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The Forms of Informal Empire

Britain, Latin America, and Nineteenth-Century Literature

Jessie Reeder

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An ambitious comparative study of British and Latin American literature produced across a century of economic colonization.

Winner of the Sonya Rudikoff Prize by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association

Spanish colonization of Latin America came to an end in the early nineteenth century as, one by one, countries from Bolivia to Chile declared their independence. But soon another empire exerted control over the region through markets and trade dealings—Britain. Merchants, developers, and politicians seized on the opportunity to bring the newly independent nations under the sway of British…

An ambitious comparative study of British and Latin American literature produced across a century of economic colonization.

Winner of the Sonya Rudikoff Prize by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association

Spanish colonization of Latin America came to an end in the early nineteenth century as, one by one, countries from Bolivia to Chile declared their independence. But soon another empire exerted control over the region through markets and trade dealings—Britain. Merchants, developers, and politicians seized on the opportunity to bring the newly independent nations under the sway of British financial power, subjecting them to an informal empire that lasted into the twentieth century.

In The Forms of Informal Empire, Jessie Reeder reveals that this economic imperial control was founded on an audacious conceptual paradox: that Latin America should simultaneously be both free and unfree. As a result, two of the most important narrative tropes of empire—progress and family—grew strained under the contradictory logic of an informal empire. By reading a variety of texts in English and Spanish—including Simón Bolívar's letters and essays, poetry by Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and novels by Anthony Trollope and Vicente Fidel López—Reeder challenges the conventional wisdom that informal empire was simply an extension of Britain's vast formal empire. In her compelling formalist account of the structures of imperial thought, informal empire emerges as a divergent, intractable concept throughout the nineteenth-century Atlantic world.

The Forms of Informal Empire goes where previous studies of informal empire and the British nineteenth century have not, offering nuanced and often surprising close readings of British and Latin American texts in their original languages. Reeder's comparative approach provides a new vision of imperial power and makes a forceful case for expanding the archive of British literary studies.

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The Forms of Informal Empire

Jessie Reeder

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Reviews

Reviews

The history of the informal British empire as recounted by Jessie Reeder is an exciting narration of the intense, complex and original work of persuasion – and self-persuasion – vis-à-vis the possibility that Latin America could be both free and dependent, a persuasion which involved all the main actors, albeit in different ways.

Sharply written, lucidly argued, and intellectually confident, The Forms of Informal Empire will help us to resituate the British world and its cultural forms in their full, properly global framework. Reeder's study will push the field of British studies to continue opening up to larger and more consequential comparatist frameworks.

Compelling in its use of a multilingual archive, The Forms of Informal Empire offers an argument that is as deft as it is far-reaching. Reeder makes a signal contribution to nineteenth-century studies, studies of empire, transatlanticism, and hemispheric studies—a bravura performance!

Reeder's powerfully lucid study of the contradictory ways in which informal empire in Latin America took conceptual form is an important contribution not only to nineteenth-century empire studies but also to our understanding of how similar forms of dominance are thought and practiced today.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
288
ISBN
9781421438078
Illustration Description
2 charts
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction. Freedom and Empire in the Nineteenth Century

Part I. Progress and Informal Empire, 1808-1875: Sequence, Protagonist, Paradox
Chapter 1. (In)dependence: Simón Bolívar and

Acknowledgments

Introduction. Freedom and Empire in the Nineteenth Century

Part I. Progress and Informal Empire, 1808-1875: Sequence, Protagonist, Paradox
Chapter 1. (In)dependence: Simón Bolívar and Revolutionary Forms of Progress
Chapter 2. "Dependant Kings": Anna Barbauld and a Paradox Deterred
Chapter 3. Anthony Trollope and the Collapse of Historical Telos

Part II. Family and Informal Empire, 1840-1926: Origin, Generation, Relation, Hybridity
Chapter 4. Vicente Fidel López Re-members the Nation
Chapter 5. H. Rider Haggard and the Antagonism of Valid Fiancées
Chapter 6. Where Progress and Family (Almost) Meet: William Henry Hudson and the Industrialization of the Pampas

Coda

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio