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Category: Case Studies

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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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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A New Reading Public: The Mechanics’ Institute in the Colony of Victoria

A New Reading Public: The Mechanics’ Institute in the Colony of Victoria

Discussing the merits and importance of establishing a Mechanics’ Institute in Melbourne in 1839, an article in the Port Phillip Gazette argued for the “great practical benefit” of the mechanics’ institutes, in particular for “the working classes of these colonies, and especially the youth of every class” (6). Urging the public for support in this endeavour, the writer pleaded that they who are possessed of talent let them cultivate these for the rational and useful field of display which now…

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The Singapore Library, 1845-1873

The Singapore Library, 1845-1873

The Singapore Library forms just one small part of our larger, cross-regional study of how the holdings of libraries in the colonial southern hemisphere and Straits Settlements changed over space and time, but this case study is especially important for the history of books and reading in colonial Singapore because the library eventually evolved into the state’s national public library: first, as the Raffles Library and Museum (1874-1960) and then as the National Library of Singapore (1960-). The Singapore Library…

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