Imperial Emotions

The Politics of Empathy across the British Empire

Imperial Emotions

Emotions are not universal, but are experienced and expressed in diverse ways within different cultures and times. This overview of the history of emotions within nineteenth-century British imperialism focuses on the role of the compassionate emotions, or what today we refer to as empathy, and how they created relations across empire. Les mer
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Imperial Emotions

Emotions are not universal, but are experienced and expressed in diverse ways within different cultures and times. This overview of the history of emotions within nineteenth-century British imperialism focuses on the role of the compassionate emotions, or what today we refer to as empathy, and how they created relations across empire. Jane Lydon examines how empathy was produced, qualified and contested, including via the fear and anger aroused by frontier violence. She reveals the overlooked emotional dimensions of relationships constructed between Britain, her Australasian colonies, and Indigenous people, showing that ideas about who to care about were frequently drawn from the intimate domestic sphere, but were also developed through colonial experience. This history reveals the contingent and highly politicised nature of emotions in imperial deployment. Moving beyond arguments that emotions such as empathy are either 'good' or 'bad', this study evaluates their concrete political uses and effects.

List of figures; Acknowledgements; Introduction: emotions and empire; 1. Children of empire: British nationalism and colonial utopias; 2. Colonial 'blind spots': images of frontier conflict; 3. Australian Uncle Tom's Cabins; 4. The homeless of empire? Imperial outcasts in Bleak House; 5. Christian heroes on the new frontier; 6. Charity begins at home? Philanthropy, magic lantern slides and missionary performances; 7. The Republican debate and popular royalism: 'a strange reluctance to actually shout at the Queen'; Bibliography; Index.

Examines the politicisation of empathy across the British empire during the nineteenth century and traces its legacies into the present.

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