Britain’s Empire of Camps, 1876-1903
University of California Press 2017
New Books in African StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network April 24, 2018 Jess Clark
In his new book, Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain’s Empire of Camps, 1876-1903 (University of California Press, 2017), Aidan Forth employs a comparative and trans-imperial approach to map a global network of camps established by Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Between 1876 and 1903, officials set up famine, plague, and wartime concentration camps across India and South Africa in response to a number of interconnected global emergencies. Situating these imperial camps within a longer tradition of Victorian reforms, Forth argues that, while the camps ostensibly provided care and relief for millions of inmates, they simultaneously functioned as sites of social control and confinement. In this way, Barbed-Wire Imperialism challenges existing understandings of British concentration camps, recasting them not as exceptional wartime measures, but as ubiquitous tools of imperial governance.
Aidan Forth is an Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches courses on modern British history, colonialism, transnational urban history and European urban history.
Jess Clark is an Assistant Professor of History at Brock University (St. Catharines, Ontario). She is currently writing a history of the beauty business in Victorian London.