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Colonial Tours: The Leisure and Anxiety of Empire in Travel Writing from Java, Ceylon and the Straits Settlements, 1840-1875

Dates:
  • Fri 11 Oct 2019 10.00 - 12.00
  Add to Calendar 2019-10-11 10:00 2019-10-11 12:00 Europe/Paris Colonial Tours: The Leisure and Anxiety of Empire in Travel Writing from Java, Ceylon and the Straits Settlements, 1840-1875

This thesis examines the development and transformation of mid-nineteenth-century colonialism on Dutch Java and the British colonies of Ceylon and the Straits Settlements through a carefully contextualized, critical analysis of the corpus of popular colonial travel writing published on these areas in Dutch and English in the period. The analysis is undertaken on two levels: on the one hand, through a close reading of a body of about twenty travel books and the representation of colonial societies therein; and on the other, through a consideration of the concrete changes that were taking place on the ground and the corresponding debates within communities and on the pages of the colonial press. What emerges from the exercise is a significant double movement in nineteenth-century imperialism, whereby an influx of European newcomers – settlers, officials, soldiers etc. that moved into the region in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by rapid administrative and territorial expansion – disrupted the pre-existing norms and habits of established colonial elites; and, while doing so, employed the genre of popular travel writing as a tool to firmly establish and legitimise the new conception of empire they represented on a cultural level. The genre, seemingly frivolous but in fact intensely political, deliberately employed the characteristics of the tourist culture then fashionable in Europe in order to transpose metropolitan cultural and social norms on colonial life, doing away with the tropes of imperial adventure and tropical exoticism prevalent in the travel writing of the preceding decades. The analysis focuses specifically on how this new mode of colonial leisure related to and modified understandings of three themes: the so-called social and cultural anxieties of empire; the emerging and increasingly professionalised colonial sciences; and the contemporary notions of race and racial boundaries.

Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

This thesis examines the development and transformation of mid-nineteenth-century colonialism on Dutch Java and the British colonies of Ceylon and the Straits Settlements through a carefully contextualized, critical analysis of the corpus of popular colonial travel writing published on these areas in Dutch and English in the period. The analysis is undertaken on two levels: on the one hand, through a close reading of a body of about twenty travel books and the representation of colonial societies therein; and on the other, through a consideration of the concrete changes that were taking place on the ground and the corresponding debates within communities and on the pages of the colonial press. What emerges from the exercise is a significant double movement in nineteenth-century imperialism, whereby an influx of European newcomers – settlers, officials, soldiers etc. that moved into the region in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by rapid administrative and territorial expansion – disrupted the pre-existing norms and habits of established colonial elites; and, while doing so, employed the genre of popular travel writing as a tool to firmly establish and legitimise the new conception of empire they represented on a cultural level. The genre, seemingly frivolous but in fact intensely political, deliberately employed the characteristics of the tourist culture then fashionable in Europe in order to transpose metropolitan cultural and social norms on colonial life, doing away with the tropes of imperial adventure and tropical exoticism prevalent in the travel writing of the preceding decades. The analysis focuses specifically on how this new mode of colonial leisure related to and modified understandings of three themes: the so-called social and cultural anxieties of empire; the emerging and increasingly professionalised colonial sciences; and the contemporary notions of race and racial boundaries.


Location:
Sala del Camino, Villa Salviati

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Defendant:
Mikko Samuli Toivanen (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)

Supervisor:
Jorge Flores (European University Institute)

Examiner:
Lucy Riall (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Mark Frost (University of Essex)
Marieke Bloembergen (Leiden University)

Contact:
Fabrizio Borchi (EUI - Department of History and Civilization) - Send a mail
 
 

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