This conference panel explores expressions of ‘exile’ in its many forms, paying close attention to the ways in which exile has informed political action and shaped colonial and postcolonial identities. One paper considers the ‘exile’ of white colonial officials and their families in early nineteenth century India, while another analyzes feelings of exile among southern African settlers who returned to Britain in the late twentieth century. We are looking for 1-2 other presenters who consider the experiences of exile amongst people coerced into leaving their places of origin, whether as colonisers or colonised. We are also looking for a panel chair. The panel is being convened by Dr Anna Gust and Dr Ellen Boucher. Please send an abstract of 250-300 words and short biographical paragraph to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 26th.
The two hundred years that span the rise, decline and post-script of the ‘second’ British empire was a period of relentless movement of peoples, materials and ideas. Whether as slaves, indentured labourers, impressed soldiers and sailors, or as willing traders, military officers and missionaries, the British empire effected mobility on an enormous scale. Whilst some people saw the empire as full of financial, social and intellectual opportunity, others mourned the loss of ‘home’ and imagined a world of greater familiarity and belonging. Empire was often experienced as a form of exile. In the early years of imperial expansion, fragile networks of communication and the very real possibility of no return led to fears of social peripheralisation, isolation, and death. Later, as decolonization and the decline of the “British world” pushed men and women from positions of power in the former colonies, many were left without a clear sense of belonging in the new, post-imperial world.
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