Showcasing Empire, Then and Now: Material Culture, Propaganda and the Imperial Project

Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens, 93 Printemps | 2021
Couverture CVE 93 The material culture of European Empires is at the heart of this volume of the French Victorian and Edwardian Journal (Cahiers Victoriens et Édouardiens) which develops the idea according to which the propagation of the imperial project was performed through an omnipresent materiality within 19th and 20th-century European societies. These ‘Victorian and Edwardian things’, to pick up Asa Briggs’s famous expression, are tekmeria, that is to say traces, which have left their imprint on British and French imperial societies in particular. They enable to shed a light on the way the imperial question had an impact on the daily life of those populations and to witness how much material and visual cultures were present then. The notion of imperial propaganda is part and parcel of this volume, the objective of which is to show how, under the guise of proximity and familiarity with ordinary ‘innocent’ objects, the ideology of the domination of other people has permeated the mind of a whole population. Yet, it should be noted that the answer to the question of Empires was complex, certainly not a uniform one, and probably sometimes contradictory. According to each individual situation, the understanding of and reaction to the Empire was multifaceted. One can infer from this a multi-vision approach to the European representations of Empire in European societies at the turn of the century and beyond, full of tensions and sometimes unpredictable. The articles in this volume wish to examine these aspects of an omnipresent material culture within imperial cultures, so as to grasp the mental universe of Victorians and their French neighbours, more thoroughly than any text or discourse on Empire would.


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