Imperial expectations and realities

El Dorados, utopias and dystopias

Edited by Andrekos Varnava

Imperial expectations and realities

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9786-7
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: September 2015
  • BIC Category: Modern History, History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, European history, Colonialism & imperialism, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Folklore & Mythology, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Popular Beliefs & Controversial Knowledge, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


This volume explores how imperial powers established and expanded their empires through decisions that were often based on exaggerated expectations and wishful thinking, rather than on reasoned and scientific policies. It explores these exaggerations through the concepts of El Dorado, utopias and dystopias - undertakings based on irrational perceived values - in case studies from across the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, and incorporates imperial traditions including Scottish, British, French, German, Italian and American. Various colonial spaces are considered, from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas, and in doing so, the contributors offer new insights into the nature of imperialism and colonial settlement.


1. El Dorados, utopias and dystopias in imperialism and colonial settlement - Andrekos Varnava
2. Darién and the psychology of Scottish adventurism in the 1690s - Eric Richards
3. Greek expectations: Britain and the Ionian Islands, 1815-64 - Leslie Rogne Schumacher
4. Bambuk gold: General Faidherbe's Senegalese chimera - Leland Conley Barrows
5. Salubrity and the survival of the Swan River Colony: health, climate and settlement in colonial Western Australia - Ruth Morgan
6. Germany's El Dorado in the Pacific: metropolitan representations and colonial realities, 1870-1930 - Holger Droessler
7. A place to speak the language of heaven? Patagonia as a land of broken Welsh promise - Trevor Harris
8. Between heaven and earth: the German Templar colonies in Palestine - Matthew Fitzpatrick and Felicity Jensz
9. Italy's sexual El Dorado in Africa - Daniela Baratieri
10. Dreaming in the desert: Libya as Italy's Promised Land, 1911-70 - Giuseppe Finaldi
11. The British Mesopotamian El Dorado: the restoration of the Garden of Eden - Ann Matters
12. Shattered Images: French Indochina as a failed symbolic resource - John Hennessey
Select bibliography


Andrekos Varnava is a Senior Lecturer in Imperial and Military History at Flinders University

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