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A Self Contained British Empire in Metals


Economic History Society Francesca Carnevali Grant




Dr. Andrew Perchard


This project explores attempts after the First World War to organise a British imperial minerals strategy, to ensure British control over the mineral reserves of the Empire. This resulted directly from concerns raised immediately before and during the War about access to vital materials to conduct and sustain a modern war effort, and about enemy access to imperial resources. This linked leading businessmen and politicians across the empire. These firms and the trade provide rich insights into business and politics, global markets and international relations. Amongst its principle objectives are to understand the legacy of these policies on global markets, national economic development, and international politics. Crucially, the project more broadly highlights the role of business in politics, and the firm as an arm of policy. Perchard has also been collaborating with Professor Roy M. Macleod, University of Sydney, and Professor Jeremy Mouat, University of Alberta, on this work. As well as scholarly outputs, one of the objectives is to develop a large bid to extend this work. It links to Perchard’s prior work in the field, and his ongoing project “Empires in Metal” (about corporate political activity in the “Anglo-Saxon” world.


Concerns over security of supply of vital raw materials continue to exercise a profound effect on global markets and international politics. Metals are ubiquitous to everyday life (yet remain largely overlooked) but exercise a profound effect on international trade and market volatility, regional security, and the environment. The metals trade provides valuable insights into the evolution of global markets, persistent trade inequalities, and territorial claims, which can be seen on a daily basis, as reflected in concerns raised by the UN, the World Bank, and financial authorities (like the Bank of England). It also links to the ambitions of the international collaborative network which he established and directs with Drs Mats Ingulstad and Espen Storli at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the History and Strategic Raw Materials Initiative (HSRMI), which is intended to encourage the recognition of the value of history to policy decisions over security of raw materials supply, and dialogue between disciplines over these pressing societal concerns.

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