‘Boom! goes the Congo’
The rhetoric of control and Belgium’s late colonial state
in Rhetorics of empire
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This chapter shows that pro-colonial rhetoric such as that generated in New York was integral to Belgium's overseas rule, and the USA was the main target beginning with the Second World War. From the 1940s through the 1950s, Belgians remained publicly committed to a colonialism in the service of the 'civilizing mission', even after others had dropped the phrase and after 'colonialism' accrued negative connotations. They said their task was distinctive because central African people were so backward, and unlike in Britain, France and Portugal, the Belgian outlook was uncomplicated by colonial activity in several places. Their belief that their mission and methods were unique made them more similar to, rather than different from, other imperialists. Belgians appeared self-assured of their colonial mission and engaged in pro-colonial rhetoric to cultivate faith in their control over the Congo among domestic and foreign audiences.

Rhetorics of empire

Languages of colonial conflict after 1900


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