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From the moment Christopher Columbus used the tinkling of a hawk’s bell to excite the interest of the welcoming Taínos during the First Encounter, music became a weapon of both conquest and resistance in the struggle for America. Here we are introduced to the nightmare of the Spanish conquest as reflected in the recovered Aztec songs of the Cantares mexicanos describing the massacres at Tenochtitlan and Cholula in the 1520s. Following the Spanish mission to Christianize America through the imposition of church music against the holdouts of Indigenous song, the European scramble for the “New World” introduces British explorations of Canada and musical encounters with the Inuits – sometimes against a background of violence, and sometimes in a tenuous moment of peace.
Chapter 1 explores the campaigns of Cecilia John, Meredith Atkinson and the Save the Children Fund, which in Australia was formed in 1919. John established an Australian branch after attending the Women’s International Peace Congress in Zurich in 1919 with feminist Vida Goldstein, where she witnessed the horror of images of starving children in Europe, which left an indelible impact on her. A biographical study of John provides a framework through which to bring together disparate parts of her life that have been studied in isolation. Previously, her national and international efforts have been discussed separately. Integrating these studies has revealed, I argue, not a continuum of political ideals but contradictions. During the First World War, John critiqued the British Empire for draining the blood of Australia’s men on the battlefields of Europe, but after the war, she eulogised the Empire for rescuing starving and destitute children through Save the Children. She appears not to bring these politics into Save the Children, however, focusing instead on the desperate plight of starving children in an apolitical framework. The emotive, apolitical appeal of rescuing starving children seemingly sat without the complications of her earlier proclamations. Privileging sentimentality in the cause of destitute children, void of political or critical analysis, was a challenge the journalist and educator Meredith Atkinson encountered too, as he attempted to promote the cause of Russian children caught in the civil war.
Chapter 5 explores how Australia’s participation in the Children’s Overseas Reception Board scheme reinforced imperial ties and was seen as vital to Australia’s contribution to the war effort. Britain’s children were seen as Australia’s children, and the Australian government at the time enthusiastically embraced the scheme. But the scheme did this by more than simply accepting children – it was overtly racialised. Even before children departed, they were meticulously screened to establish who was eligible for the scheme. The unanimous support for the scheme was, I argue, premised on the narrative of emotions evoked by child evacuation and was framed by the constructed emotional bonds between the family of nations that connected countries to the values and aspirations of the British Empire.
The development of a scientific economic discourse and the expansion of the financial system and markets across the nineteenth century and through the British Empire proved to be rich sources of inspiration to novelists and poets. Fictional writers not only explored the themes of stock market crashes, imperial investments, industrial expansion, gambling and risk taking, fraudulent currencies, and bank failures, but also the failure of political economy to account properly for the inadequacies of the economic system and the people who fell victim to those failures. Examining the interplay, interaction, and coconstitution of literary and economic discourses in the nineteenth century, this chapter demonstrates the celebratory and critical ways economic writers, essayists, novelists, and poets represented and responded to political economy’s evolution. Reading the history of economic thought alongside the literary texts of the nineteenth century – this chapter argues – reveals their shared investments in value, representation, and human desires.
In the nineteenth century, Qajar Iran was beset by both internal and external threats to its cohesion. In considering Qajar responses to this condition of threat, scholars have largely emphasized the rise of nationalism and a traumatic encounter with Europe. In this article, instead, I use the two Khuzestan travel narratives of royal engineer Najm al-Molk to draw out an alternative thread of reform discourse based on comparisons and connections with the Ottoman Empire. In his safarnamehs, Najm al-Molk joined the style and preoccupations of modern engineering to existing Persianate discourses on rule to elaborate the concept of abadi, a social, political, and material condition encompassing land, people, and state. His advocacy for making Khuzestan abadan was aimed at integrating the region more fully into the Qajar domains. In thinking about what constituted abadi and why it was missing in Khuzestan, the engineer’s major reference point was Ottoman Basra. Traveling around the Basra-Khuzestan borderlands helped Najm al-Molk frame the Ottoman Empire as an example for the Qajar future and a factor in producing the Qajar present. The article both analyzes and follows Najm al-Molk’s use of comparison in order to draw out a broader imperial comparison between late imperial rule in the Ottoman and Qajar lands. I argue that taking seriously Najm al-Molk’s view that the Qajars and Ottomans were comparable can help us use their peripheries to understand late Qajar history outside the national frame of “Iran.”
The Introduction makes an argument for the importance of disability as an analytical category and sets out an agenda for doing this work. The basis of this argument lies both in the historiographical demand for this kind of analysis, and the historical, political and theoretical importance of including disability as a key concept in discussions of the nineteenth-century British empire. The relationship between disability and race is an element to this and historical examples are used to demonstrate this argument. The introduction also defines key terms that are used throughout such as ‘disability’, ‘disablism’, ‘ableism’ and sketches out the scope and structure of the book.
The previous chapter outlined the personal, institutional, and political dynamics that played a part in Alberico Gentili’s nineteenth-century revival, in particular the emergence of the academic discipline of international law and the crafting of a historical narrative about its past. What we have yet to uncover is the specific story that emerged about Gentili’s greatness in his nineteenth-century context. In Chapter 3, we saw that in the aftermath of his death, Gentili had been remembered primarily for his absolutist writings. Two and a half centuries later, what story did his revivers tell to justify celebrating him as a founder of international law? This chapter argues that nineteenth-century international lawyers painted Gentili as the man who had invented the modern definition of war. In doing so, they gave us a popular narrative about the history of the laws of war that has prevented us from appreciating the profound changes that occurred in the regulation of war in course of the nineteenth century.
War of Words argues that the conflicts that erupted over French colonial territory between 1940 and 1945 are central to understanding British, Vichy and Free French policy-making throughout the war. By analysing the rhetoric that surrounded these clashes, Rachel Chin demonstrates that imperial holdings were valued as more than material and strategic resources. They were formidable symbols of power, prestige and national legitimacy. She shows that having and holding imperial territory was at the core of competing Vichy and Free French claims to represent the true French nation and that opposing images of Franco-British cooperation and rivalry were at the heart of these arguments. The selected case studies show how British-Vichy-Free French relations evolved throughout the war and demonstrate that the French colonial empire played a decisive role in these shifts.
This essay situates the rise of US empire in the nineteenth century within a longer, transnational, and transoceanic colonial project that has been continuously catastrophic – from the arrival of Columbus to the threats of climate change and nuclear disaster – for both Indigenous societies and nonhuman ecosystems. The essay shows how such ecological and geopolitical disruptions were central to both US nation-building and the development of an American national literature, while at the same time highlighting the causal relation and essential continuity between the extractive enterprises and imperial expansionism of the early United States and the planetary crises of the twenty-first century.
“American Empire” explores how the interplay between imperialism and race shaped early American politics, literature, and culture. Through a series of close readings of works by Phillis Wheatley, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur, William Apess, and James Fenimore Cooper, the essay shows how early American writers wrestled with the continuities and discontinuities between some of the most important concepts that shaped the young republic, in particular the tensions between democracy, empire, freedom, slavery, and race. These internal contradictions between the ideals espoused in political documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and The Federalist, and the policies of racial exploitation and dispossession that drove the nation’s expansionist economic agenda, would come to shape the most important literary works of the day. Writers like Wheatley, Crèvecœur, Apess, and Cooper would seek to make sense of those contradictions in their writings, a legacy that would carry on through the nineteenth century and into the current moment.
The first chapter claims that the imperial fiction of Joseph Conrad and William Faulkner rejects accounting as a totalizing logic, and by extension, questions the English novel’s complicity in propagating that false logic. Accounting, which had remained unobtrusively immanent to realist novels of empire, surfaces to the diegetic level in a classic instance of a thematization of the device and becomes available for critical contemplation. Drawing from Max Weber, Mary Poovey, and Georg Lukács, I attend in particular to the dandy accountant of Heart of Darkness, the accretive narrative structure of Nostromo, and Shreve’s recasting of Sutpen’s life as a debtor’s farce in Absalom, Absalom! If Conrad equates accounting with lying, Faulkner reveals secrets elided in rows of debit and credit one by one as sensational truths; to those ends, both writers invoke Gothic conventions. By dispatching the totalizing technique that had been invented by early modern merchants and finessed by realist novelists to generate faith in a transnational fiduciary community, Conrad and Faulkner impel the discovery of original forms with which to express the modern transnational world order.
Chapter 2 of Earthopolis: A Biography of Our Urban Planet discusses the crucial role of cities in building empires, defined as states that conquer and rule multiple cities and their hinterlands. It also argues that empires decisively influenced the size and shape of cities. While it acknowledges that camp- and village-dwelling peoples could conquer large empires, it argues that imperial regimes always required capital cities to administer empires over long periods. It illustrates these arguments with references to cities throughout the world: imperial capitals, administrative and monumental structures of many kinds, city walls, provincial capitals, armies and army camps, roads, canals, settler cities, and the infrastructure of imperial borders, including the Great Wall of China and the limes of the Roman Empire.
The introduction sets down the blueprint and specifies how the argument builds upon existing understandings of the novel. Taking as my starting point the critical reluctance to acknowledge Defoe as the first English novelist, I trace the interdependence of Enlightenment thought, accounting practices, and literary realism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I also offer an overview of how theories of the novel have depended on the conceptual scaffolding of the antinomy. Long deployed by philosophers to structure unwieldy abstractions, the antinomy functioned also as tool to grasp the most diffuse of literary forms. Hence theorists as various as Erich Auerbach, Georg Lukács, Michael McKeon, and Frederic Jameson all posit that the novel is built in the tense field opened between opposing forces. By contrast, Adorno’s model of the Leibnizian monad asserts that art is always already tainted by the outside world, partly constituted by empirical logic. Over the more popular antinomic construction, I follow Adorno’s conception of art as absorptive monad . I further explain the book’s focus on select Anglophone writers and the three prerequisites for aspiring to speak for the world.
The Introduction explains the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the evolution of the border between the two from the colonial period through the twentieth century. It focuses on the transformation of the border that began with the US occupation and culminated in the genocidal policy of Trujillo. The Introduction presents the ways in which Trujillo’s government confronted the contradictory problem posed by a population that the state recognized as Dominican citizens, but that the state rejected as ethnically and racially undesireable. It demonstrates that the perpetrators of the 1937 Haitian Massacre understood that they were unleashing violence against their own citizens, and not only immigrants and squatters. It considers the 1937 Haitian Massacre in light of its remarkable absence within the evolving field of genocide studies, as well as its comparative significance in relationship to other twentieth-century histories of anti-Black violence in the Americas.
The institutional, social, and theological rise of an imperial-episcopal orthodoxy in the 4th-century Roman Empire transformed the productive, if not always genial, scriptural and ritual interactions among Jews and Christians in previous centuries into a discourse of theological difference, enabling violence and exclusion.
The Late Modernist Novel explores how the novel reinvented itself for a Modernist age, a world riven by war and capitalist expansion. Seo Hee Im argues that the Anglophone novel first had to disassociate itself from the modern nation-state and, by extension, national history, which had anchored the genre from its very inception. Existing studies of modernism show how the novel responded to the crisis in the national idea. Polyglot high modernists experimented with cosmopolitanism and multilingualism on the level of style, while the late modernists retreated to a literary nativism. This book explores a younger generation of writers that incorporated empirical structures as theme and form to expand the genre beyond the nation-state.
The circulation and republication of Christian Roman laws on Jews and Judaism gives us a window into the ways imperial attention to the Jewish “other” – sometimes benevolent, sometimes punitive – created multiple paths for the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Laws on economic status, social interaction, and religious custom ultimately produced a Jewish “religion” analogous to imperial Christianity.