The end of colonial rule in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean stands as one of the most important and most dramatic chapters in the history of the twentieth century. Dozens of new actors emerged in world politics in the decades following World War II. Centuries-old empires fell, some more or less peacefully, others amid massive violence. This book provides a concise overview of decolonization and its long-term consequences. It presents decolonization as a coherent yet multidimensional process at the heart of modern history.

Jan Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel trace the retreat of European, North American, and Japanese imperial rule from World War I to the 1990s. Adopting a comparative perspective, they illuminate the central aspects of decolonization while also taking account of the particularities of the different regional and imperial contexts. The authors demonstrate that the decolonization process had its roots in the interwar period, and that the geo-political restructuring was closely linked to a fundamental shift in the norms of world politics. They analyze the economic consequences of decolonization and their impact upon international power structures, and they consider the impact of decolonization on notions of world order and the long shadow decolonization has cast over the new states and former colonial powers alike. 

Decolonization: A Short History is a substantially revised and expanded version of a monograph originally published in German. In conjunction with the preparation of the English edition, Jan C. Jansen published a number of additional contributions to research on the history of decolonization.

Related Publications


Jan C. Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel. Decolonization: A Short History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017 [Paperback, 2019].

Jan C. Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel. Dekolonisation: Das Ende der Imperien. 1st ed. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2013; special ed., Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 2014.

Chinese Edition: Diguo zhuyi de mori. Taipei: Maotouying chuban bu/Owl Publishing House, 2019.