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“SAVING BRITISH NATIVES”: FAMILY EMIGRATION AND THE LOGIC OF SETTLER COLONIALISM IN CHARLES DICKENS AND CAROLINE CHISHOLM

  • Terra Walston Joseph (a1)
Extract

As Cambridge historian J. R. Seeley writes inThe Expansion of England (1883), the fear of colonial secession, inspired by that of the United States, haunted Britons’ perception of their “second Empire” throughout the nineteenth century, effectively working against a sense of shared national destiny with the white settlers of Canada, New Zealand, and Australia (14–15). One important way Victorian writers combatted the “optimistic fatalism” Seeley observed in his fellow Britons was through an imperial economy of affect, which circulated sentiment and stressed emotional identification between settlers and metropolitan Britons (15). If mid-nineteenth-century British literature can be said to negotiate the tensions of Britain's empire through representations of racial, cultural, and linguistic difference, then narratives of sameness – of British families across the oceans – offer models for cohering the British settler empire. In such a model, techniques designed to reinforce the sentimental bonds of settlers to their families might also reinforce the social, political, and affective connections of the settlers to the metaphorical “mother country.”

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Victorian Literature and Culture
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