An encultured imperialism: British travel writing from the post-Napoleonic Atlantic periphery

BURKE, Steven John (2021). An encultured imperialism: British travel writing from the post-Napoleonic Atlantic periphery. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis examines two selections of published travel writings produced between 1816 and 1831, analysing the encultured attitudes, beliefs, prejudices, and agendas of eight aspiring careerist white British men as they travelled and served in regions on the Atlantic peripheries of British influence. The theatres in question were the Gold Coast in West Africa and the neighbouring Asante Empire, all encountered under the aegis of official or quasi-official British authority, and the region of New Spain encompassing Venezuela and Columbia in South America, all conducted privately as mercenaries on the part of the revolutionary Patriot cause against Imperial Spain. Whether serving in the uniforms of British state institutions or the Venezuelan Republic, these individuals produced accounts of their experiences that more effectively reflected their encultured British National-Imperial worldview than any objective description of the transitional cultures they encountered. I begin the thesis by exploring the cultural context of their travels and publications, the relationship of these to the wider issues of an emerging British Imperial worldview, and a conceptual definition of encultured imperialism as a form of pre-eminent performative engagement with the wider world. Chapter 1 expands on the backgrounds and motivations of the authors in pursuing their service or adventures, within the context of British domestic understandings of the two theatres they visited. Chapter 2 discusses their use of trends and conventions of engagement with landscape and environment, including their efforts to familiarise the exotic as a step towards imagining its subordination to British knowledge. Chapter 3 considers the authors’ evaluations of human geographies, with the further imperative of subordinating other infrastructural and geographical cultures to a projection of British ‘improvement’. In Chapter 4, the focus turns fully on people and these authors’ uses of established and developing hierarchies of difference including tropes of savagery and civilisation, and emergent concepts of scientific racism. Chapter 5 incorporates the influence of encultured conceptions of gender on human difference to complete the analysis of the exclusionary practices of the authors’ self-confident National-Imperial worldview.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Collins, Bruce [0000-0002-4521-6302]
Thesis advisor - Aitken, Robbie [0000-0002-3332-3063]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Prof. Bruce Collins / Thesis supervisor: Prof. Robbie Aitken.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 13:22
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:07

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