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Trollopian “Foreign Policy”: Rootedness and Cosmopolitanism in the Mid-Victorian Global Imaginary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Abstract

Focusing on the prolific mid-Victorian writing of Anthony Trollope, this essay takes present-day theoretical interest in “actually existing cosmopolitanism” for its cue. Trollope's works remind us that from a Victorian perspective, the word cosmopolitan was more likely to evoke the impersonal structures of capitalism and imperialism than an ethos of tolerance, world citizenship, or multiculturalism. Trollope wrote novels eulogizing England's rootedness alongside first-person accounts of colonial travel, making him the arch exemplar of a two-party foreign policy discourse. Whereas Barsetshire novels such as The Warden are archetypes of autoethnographic fiction, Trollope's travel writings construct a transportable mode of racialized Anglo-Saxonness. Evoking the asymmetrical play between two notions of property—heirloom “rootedness” and capitalist “cosmopolitanism”—Trollope's foreign policy imaginary illuminates the difficulties of a genuinely negotiated rooted cosmopolitanism. Exploration of the nineteenth century's actually existing cosmopolitanisms offers the opportunity to historicize the transnational contexts and experiences of an era in which capitalist and imperial expansion was as dynamic as the globalizing processes of our own day.

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Victorian Cluster
Copyright
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2009

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