University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography > Personifying Colonial Governance: Life Geography of George Arthur and the Transition from Colonial Philanthropy to Development Discourse

Personifying Colonial Governance: Life Geography of George Arthur and the Transition from Colonial Philanthropy to Development Discourse

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This paper aims to draw attention to significant shifts in the nature of humane governance during the nineteenth century and to open 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, the paper examines 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.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography series.

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