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The Wiles Lectures in 2013 were given by Professor Robert Gildea.

Robert Gildea, FBA, is a Fellow of Worcester College and Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. His four-lecture series were given on 15 to 18 May 2013 at Queen's University Belfast, on the topic:

'Remembering and Repetition in France: Defeat, Colonialism and Resistance since 1940'

These lectures explore the interplay of two narratives of recent French history: one of Resistance and Liberation, the other of the recovery and loss of Empire.

They argue that the painful experience of defeat in 1940 drove the French to recover imperial greatness at any cost, and to attempt to prevent similar experiences of loss, rather than to think through their position in a world that had radically changed in 1945. They examine how the story of Resistance and Liberation both underpinned this search for Empire, and provided a critique of colonialism, legitimising the struggles of subject peoples and later of immigrant communities.

The four lectures adopt a longitudinal approach, linking French history from 1940 to current concerns. They focus on successive episodes of a debate that extends from the Second World War to the Indochinese and Algerian wars, and from controversies around 1968 to the postcolonial ‘memory wars’ of the last twenty-five years.

 Click on the links below for summaries of the lectures and links to lecture podcasts:

Lecture 1. Resistance, Liberation and Empire, 1940-1945 (Wednesday 15 May at 5pm, Room G07 Peter Froggatt Centre)

Lecture 2. Empire replayed, Resistance changes sides, 1945-1962 (Thursday 16 May at 5pm, Room G07 Peter Froggatt Centre)

Lecture 3. Resistance, Third Worldism and the echoes of Empire (Friday 17 May at 5pm, Room G07 Peter Froggatt Centre)

Lecture 4. Memory Wars: the Holocaust, Resistance and Colonialism (Saturday 18 May at 11am, Room G07 Peter Froggatt Centre)


Wiles Lectures Guests 2013.

The lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the History office at or tel. 028 90975101.

The Lectures were published as Empires of the Mind: The Colonial Past and the Politics of the Present (CUP, 2019)