The Rhetoric of Empire

The Rhetoric of Empire: Imperial Discourse and the Language of Colonial Conflict

A two-day conference hosted by Exeter University’s Centre for War, State and Society, 22 - 23 May 2014

Why did imperialist language become so pervasive in Britain, France and elsewhere in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? What rhetorical devices did political and military leaders, administrators, investors and lobbyists use to justify colonial domination before domestic and foreign audiences? And how far did their colonial opponents mobilize a different rhetoric of rights and freedoms to challenge imperialist discourse? These are some of the questions that we hope to address during this two-day conference, which is funded under a three-year Leverhulme Trust research project led by Professors Martin Thomas and Richard Toye.

Divided into five sequential panels, the conference will revisit the place of imperialist rhetoric and discourses of colonialism in the history of empire from the nineteenth century onwards. Particular issues to be examined include discourses of imperialist modernization, the language of colonial ‘civilizing’, as well as the relationship between globalization and the spread of dominant languages.

Addressing anti-imperial campaigns as well as the discourses of imperial assertion used by settlers and metropolitan elites, panel sessions will discuss typologies of colonial rhetoric, reviewing their relationship to the internationalist ideologies that emerged alongside them. Other papers will investigate the ways in which notorious instances of colonial violence and counter-violence were depicted in the public sphere of imperialist nations and international forums.

The conference will be held in Reed Hall, beginning at 9.45am on Thursday 22 May 2014. Full Programme details are listed separately.

Please follow the link to book online.