This collection brings much-needed focus to the vibrancy and vitality of minority and marginal writing about empire, and to their implications as expressions of embodied contact between imperial power and those negotiating its consequences from "below." The chapters explore how less powerful and less privileged actors in metropolitan and colonial societies within the British Empire have made use of the written word and of the power of speech, public performance, and street politics. This book breaks new ground by combining work about marginalized figures from within Britain as well as counterparts in the colonies, ranging from published sources such as indigenous newspapers to ordinary and everyday writings including diaries, letters, petitions, ballads, suicide notes, and more. Each chapter engages with the methodological implications of working with everyday scribblings and asks what these alternate modernities and histories mean for the larger critique of the "imperial archive" that has shaped much of the most interesting writing on empire in the past decade.
‘A collection remarkable for blending local particularity with transnational reach, Critical Perspectives on Colonialism brings to light the powerful protests of the British Empire’s marginalised and dispossessed.’ – Zoe Laidlow, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Introduction Fiona Paisley and Kirsty Reid Part I: Writing Back to Colonial and Imperial Authority 1. Denouncing America’s Destiny: Sarah Winnemucca’s Assault on U.S. Expansion Frederick E. Hoxie 2. Chinese Warnings and White Men’s Prophecies Marilyn Lake 3. Orality and Literacy on the New York Frontier: Remembering Joseph Brant Elizabeth Elbourne Part II: Speech Acts 4. History Lessons in Hyde Park: Embodying the Australian Frontier in Interwar London Fiona Paisley 5. Patriotic Complaints: Sailors Performing Petition in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain Isaac Land Part III: Mobilities 6. Zulu Sailors in the Steamship Era: The African Modern in the World Voyage Narratives of Fulunge Mpofu and George Magodini, 1916–24 Jonathan Hyslop 7. "Write me. Write me.": Native and Métis Letter-Writing Across the British Empire, 1800–70 Cecilia Morgan 8. Littoral Literacy: Sealers, Whalers and the Entanglements of Empire Tony Ballantyne Part IV: Fragmented Archives 9. Four Women: Exploring Black Women’s Writing in London, 1880–1920 Caroline Bressey 10. The Power of Words in Nineteenth-Century Prisons: British Colonial Mauritius, 1835–87 Clare Anderson Part V: The View from Above 11. Postcolonial Flyover: Above and Below in Frank Moraes’s The Importance of Being Black (1965) Antoinette Burton