Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-1867

TitleCivilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-1867
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsHall, Catherine
Number of Pages574
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press

Civilising Subjects argues that the empire was at the heart of nineteenth-century Englishness. English men and women in the mid-nineteenth century imagined themselves at the centre of a great empire and a sense of the other provided ways of knowing who was 'civilised' and who was 'savage'. The book tells intertwined stories of a particular group of Englishmen and women who constructed themselves as colonisers. One story focuses on the Baptist missionaries in Jamaica and their efforts to build a new society in the wake of emancipation. Disillusionment followed as it emerged that the making of 'new selves' was not as simple as they had thought. The second story tells the tale of 'the midland metropolis', Birmingham, and the ways in which its culture was infused with empire. Abolitionist enthusiasm dominated the town in the 1830s but by the 1860s the identity of 'friend of the negro' had been superseded by a harsher racial vocabulary. These two detailed studies, of Birmingham and Jamaica, are set within their wider context: the making of metropole and colony and of coloniser and colonised. [Wiley]

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