Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David S. Reynolds

Subject Categories

Asian History | European History | Latin American History | Other American Studies | Other History | United States History


American Empire, ancient China, Ancient Rome, Mongols, Mughals, colonial Empires


This paper outlines two different threads in the historiography of empires regarding their treatment of “the other.” The first thread begins with the early Chinese empires, the Qin and Han, which used diplomacy and tributes as well as repression to incorporate “others” under their imperial umbrellas. This thread was then picked up and modified later by the Mongols and Mughals, both of which showed a fair amount of flexibility and openness towards cultural difference. The second thread begins with the Romans (the Republic and Empire), who were largely flexible and inclusive towards “others” until the late Empire, when Christianity took over and Rome’s longstanding practice of religious pluralism was replaced with monotheism. While the Romans were relatively tolerant towards “others” for much of their existence, it was this later intolerance born out of monotheism that became its legacy – and lesson – for future empires seeking to recreate Rome. The Spanish and British Empires are examined in Rome’s wake, with each empire demonstrating a decreasing openness to diversity and increased tendency towards racism. The final chapter puts the United States in this second thread, arguing that this intolerance toward “the other” becomes codified during the Revolutionary War as a way to solidify support for independence, with this exclusive view of empire, particularly with regards to race, continuing in various forms throughout the American Empire and into the present.

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