Exeter’s ‘The Rhetoric of Empire Conference’, 22-23 May

Martin Thomas 

Announcing a two-day conference hosted by Exeter University’s Centre for War, State and Society22 – 23 May 2014

RhetoricofEmpireConpicWhy 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.

The Rhetoric of Empire:

Imperial Discourse and the Language of Colonial Conflict

Thursday 22 May – Friday 23 May 2014.

Venue: Reed Hall, University of Exeter


Day One: Thursday 22 May 2014
Registration and Welcome, 9.45 – 10.15 
Introductions, 10.15– 10.30: Martin Thomas & Richard Toye
_________________________________________________________________________ Panel One: 10.30 – 11.15, Chair: Iain Smith


Speaker One: Simon Mackley, ‘‘We don’t want a pirate Empire’: imperial governance, the Transvaal Crisis, and the anxieties of Liberal rhetoric on Empire’ Speaker Two: Elizabeth von Heyningen, ‘‘The people are grateful’. The discourse of modernisation in the concentration camps of the South African War, 1899-1902’


Coffee, 11.15 – 11.45
 Panel Two, 11.45 – 13.00, Chair: Richard Toye 

Speaker One: Rachel Chin, ‘Animosity and Identity: Understanding Anglo-French Reactions to Mers el-Kébir through Rhetorical Analysis


Speaker Two: Martin Shipway, ‘French Late Colonial Rhetorics of Territoriality and Reform: the case of French Indochina after 1945’


 Lunch, 13.00 – 14.15 
 Panel Three: 14.15 – 15.30, Chair: James Mark 

Speaker One: Richard Toye, ‘An ‘administrative disaster’ in Africa: The Hola Camp massacre and the rhetoric of bureaucratic failure’

Speaker Two: Martin Thomas, ‘Repression, Reprisals, and a French Rhetoric of Massacre at Empire’s Close’


Coffee and Close: 15.30 – 16.00
 EVENING MEAL: The Cosy Club, 1 Southernhay Gardens: http://www.cosyclub.co.uk/exeter 
Day Two: Friday 23 May 2014
Coffee, 9.00-9.30 
 Panel One, 9.30-10.45, Chair: Martin Thomas
Speaker One: Andreas Stucki, ‘‘Beyond Civilization’: Rhetoric of Empire in the Portuguese and Spanish ‘Overseas Provinces’Speaker Two: Elizabeth Buettner, ‘Extended Families or Bodily Decomposition?: Biological Metaphors in the Age of European Decolonization’ 
 Coffee, 10.45-11.15 
 Panel Two, 11.15 – 12.30, Chair, Andew Thompson  

Speaker One: James Mark, ‘The End of Empire and the Rhetoric of Liberation in State Socialist Eastern Europe 1955-1990’

Speaker Two: Camilla Schofield, ‘The Rhetoric of Aid at Empire’s End, 1958-72’


12.30 – 12.45: CLOSING REMARKS