Rhetorics of empire

Languages of colonial conflict after 1900

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. This book explores the arguments fought over empire in a wide variety of geographic, political, social and cultural contexts. Essays range from imperialism in the early 1900s, to the rhetorical battles surrounding European decolonization in the late twentieth century. Rhetoric is one of the weapons of war. Conquest was humiliating for Afrikaners but they regained a degree of sovereignty, with the granting of responsible government to the new colonies in 1907 and independence with the Act of Union of 1910. Liberal rhetoric on the Transvaal Crisis was thus neither an isolated debate nor simply the projection of existing political concerns onto an episode of imperial emergency. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's principles of intervention in response to crimes against civilization, constituted a second corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The rhetorical use of anti-imperial demonology was useful in building support for New Deal legislation. The book argues that rhetoric set out to portray the events at Mers el-Kebir within a culturally motivated framework, drawing on socially accepted 'truths' such as historic greatness and broad themes of hope. Now, over 175 years of monarchical presence in New Zealand the loyalty may be in question, devotion scoffed, the sycophantic language more demure and colloquialized, the medium of expression revolutionized and deformalized, but still the rhetoric of the realm remains in New Zealand.


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