Rhetorics of empire

Languages of colonial conflict after 1900

Edited by Martin Thomas and Richard Toye

Rhetorics of empire


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2048-9
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: August 2017
  • BIC Category: Semantics, discourse analysis, stylistics, Colonialism & imperialism, 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999, HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Discourse analysis, Modern History, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, History
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


Stirring language and appeals to collective action were integral to the battles fought to defend empires and to destroy them. These wars of words used rhetoric to make their case. That rhetoric is the subject of this collection of essays exploring the arguments fought over empire in a wide variety of geographic, political, social and cultural contexts. Why did imperialist language remain so pervasive in Britain, France and elsewhere throughout much of the twentieth century? What rhetorical devices did political leaders, administrators, investors and lobbyists use to justify colonial domination before domestic and foreign audiences? How far did their colonial opponents mobilize a different rhetoric of rights and freedoms to challenge them? These questions are at the heart of this collection. Essays range from Theodore Roosevelt's articulation of American imperialism in the early 1900s to the rhetorical battles surrounding European decolonization in the late twentieth century.


'It is a pleasure to read a volume in which rhetoric is subject to such sustained scrutiny across such a wide range of modern imperial contexts.I would simply direct readers to an engaging collection of high-quality chapters focused on subjecting a single theme to sustained and invigorating scrutiny.'
Christopher Prior, University of Southampton, Journal of contemporary History, Vol. 54, No. 2


Introduction: rhetorics of empire - Martin Thomas and Richard Toye
1 'The people are grateful': the discourse of modernization in the concentration camps of the South African War, 1899-1902 - Elizabeth van Heyningen
2 'We don't want a pirate empire': imperial governance, the Transvaal crisis, and the anxieties of Liberal rhetoric on empire - Simon Mackley
3 Civilization, empire and humanity: Theodore Roosevelt's second corollary to the Monroe Doctrine - Charlie Laderman
4 Franklin D. Roosevelt and America's empire of anti-imperialism - Andrew Preston
5 'The real question at issue': Mers el-Kébir and the rhetoric of imperial confrontation in July 1940 - Rachel Chin
6 French late colonial rhetoric, "myth" and imperial reason - Martin Shipway
7 'Boom! goes the Congo': the rhetoric of control and Belgium's late colonial state - Matthew Stanard
8 The hard side of soft power: Spanish rhetorics of empire from the 1950s to the 1970s - Andreas Stucki
9 Repression, reprisals, and rhetorics of massacre in Algeria's war - Martin Thomas
10 Arguing about Hola Camp: the rhetorical consequences of a colonial massacre - Richard Toye
11 Extended families or bodily decomposition? Biological metaphors in the age of European decolonization - Elizabeth Buettner
12 Rhetoric of the realm: monarchy in New Zealand, political rhetoric and adjusting to the end of empire - Harshan Kumarasingham


Martin Thomas is Professor of Imperial History at the University of Exeter

Richard Toye is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter

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