The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration / Edition 1

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Overview


The white man's burden, darkest Africa, the seduction of the primitive: such phrases were widespread in the language Western empires used to talk about their colonial enterprises. How this language itself served imperial purposes--and how it survives today in writing about the Third World--are the subject of David Spurr's book, a revealing account of the rhetorical strategies that have defined Western thinking about the non-Western world.
Despite historical differences among British, French, and American versions of colonialism, their rhetoric had much in common. The Rhetoric of Empire identifies these shared features—images, figures of speech, and characteristic lines of argument—and explores them in a wide variety of sources. A former correspondent for the United Press International, the author is equally at home with journalism or critical theory, travel writing or official documents, and his discussion is remarkably comprehensive. Ranging from T. E. Lawrence and Isak Dineson to Hemingway and Naipaul, from Time and the New Yorker to the National Geographic and Le Monde, from journalists such as Didion and Sontag to colonial administrators such as Frederick Lugard and Albert Sarraut, this analysis suggests the degree to which certain rhetorical tactics penetrate the popular as well as official colonial and postcolonial discourse.
Finally, Spurr considers the question: Can the language itself—and with it, Western forms of interpretation--be freed of the exercise of colonial power? This ambitious book is an answer of sorts. By exposing the rhetoric of empire, Spurr begins to loosen its hold over discourse about—and between—different cultures.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Rhetoric of Empire is a richly eclectic, innovative study. It should appeal to a considerable cross-section of scholars and students and gain recognition as a significant intervention in colonial studies."—Rob Nixon, Columbia University

"Spurr's ability to make connections between literature and its shadow discourse, journalism, and to show how the two work in tandem to reinforce the culture of colonialism, is really most impressive. The overall result of his approach is a broad perspective on the global problem of colonialism."—Christopher Miller, Yale University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822313175
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: Post-Contemporary Interventions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 223
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Surveillance: Under Western Eyes 13
2 Appropriation: Inheriting the Earth 28
3 Aestheticization: Savage Beauties 43
4 Classification: The Order of Nations 61
5 Debasement: Filth and Defilement 76
6 Negation: Areas of Darkness 92
7 Affirmation: The White Man's Burden 109
8 Idealization: Strangers in Paradise 125
9 Insubstantialization: Seeing as in a Dream 141
10 Naturalization: The Wilderness in Human Form 156
11 Eroticization: The Harems of the West 170
12 Resistance: Notes Toward an Opening 184
Bibliography 203
Index 209
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