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Title: Perceptions of war, savagery and civilisation in Britain, 1801-1899
Author: Hartwell, Nicole M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 7619
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation traces the complex ways in which non-European military cultures - often designated as 'savage' - and the expeditions undertaken against them - regularly conceptualised as 'savage warfare' - were understood in the Victorian imagination. It addresses how these understandings shifted across time in relation to developments such as imperial expansion; cultural and intellectual shifts including the rise of evolutionary theory; and the practical issues that emerged in response to the undertaking of wars where such opponents were met on the field of battle. It is distinctive in working at the intersection of nineteenth-century intellectual, cultural, imperial and military history, and utilises a wide range of sources. The nineteenth century was a unique period during which this eclectic and differentiated debate - which both explored and contributed to the construction of ideas on 'savagery' - arose due to the proliferation of cross-cultural knowledge and the development of periodical culture. As members of the armed forces were on the front-line of cross-cultural interactions, the military context shines a light on the richness of this discourse and helps to frame a complex debate about the boundaries between 'civilisation' and 'savagery'. While understandings of 'savagery' that embodied assumptions of ruthlessness, bloodthirstiness, and a lack of moral understanding can be traced in British perceptions of 'savage' warriors during this period, this dissertation argues that the designation of a warrior culture as 'savage' was not uncontested, nor did it preclude the admission of 'civilised' characteristics, or criticisms with regard to British conduct in 'savage' wars. By uncovering the competing discourses on how 'savage' warriors were perceived during this period, this dissertation reinforces critiques of the 'cultural determinist' notion that military cultures are fixed; emphasises the lack of coherence with regard to British perceptions of 'savage' warriors, thus contributing to scholarship that has identified the inconsistent nature of 'orientalism'; and challenges conventional periodisation of the development of colonial racism and anti-humanitarianism during the nineteenth century.
Supervisor: Garnett, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Military history ; British Empire