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Fragmented Empire: Popular Imperialism in the Netherlands around the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Dates:
  • Mon 26 Feb 2018 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2018-02-26 10:00 2018-02-26 12:00 Europe/Paris Fragmented Empire: Popular Imperialism in the Netherlands around the Turn of the Twentieth Century

This study examines popular imperial culture in The Netherlands around the turn of the twentieth century. In various and sometimes unexpected places in civil society the empire played a prominent role, and was key in mobilizing people for causes that were directly and indirectly related to the Dutch overseas colonies. At the same time, however, the empire was ostensibly absent from people’s minds. Except for some jingoist outbursts during the Aceh War and the Boer War, indifference seems to be the main attitude with which imperial affairs were greeted. How could the empire simultaneously be present and absent in metropolitan life? Drawing upon the works of scholars from fields ranging from postcolonial studies to Habsburg imperialism, I argue here that indifference to empire was not an anomaly of the idea of an all-permeating imperial culture, but the consequence of imperial ideas that rendered metropole and colony as firmly separated entities. The different groups and individuals that advocated imperial or anti-imperial causes – such as missionaries, former colonials, Indonesian students, and boy scouts – hardly ever related to each other explicitly and had their own distinctive modes of expression, but were nonetheless part of what I call a fragmented empire, and shared the common thread of Dutch imperial ideology. This suggests we should not take this culture’s invisibility for a lack of strength.

Sala degli Stemmi - Villa Salviati- Castle DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala degli Stemmi - Villa Salviati- Castle

This study examines popular imperial culture in The Netherlands around the turn of the twentieth century. In various and sometimes unexpected places in civil society the empire played a prominent role, and was key in mobilizing people for causes that were directly and indirectly related to the Dutch overseas colonies. At the same time, however, the empire was ostensibly absent from people’s minds. Except for some jingoist outbursts during the Aceh War and the Boer War, indifference seems to be the main attitude with which imperial affairs were greeted. How could the empire simultaneously be present and absent in metropolitan life? Drawing upon the works of scholars from fields ranging from postcolonial studies to Habsburg imperialism, I argue here that indifference to empire was not an anomaly of the idea of an all-permeating imperial culture, but the consequence of imperial ideas that rendered metropole and colony as firmly separated entities. The different groups and individuals that advocated imperial or anti-imperial causes – such as missionaries, former colonials, Indonesian students, and boy scouts – hardly ever related to each other explicitly and had their own distinctive modes of expression, but were nonetheless part of what I call a fragmented empire, and shared the common thread of Dutch imperial ideology. This suggests we should not take this culture’s invisibility for a lack of strength.


Location:
Sala degli Stemmi - Villa Salviati- Castle

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Francesca Parenti - Send a mail

Examiner:
Laura Downs (EUI)
Remco Raben (University of Utrecht)
Elizabeth Buettner (University of Amsterdam)

Supervisor:
Pieter Judson

Defendant:
Matthijs Kuipers

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