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Author: Southhem

Institutions of Literature: Networks

Institutions of Literature: Networks

The SouthHem team recently participated in a two-day workshop on the subject, “Institutions as Networks” held by the AHRC-funded ‘Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900’ research network. The diverse range of papers and the productive closing roundtable raised numerous questions of pertinence to the SouthHem research project: Definition: A central task of the workshop was to establish a working definition of the word, “institution”, specifically in relation to networks. When, for example, does a network become an institution? Does it depend on physical…

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De-territorializing Britishness In Colonial South Africa

De-territorializing Britishness In Colonial South Africa

In his landmark study of the idea of ‘Greater Britain’ in imperial discourse, Duncan Bell identified three different meanings ascribed to the term by nineteenth century political thinkers after 1870. In some conceptions, it included the ‘totality of the British empire’, including Britain’s expanding African empire and, the jewel in Victoria’s crown, India. [Bell, 7] However, more commonly, ‘Greater Britain’ was conceived along racial lines, as an Anglo-Saxon polity which encompassed the settlement colonies and, in some formulations, the United…

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A report from the Victorian gold fields

A report from the Victorian gold fields

How do you establish the existence of a literary institution’s collection when none of the early records have survived? How can you trace the circulation of books without a catalogue or accession records? How do you determine the way an institution was managed if the committee minutes have disappeared? These are some of the questions I have been trying to answer during my research trip to country Victoria. As part of my SouthHem case study I have been visiting the…

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Colonial Capital and Imperialist Time: Harry Harootunian on the Ontology of the Historical Present

Colonial Capital and Imperialist Time: Harry Harootunian on the Ontology of the Historical Present

Harry Harootunian’s fascinating article ‘Remembering the Historical Present’ (2007) is a blistering critique of the banalities of modernization theory; the poverty of spatial configurations for understanding the global world order; and the problems of national borders and methodologies in historical and area studies. Reading the article, I was struck by the way in which Harootunian places temporality at the centre of understandings of colonialism, modernity, and capitalism. Harootunian sees the (often violent) encounters between indigenous and European populations in the…

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Due South: New Directions in Southern Thinking

Due South: New Directions in Southern Thinking

In his 2008 article for the Australian Humanities Review ‘Keys to the South’, Kevin Murray offers three frameworks for thinking about ‘Southness’: the Southern Hemisphere, the Global South, and the Colonised South. Most obviously, the Southern Hemisphere refers, in a conventional Mercator understanding of the globe, to the ‘geographical region below the equator’. But as Murray points out, this designation also entails an implicit hierarchy of ‘up’ and ‘down’ or ‘above’ and ‘below’ that roughly (but not wholly) ‘aligns with…

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The Southern Colonies and Political Economy

The Southern Colonies and Political Economy

For economic critics of empire, the cost of acquiring and maintaining colonies far exceeded their benefits. An emphasis on the priority of the domestic over the foreign market, for example, is central not only to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776), but also to Josiah Tucker’s The Case for Going to War for the Sake of Trade (1763) and James Anderson’s The Interest of Great Britain with Regard to her American Colonies Considered (1782), all of which were influential on…

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Interrogating Commodity Cultures: Exploring Global Connections

Interrogating Commodity Cultures: Exploring Global Connections

On Friday 5 May the SouthHem team attended a fascinating inter-disciplinary conference on commodity cultures organised by Dr. Fariha Shaikh at University College Dublin. The plenary paper was given by Michael Niblett, Assistant Professor in Modern World Literature at the University of Warwick, and entitled ‘Commodity Cultures: Work, Frontiers, and Peripheral Modernisms’. Bourne out of his own difficulties in providing a succinct answer to questions of definition and conceptualisation, Niblett’s paper asked: what is a commodity frontier? Niblett drew attention…

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Newspaper poetry and Anglophone Print Culture in the Cape colony

Newspaper poetry and Anglophone Print Culture in the Cape colony

This case study focuses on the literary culture of the Cape Colony during the 1820s. Cape Town in the 1820s was establishing an Anglophone ‘bourgeois public sphere’ that accompanied the socio-economic transformation that followed the departure of the Dutch in 1806. (Mackenzie 1998:90) Industrialisation and the removal of government restrictions on trade led to the arrival of British merchants and their families, creating an urban, Anglophone middle-class. In the 1820s, the colony’s independent newspapers and literary periodicals emerged in parallel with…

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‘Zoning in’ on Geographies of Empire

‘Zoning in’ on Geographies of Empire

In Culture and Imperialism (1993), Edward Said argues that empire rests on crucial spatial and geographical mappings that involve a ‘hierarchy of spaces’. For Said, the struggle over space is ‘complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings’ (Said 1993: 58). Over the last thirty years, historians, literary scholars, and cultural geographers have taken up Said’s challenge to think about the intersections between geography and postcolonial…

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Library Catalogue Glosses

Library Catalogue Glosses

The Book Catalogues of the Southern Hemisphere (BCSH) database aims to provide an explanatory gloss on each of the nearly 500 surviving auction, bookseller, and library catalogues pertaining to the British-controlled Southern Hemisphere and Straits Settlements. These brief glosses will eventually be available on our main website and will contain summaries of the number, type, genre, material format, and provenance of book holdings;  information relating to the owners, distributors, sellers, and auctioneers of catalogued books; and, if relevant, information relating…

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