Imperial Benevolence: Making British Authority in the Pacific islands
by Jane Samson
This analysis of British imperialism in the south Pacific explores the impulses behind British calls for the protection and "improvement" of ... Show synopsis This analysis of British imperialism in the south Pacific explores the impulses behind British calls for the protection and "improvement" of islanders. From kingmaking projects in Hawai'i, Tonga and Fiji to the "antislavery" campaign against the labour trade in the western Pacific, the author examines the subjective cultural roots permeating Britons' attitudes toward Pacific islanders. By teasing out the connections between those attitudes and the British humanitarian and antislavery movements, this text reminds the reader that 19th-century Britain was engaged in a global canpaign for "Christianization and civilization". Using official and unofficial records, this text shows how British Naval officers and their humanitarian supporters responded to a variety of Pacific encounters, developing their own interpretations of culture and contact in the islands. The book aims to overturn traditional historical treatments of Britain's naval operations in the islands, particularly on the issue of "gunboat diplomacy". It reveals how deeply divided British opinion was about the use of force against islanders and the unpredictable responses of the islanders.