Personifying colonial governance: George Arthur and the transition from humanitarian to development discourse

Lester, Alan (2011) Personifying colonial governance: George Arthur and the transition from humanitarian to development discourse. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 102 (6). pp. 1468-1488. ISSN 0004-5608

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Abstract

During the early nineteenth century a number of seemingly antithetical developments shaped the British Empire and the wider world, among them evangelical humanism, antislavery and emancipation, the invasion of indigenous peoples' lands by waves of British settlers, the rapid expansion of the settler colonies, and the consolidation of British rule and designs for the re-development of India. Against this backdrop, this article draws attention to significant shifts in the nature of humane governance and opens up a theoretical intersection between life geography, colonial discourse analysis, and assemblage theory. It focuses on the career in British colonial governance of George Arthur, successively Aide de Camp in Jersey, Quarter Master General in Jamaica, Superintendent of Honduras, Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, and Governor of the Bombay Presidency. Situating Arthur as an individual component within emergent colonial governmental assemblages, I examine the ways that an individual like Arthur could effect and be affected by shifts in humanitarian and governmental discourse and practice. The geographies of Arthur's entanglements in colonial discourses were paramount in affecting the nature and extent of his capacity to effect reformulation of those discourses. Arthur's personal performances and expressions of colonial government in different sites of empire and through specific episodes of contestation assisted in the deterritorialization of certain kinds of colonial governmentality and the reterritorialization of others. As Arthur moved from the West Indies to Van Diemen's Land to Upper Canada to India, so his person discernibly effected shifts from ameliorative through conservative humanitarian, to developmental forms of imperial governance.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G0001 Geography (General)
Depositing User: Alan Lester
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:13
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2013 12:02
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/11151
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