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Ted Svensson and Agustín Goenaga receive three-year grant from the Swedish Research Council for the project "Imperial Capacity: Studying the Impacts of Colonial Bureaucracies on State Development"

Ted Svensson and Agustín Goenaga, photo.
Associate Professors Ted Svensson and Agustín Goenaga, Lund University.

Congratulations on the grant!


 Previous research has offered important insights about the instruments that states use to govern their populations. It has also shown that colonial experiences had far-reaching consequences for contemporary levels of political and economic development. However, we know less about the specific instruments that empires used to govern colonial territories and how those governance strategies shaped the development of imperial and post-colonial states in the long run. 

Drawing on new primary data, cutting-edge methods in computational social science, and in-depth archival research, this project will answer these questions by analyzing the evolution of the colonial bureaucracies of the British Empire in Africa and the Caribbean from 1854 to 1945, and their impact on the development of state institutions in both the United Kingdom and the colonial territories after decolonization. 

To this end, we will:

  1. develop the concept of "imperial capacity" to denote the instruments that empires used to project their power abroad and govern foreign populations; 
  2. provide an empirical measure of imperial capacity for a sample of British colonies at the height of the empire, based on new primary data from the British Colonial Office;
  3. explain how differences in imperial capacity across British colonies shaped patterns of political development in those areas after decolonization; and 
  4. examine the impact of investments in imperial capacity on the development of British state institutions.

To Ted Svensson's personal page

To Agustín Goenaga's personal page

Porträttbild av Sarai Ikenze
Dr. Sarai-Anne Ikenze

Ted Svensson (PI) and Agustín Goenaga will work together with Sarai-Anne Ikenze (former PhD student with us, currently working as Visiting Assistant Professor at Providence College – see