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Empire of Sentiment

Empire of Sentiment
The Death of Livingstone and the Myth of Victorian Imperialism


  • Author: Joanna Lewis, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Date Published: January 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107198517

£ 30.00

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About the Authors
  • This is the first emotional history of the British Empire. Joanna Lewis explores how David Livingstone's death tied together British imperialism and Victorian humanitarianism and inserted it into popular culture. Sacrifice and death; Superman like heroism; the devotion of Africans; the cruelty of Arab slavery; and the sufferings of the 'ordinary man', generated waves of sentimental feeling. These powerful myths, images and feelings incubated down the generations - through grand ceremonies, further exploration, humanitarianism, Christian teaching, narratives of masculine endeavour and heroic biography - inspiring colonial rule in Africa, white settler pioneers, missionaries and Africans. Empire of Sentiment demonstrates how this central African story shaped Britain's romantic perception of itself as a humane power overseas when the colonial reality fell far short. Through sentimental humanitarianism, Livingstone helped sustain a British Empire in Africa that remained profoundly Victorian, polyphonic and ideological; whilst always understood at home as proudly liberal on race.

    • Proposes a new understanding of the role of emotion in the history of colonial rule in Africa and its legacy
    • Highlights the role of myth and memory for Europeans and Africans in their understanding of colonial rule
    • Explains why the British Empire was seen as a liberating and humanitarian empire for so long
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'An enthralling analysis of the cult of Livingstone and what it tells us about Victorian imperialism, manly heroism and, above all, modern memory.' Joanna Bourke, Times Higher Education

    'Lewis (international history, London School of Economics) situates the 1873 death of missionary David Livingstone in the context of moral imperialism and the impending division of Africa into European spheres of influence. Recommended.' S. L. Smith, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107198517
    • length: 302 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 3 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'A Parliament of philanthropy': the fight to bury Livingstone
    2. Laying to rest a Victorian myth: The 'lost heart of the nation', Victorian sentimentality and the rebirth of moral imperialism
    3. A perfect savagery: the Livingstone martyrs and the tree of death on Africa's 'highway to hell'
    4. The graveyard of ambition: missionary wars, bachelor colonialism and white memorials, Chitambo, 1900–1913
    5. White settlers, frontier-chic and colonial racism: how Livingstone's three Cs fell apart
    6. 'The hearts of good men':
    1973, the one party state and the struggle against apartheid
    7. 'Chains of remembrance': Livingstone, sentimental imperialism and Britain's Africa conversation, 1913–2013

  • Author

    Joanna Lewis, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Joanna Lewis is an Associate Professor in the Department of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science, having previously studied at the University of Cambridge after winning a Thomas and Elizabeth Williams Scholarship for students with a first class degree, and first-generation to attend university. Her research is focused on British imperial history in Africa where she has lived and worked periodically for over twenty years. Other lecturing posts include Cambridge, Durham and The School of Oriental and African Studies. In 2013 she organised the only international conference to be held in Africa bringing together British and US specialists with African historians, debating colonial rule and its aftermath.

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