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  • "This startling work is the first study to examine the institutional effects of West Indian emancipation, which it does in systematic, insightful, and original ways. Christopher Taylor makes it impossible to think of nineteenth-century literature and culture by and about British West Indians as separate from its entanglement with the free trade policies predicated on West Indian neglect and abandonment. Empire of Neglect will be of enduring relevance and importance." — Sean X. Goudie, author of, Creole America: The West Indies and the Formation of Literature and Culture in the New Republic

    Empire of Neglect is a searching inquiry into one of the central paradoxes of British slave emancipation in the West Indies, namely, that the arrival of the seeming boon of liberal freedom was actively shaped by an imperial policy of racial disavowal and free market indifference. In its careful attention to the uneven terrain of the late colonial project, Christopher Taylor's book is also a study of how to properly rehistoricize liberalism's often contradictory governing powers. It is a fine achievement of scholarship and imagination.” — David Scott, Columbia University

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  • Description

    Following the publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, nineteenth-century liberal economic thinkers insisted that a globally hegemonic Britain would only profit by abandoning the formal empire. Far from signaling an invitation to nationalist independence, British West Indians across the divides of race and class understood this liberal economic discourse as inaugurating a policy of imperial “neglect”—a way of ignoring the ties that obligated Britain to sustain the worlds of the empire’s distant fellow subjects. In Empire of Neglect Christopher Taylor examines this neglect’s cultural and literary ramifications, tracing how nineteenth-century British West Indians reoriented their affective, cultural, and political worlds toward the Americas as a response to the liberalization of the British Empire. Analyzing a wide array of sources, from plantation correspondence, political economy treatises, and novels to newspapers, socialist programs, and memoirs, Taylor shows how the Americas came to serve as a real and figurative site at which abandoned West Indians sought to imagine and invent post-liberal forms of political subjecthood.

    About The Author(s)

    Christopher Taylor is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago.
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