Settler Anxiety at the Outposts of Empire
Colonial Relations, Humanitarian Discourses, and the Imperial Press
Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, fear of Indigenous uprisings spread across the British Empire and nibbled at the edges of settler societies. Publicly admitting to this anxiety, however, would have gone counter to Victorian notions of racial superiority. This posed a distinct problem for journalists tasked with reporting on events of the day.
In this fascinating examination of British imperial communication networks, Kenton Storey compares newspaper coverage in New Zealand and on Vancouver Island during the 1850s and 1860s. Challenging the notion that there was a decline in the popularity of humanitarianism in the mid-nineteenth century, he demonstrates how the local colonial press adopted humanitarian language – hitherto used by Christian evangelists to promote Indigenous rights – to justify the expansion of settlers’ access to land, promote racial segregation, and allay fears of Indigenous violence, all while insisting on the “protection” of Indigenous peoples.
Settler Anxiety at the Outposts of Empire offers fresh perspectives on the history of race relations in British colonies, while it deftly explores the intersections between settler anxiety, the perceived threat of Indigenous violence, and the public use of humanitarian language. By locating New Zealand and Vancouver Island within networks of imperial communication, it also illustrates how the press worked to connect distant parts of the British Empire.
This innovative look at settler colonialism will be of interest to students and scholars of British Empire, Canadian and New Zealand history, print culture, comparative studies of colonialism, and Indigenous studies.
Settler Anxiety at the Outposts of Empire is meticulously researched and engagingly written. The colonial intrigues of the mid-nineteenth century are suffused with a freshness that draws readers in, as if they were reading about current events. It is a valuable addition to our understanding of the colonization process in New Zealand and on Vancouver Island.
Settler Anxiety contributes to histories of the British empire, of the interconnections the colonies established within and beyond the empire, and of the role of humanitarianism in shaping colonial policies toward indigenous peoples ... Storey’s history offers an important counterpoint to British imperial histories and to U.S. histories of this period.
Storey has written an important book … anyone seriously interested in settler colonialism and its relationship with Indigenous peoples will find it a well-researched and well-connected study with surprisingly broad implications.
[T]his book is a useful exploration of race, humanitarianism, settler anxiety, and the imperial press, with a comparative framing that is both evocative and revealing.
This book, which reveals how humanitarian discourse was used over the long term to influence colonial politics, makes a vital contribution to our understanding of colonialism, race, and imperialism.
Settler Anxiety at the Outposts of Empire offers a fresh and original perspective on the role of newspapers in colonial and imperial cultures. Kenton Storey’s pioneering research reveals how the colonial press deployed humanitarianism to soothe anxiety about race relations in the 1850s and 1860s.
1 A Short History of New Zealand and Vancouver Island
2 Violence and Eviction on Vancouver Island
3 New Zealand’s Humanitarian Extremes
4 Aboriginal Title and the Victoria Press
5 The Auckland Press at War
6 Colonial Humanitarians?
7 The Imperial Press
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