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David Lockwood

This chapter explores the attitude towards British imperialism in India as expressed by the radical cartoonist David Low, in his work for the Star and the Evening Standard. Holding diametrically opposed views from those of his employer – Lord Beaverbrook – Low took a largely socialist and anti-imperialist line when dealing with India, which nonetheless did not preoccupy him to the same degree as the rise of fascism, Nazism, and Soviet communism. Drawing links between the known attitudes towards imperialism in India among the British middle classes, this chapter draws attention to the probable sympathy held by the Evening Standard’s readers towards Low’s approach. While Low himself believed that he had shaped this middle-class opinion into a broad conformity with his own, it seems more likely that the message of his cartoons against imperialism in India struck a chord with already existing middle-class opinions in the interwar period – this despite the pro-imperialism of the paper’s editor.

in Comic empires
Thomas Nast and the colonisation of the American West
Fiona Halloran

This chapter observes how Thomas Nast – the pre-eminent cartoonist of the Reconstruction period and early ‘Gilded Age’ America – imagined colonisation of the US’ western frontier. Nast recycled racial and religious imagery from his commentary on New York and national politics to imagine the West as a place of diversity and the potential for a more equal citizenry (though this itself was not straightforward or unproblematic). Mormons in particular were a target for Nast’s pen, at the same time as other immigrant settlers, Native Americans, and Chinese railroad workers alike might appear in Nast’s cartoons as members of an American ‘family’. Nast’s images reflected a wide conversation about the broader implications of domestic imperialism; and that views on the significance of the West as a site of colonisation triggered comparative racial histories in many more Americans than just cartoonists.

in Comic empires
Stefanie Wichhart

This chapter explores how British, French, and Egyptian cartoonists engaged with the Suez Crisis of 1956. It observes how, in pursuing their craft, the likes of Pol Ferjac, Leslie Illingworth, and Zahdi al-’Aduwi dug deep into the rich reservoir of icons from the high age of imperialism (such as Britannia and Marianne, the British lion, historical analogies, and well-known literary references). It also shows how both those celebrating empire, and those critical of its costs, reappropriated and recrafted older imperialist imagery to convey new meanings. In this, they drew on the history of their own publications (appropriating imagery from past iterations of Punch, Le Canard enchaîné, and Ruz al-Yusuf), and the fact that the maudlin humour of such reappropriations helped readers to cope with the changing political realities that in turn impacted on their national and imperial identities.

in Comic empires
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The importance of cartoons, caricature, and satirical art in imperial contexts
Richard Scully and Andrekos Varnava

This introduction makes a case for the importance of cartoons, caricature, and satirical art as sources for the study of imperialism. As well as charting the scholarly development of ‘comics studies’ and its emergence as a respectable undertaking in its own right, the editors of Comic empires examine the thematic linkages between the different chapters of the volume. Victorian-age critics – such as John Ruskin – did much to bestow respectability on the cartoon as a form of art, and pointed to the imperial-themed work of John Leech and Sir John Tenniel at Punch as the epitome of the art. But Punch is only part of a larger movement that took empire and its discontents as the main subject matter for cartoon comment, from the eighteenth century prints of Hogarth, Gillray, and Rowlandson, through to the satirical weeklies of France, the United States, and elsewhere in the nineteenth century, and the mass circulation daily newspapers that appeared the world over in the twentieth century.

in Comic empires
Shaoqian Zhang

This chapter examines the media war unleashed on the Chinese population by the forces of Japan and China during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), which comprised one of the essential steps in Japanese military expansion and imperialist strategy. Comparison and contrast is made of the mass-produced wartime cartoon posters – commissioned by governments and military agencies – which were aimed at the Chinese audience. Drawing on established traditions of ‘New Year Prints’, visual methods of persuasion and indoctrination appealed to both sides in the conflict, because of the low level of literacy in the country and the strong folk-oriented visual tradition of the Chinese people. To mobilise popular support for the respective military governments, political cartoonists relied not only on existing, centuries-old pictorial vocabularies, but created new ones as well. These political images were usually produced in large quantities and distributed among the general population, during a period which featured the emergence of a modern and media-conscious state system.

in Comic empires
A case study in colonial Bildungskarikatur
Albert D. Pionke and Frederick Whiting

This chapter offers a case study of political cartoons treating US foreign policy towards Cuba that appeared in Punch between 1840 and 1859. Drawing clear linkages with the development of the novel – and the Bildungsroman form – the chapter observes in Punch’s commentary on American imperialism a complex series of developments. Using the character of ‘Master Jonathan’, British cartoonists personified the United States as a problematic youth whose upstart and mercenary national ambitions threatened both the welfare of the Cuban people and the national interest of his personified parent, Great Britain, in a variety of domains. The case study has much to tell us about both an important episode in nineteenth-century colonial history and the power of literary form, broadly construed, in shaping the political and ideological operations of culture.

in Comic empires
Punch and the Armenian massacres of 1894–1896
Leslie Rogne Schumacher

‘Outrage and imperialism’ explores the response of Punch to the Armenian massacres of 1894–1896. The high moral position taken against the Ottomans – and the advocacy of British and pan-European intervention to defend the Armenians – is evident in the work of Sir John Tenniel and his junior cartoonist Linley Sambourne. Characterisations of the Sultan or a generic Turkish figure were complemented by depictions of a despicable hyena. A more darkly humorous take on the situation was offered by E. T. Reed. In observing Punch’s reactions, questions are prompted about the ways in which the west has absorbed and reformulated eastern issues for its own purposes. Punch and its readers responded with a mixture of indignation, confusion, anger, and equivocality. In a culture dominated by Orientalist fictions and tropes, Britons’ understanding of the nature of Muslim–Christian relations in the Ottoman Empire was opaque at best. And criticism of Ottoman imperialism was never permitted to interfere with attitudes towards its British counterpoint.

in Comic empires
Andrekos Varnava and Casey Raeside

This chapter examines the way the cartoonists of Punch engaged with the unfolding crisis in Cyprus in a period of immense change – both for the British Empire, post-Suez, and for the magazine itself (the innovative Malcolm Muggeridge resigning as editor and handing over to the more moderate Bernard Hollowood in 1957). By focusing on six Punch cartoons that dealt with aspects of the Cyprus ‘emergency’, the authors show that although Punch had not lost its sense of humour, it had reduced in its acerbic and radical capacity for critical thinking. It also shows how individual cartoon comment – by Michael Cummings, Norman Mansbridge, and Ronald Searle, as well as Mervyn Wilson – could confound the editorial line of the magazine, and level criticism at the Conservative governments of Eden and Macmillan, as well as critiquing the Cypriot side.

in Comic empires
The iconography of Anglo-American inter-imperialism
Stephen Tuffnell

This chapter argues that American graphic artists refigured the visual language of Anglo-American relations into a versatile and adaptable imagery for understanding the United States’ place in world affairs, and its newfound status as an empire among empires. This imagery of Anglo-American imperial reciprocity competed with the better-known, and versatile visual culture of American Anglophobia in the late nineteenth century. Anglophobia provided a flexible framework into which American politicians and commentators could position complex political problems, ignite electoral passions, and rally support for foreign policy objectives. As the growth of the US economy accelerated in the Gilded Age, John Bull and Uncle Sam appeared frequently as industrial and commercial competitors. In the imagery of economic nationalism, John Bull was imagined as being crowded out of world markets; defeated by a wealthy and assertive Uncle Sam, in the industries at which he traditionally excelled. However, united by imperial warfare, colonial insurgencies, and nervousness over the future of world politics, John Bull and Uncle Sam were also reformulated as partners in the quest for global leadership. The iconography of inter-imperialism celebrated shared cultural and social interconnections and featured new hybrid symbols of Anglo-American global leadership.

in Comic empires
Open Access (free)
The Colonial Medical Service in British Africa
Editor: Anna Greenwood

A collection of essays about the Colonial Medical Service of Africa in which a group of distinguished colonial historians illustrate the diversity and active collaborations to be found in the untidy reality of government medical provision. The authors present important case studies in a series of essays covering former British colonial dependencies in Africa, including Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zanzibar. These studies reveal many new insights into the enactments of colonial policy and the ways in which colonial doctors negotiated the day-to-day reality during the height of Imperial rule in Africa. The book provides essential reading for scholars and students of colonial history, medical history and colonial administration.