesterday described the column as “racist” and accused Professor Biggar of “whitewashing” the British empire.

A letter on the group’s website said “we stand in solidarity” with the those who have criticised Professor Biggar following his article.

They said the academic “implies that colonised societies had no political order prior to colonisation, invoking a racist, hackneyed, and fictional trope about the nature of pre-colonial societies”.

The campaign criticised the academic’s role in leading the university’s project on “Ethics and Empire”, which is analysing the impact of Britain’s imperial past. “We believe Nigel Biggar has shown himself to be an inauspicious and inappropriate leader for this project,” the group wrote.

It also criticised Professor Biggar, director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life, for making a speech at the Oxford Union during which he defended Cecil Rhodes in the face of calls for a statue of the “British imperialist” to be removed from the university. ...

Read entire article at The Times (London)

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