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Title: Britain's travelling eyewitnesses : narratives of the new slaveries, 1884-1916
Author: Burroughs, Robert M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3511 1948
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2006
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Narratives of travel and exploration by witnesses of slavery were integral to Britain's antislavery movement in the long nineteenth century. Antislavery protest formed an important component of the nation's imperial identity. This thesis examines eyewitness accounts of slaveries established under the control of European colonialism in the Congo Free State, Angola and the Putumayo basin of north-western Amazonia (the 'New Slaveries'). These texts appropriated and modified travel narrative forms. In doing so, I argue, they expressed the changing status of the antislavery self-image in British humanitarian culture. They played an important part in directing humanitarians to the mounting acknowledgement of Britain's own responsibilities for the emergence of the New Slaveries in the two decades before the First World War. This thesis is chronologically structured. Chapters are based upon accounts of witnessing atrocities that rose to the cultural fore in Britain. The Introduction establishes the connection of narratives of the New Slaveries to the imperial travel genre, and argues that by subverting its structural, stylistic and thematic orthodoxies antislavery witnesses raised subversive questions about the imperial witness-figure. Chapter One considers the emergence of the British antislavery eyewitness from the ambiguous representation of atrocities in confessional forms (in particular the travel diary), and the invention of the 'European savage'-colonialist in writing about the Congo of the 1890s. Chapter Two observes that by foregrounding the Congolese victims of Leopold's empire Roger Casement's Congo Report (1904) removed some of the problems of witnessing articulated in earlier writings. However, as the study of missionary evidence in Chapter Three shows, images of the Congolese could themselves be inscribed with anxieties of witnessing. Chapters Four and Five examine how the appearance of New Slavery in Angola and the Putumayo led witnesses to explore the more subversive aspects of the narrative perspectives developed in Central Africa. It is hoped that this thesis broadens our understanding of travel writing from imperial contexts. It also aims to inform discussion of late Victorian and Edwardian culture, in particular its humanitarian movements. These two objectives are linked, since in the following chapters I attempt to develop a historicist approach (that emphasises the value of archival research) from which the travel text's often-complex politics of representation and - especially in this case - witnessing can be ascertained.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available