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Orb and Sceptre: Studies on British Imperialism and its Legacies, in Honour of Norman Etherington


Peter Limb

The potent symbolism of ‘orb and sceptre’, evoking images of power and rule, whether in Empire or colony, or between distant ruler and subject subaltern in the Antipodes, Africa or Asia, encapsulates the significance of Norman Etherington’s scholarly pursuits. A specialist in Imperial British, mission and South African history, he is an influential writer whose mark is felt in the historiographies of these fields, not least in his recent editing of Mission and Empire in the Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series.1

Every scholar’s work bears the marks of early mentors. In the case of Norman Etherington, the figures of Robin Winks and Hugh Stretton loom very large. It was Winks, at Yale University, who convinced an aspiring English historian of the superior merits of British Empire and Commonwealth history. Characteristically, Norman remembers the encounter in terms of adventure and romance. Whereas Yale’s coterie of British historians made their biennial pilgrimages back and forth across the Atlantic to archival depots in England, Winks was a peripatetic wonder. One year he would be in New Zealand, the next in Nova Scotia or Jamaica or South Africa. And yet every adventure was knitted to all the others by the British Imperial framework. Norman Etherington imagined that would be the life for him.

Through Winks, came an introduction to Hugh Stretton, who gave him his first ongoing academic appointment as a lecturer in history at the University of Adelaide. Stretton’s hallmark as a scholar and teacher was openness to new ideas and a refusal to be bound by disciplinary or regional boundaries. He fearlessly moved among the social sciences, tackling sociology, economics, urban planning and the history of ideas with no sense that lack of previous experience constituted a disqualification. He used to remark provocatively that the ideal attribute of a first-year tutor was complete ignorance of the subject to be taught. That belief related to his conviction that universities should give good students free rein to follow their inspiration wherever it might lead.

The lesson Norman Etherington took from Robin Winks was that the British Empire provided an unparalleled framework for making connections between apparently unrelated regions and themes. The lesson he took from Hugh Stretton was that no student with a good project should be denied a sympathetic supervisor. Combining those lessons led Norman Etherington to become the supervisor of dozens of honours theses and thirty or so postgraduate dissertations on a huge range of subjects, whose underlying connections lay in their relation to the overarching theme of British Imperial history. That is equally true of the chapters in this book. What might appear to be a miscellaneous collection of essays belongs, through linkages to the imperial story, in the same chocolate box.

The essays also reflect to some extent the trajectory of British Empire history in the academy over the last forty years. When Norman began his studies with Winks at Yale, Imperial and Commonwealth history seemed to occupy a place in the university curriculum of the English-speaking world as solid as European or US history. Throughout the Commonwealth, high school students were introduced to the ‘rise of the West’ and the ‘expansion of England’, which provided them with basic knowledge about the institutions and historical processes that bound their fates together, whether they lived in Lagos, Johannesburg, Auckland, Montreal or Melbourne. Those who went on to university studies in history found an array of courses that widened and deepened that knowledge.

Sometimes these courses bore labels such as Empire and Commonwealth history. But even when they purported to be about something else – warfare, international relations or Australia – the imperial theme frequently sounded from the wings. Indeed, Australian university history departments were led by professors grounded in imperial history: Jack Ward at Sydney, Gordon Greenwood at Queensland, Fred Alexander at the University of Western Australia, Max Crawford at Melbourne, Frank Crowley at New South Wales, Alan Shaw and John Legge at Monash and, towering above them all, Keith Hancock at the Australian National University.2 It seemed unimaginable that within a short space of years courses explicitly or implicitly concerned with Empire and Commonwealth history would be swept from university calendars, not just in Australia but also throughout the Commonwealth.

Yet for those who could read the auguries, the writing had been on the wall even before Robin Winks welcomed Norman to his stable of postgraduate students in 1965. Outside the academy the ‘winds of change’ that British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan felt blowing through Africa were swirling across the globe, causing former colonies to slip their imperial moorings.3 Between 1957 and 1967 the bulk of territories that had constituted the British, French, and Belgian empires emerged as independent nations. It followed, according to the conventions of historical practice laid down in the nineteenth century, that every nation required its own history. Inside the academy, Robinson and Gallagher’s Africa and the Victorians (1961), in turn influenced by the challenge of a more Africa-centric historiography emerging from the University of London, struck a new note. It argued that the course of empire could not be properly understood from the metropolitan centre alone; the colonial periphery had played an active role in determining when and how imperial links were forged.

These two themes – demands for new nationalist histories for decolonised territories and renewed attention to the role of the periphery in the making and unmaking of empires – formed an explosive mix that blew apart traditional conceptions of Empire and Commonwealth history. Former colonies and dependencies looked to a fresh generation of historians to write their individual histories, generally conceived as grand narratives of escape from imperial shackles to independent fulfilment. Even the former dominions – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – bent before the historiographical winds of change. No longer content to conceive their role as dutiful daughters of Mother Britain or ripe fruit dropping from the imperial tree, they too demanded nationalist histories. Accordingly Empire and Commonwealth history gave way to Canadian history in Canada, Australian history in Australia, New Zealand and South African history.

The short-term result was an introspective turn in history teaching and scholarship. Canadian students ceased to learn about Australia and Australians stopped caring about Canada as each nation’s history departments answered the call to teach its own history. Regrettable as it may have been to narrow the horizons of study, the results were not all bad. In the process of turning inward New Zealand and South African historians came face to face with the discomfiting Maori and African presence so often glossed over in the standard histories, just as Australian historians before too long confronted the challenges and complexities of Aboriginal history.

Some of those who trained as Empire/Commonwealth historians transmuted into historians of a single region or country. For example, in the early 1970s Norman’s close colleague in Adelaide, John Young, redirected his research to Pacific history. Norman used his PhD thesis on missions in South Africa as a springboard to dive into African and South African history. Similar individual trajectories are traceable at every Australian university. Closer examination, however, would reveal that much of what had previously been conceived as Empire and Commonwealth history was built into the new regional and national curricula. Issues long considered of central importance to empire were given a new lease of life by the injunction to take a closer look at the role of the periphery in theory and practice.


One of these themes was the implementation of indirect rule in a variety of colonies and dependencies. So long as the Empire was a going concern, indirect rule was studied for its utility in the hands of colonial administrations. Following the publication of Lord Lugard’s Dual Mandate in Tropical Africa (1922), indirect rule acquired the status of an administrative mantra. The time when kingdoms and chieftainships were abolished following annexation had passed. Ruling through traditional authorities became preferred practice almost everywhere. With most of the Empire gone by the late 1960s, historians like Prosser Gifford were asking whether indirect rule was the ‘touchstone or tombstone’ of colonial policy.4

To nationalist politicians of newly independent countries the old kings and chiefs appeared living anachronisms, whose authority derived solely from the imperial power that had propped them up. In 1957 the first leader of independent Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, faced opposition from traditionalist chiefs, and one of the first acts of independent India was to abolish the princely states bequeathed by the Raj. And yet, lively debates about the ambiguities of indirect rule persist to this day. Fiona Groenhout’s opening chapter in this book explores the complex relationships that existed between Indian rulers and their imperial minders right up to the time of independence. Rudyard Kipling wrote in his brilliant story, ‘The Man who would be King’:

the princely states have a wholesome horror of English newspapers … They do not understand that nobody cares a straw for the internal administration of Native States so long as oppression and crime are kept within decent limits, and the ruler is not drugged, drunk, or diseased from one end of the year to the other. They are the dark places of the earth, full of unimaginable cruelty, touching the Railway and the Telegraph on one side, and, on the other, the days of Harun-al-Raschid [legendary cruel Abbasid caliph of the Arabian Nights].5

By focusing on a prince who crossed the line into sex, drugs, disease, crime and oppression, Groenhout seeks to determine the location of the line drawn between acceptable and intolerable rulers. In the process, she demonstrates that no ruler can be fairly characterised as a puppet of the Raj.

Another fruitful line of enquiry has been to seek for the origins of indirect rule. While some historians maintain that necessity, in the form of limited resources, was the mother of this invention, others – knowing that success has many fathers – have pointed to Lugard’s numerous precursors in places ranging from Fiji and Sarawak to India and West Africa. On the African continent, few candidates have better claims to paternity than Theophilus Shepstone, Secretary for Native Affairs in Natal in the 1850s and 1860s.6 Not only did he contrive a system for ruling through chiefs advised by magistrates and administrators of Native Law, he demonstrated remarkable tolerance for African customs, extending to bride wealth, polygamy and levirate marriage. During the years before his friendship with Bishop John Colenso broke down, the pair seemed the very model of partnership between enlightened empire and progressive religion – if not a precursor of twentieth-century cultural relativism.

A major problem for historians, however, is that Shepstone wrote so little about his own motivations. To many he seemed a strange silent man, the secret springs of whose being lay too deep for researchers to plumb. Jennifer Weir and Norman Etherington, in their chapter, open a tantalising window onto a period when Shepstone bared his 19-year-old soul in a remarkable letter to Henry Fynn dating from 1836. The strong suggestion of turbulent sexual drives and a possible intimate relationship across the colour line sheds an entirely new light on his later policies of toleration for African customary practices that his Victorian contemporaries condemned as savage and immoral. Though it would be reductionist in the extreme to trace all Shepstone’s policy initiatives to a youthful misadventure, Weir’s discovery shows us a Shepstone we never imagined.

Keith Smith’s chapter explores another angle to the complicated relationships between imperial centre and colonial periphery, using the example of Sir Henry Bulwer, the last governor under whom Shepstone served as Secretary for Native Affairs. In this case the focus in on imperial warfare rather than colonial policy. The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 bears some eerie resemblances to the Iraq War of 2003.7 An invasion advertised as a humanitarian action to remove a tyrant turned into a farcical graveyard of reputations, as a series of setbacks alienated public opinion in Britain on the eve of a general election and eventually led to a patched-up declaration of victory and withdrawal. From 1880 onward, historians generally have believed that the removal of the commanding officer, Lord Chelmsford, resulted from a loss of faith in London. Smith shows that Bulwer, the archetypal man on the spot, played a much larger role in these events than previously acknowledged. And some of the faults Bulwer found in Chelmsford related to the efficiency of the Natal Native Contingent, raised on Shepstonian principles from manpower levies enforced on chiefs.


Although old themes persist in histories of the Empire and Commonwealth, quite new paths of research opened out in the 1970s and 1980s. As the shine wore off the regimes that came to power after decolonisation, the attraction of writing triumphant histories of roads to independence noticeably dimmed. Apart from some gloating emanating from apologists for the old order, very few historians showed much appetite for writing the story of transitions from democracy to one-party rule or chronicles of military coups. Approaches to historical research emanating from neo-Marxism, second-wave feminism and literary criticism appeared more promising.

Neo-Marxists and related strains of radicalism questioned the concept of independence itself. Some scholars latched on to the concept of neo-colonialism as a way of explaining how the excolonial powers and the international order managed to limit the options of new states. Enthusiasts for dependency theory said much the same thing without tying their arguments to older Marxist theories of imperialism.

Feminist history, as it gradually evolved into gender history, forsook most of the political arena as a domain controlled by men for almost as long as history itself. From this standpoint, the leaders of post-independence regimes looked decidedly patriarchal, whether in Africa, South-East Asia or the Pacific Islands. Feminist historians preferred to ask what happened to women, before and after independence. Later, when there was a partial return to analyses of political power, historians following on from that tradition asked about the gendering of power in the household, in the workplace, in the church, and through actions of the state.

Literary theory contributed the novel concept of postcolonialism. In the first instance, the term ‘postcolonial’ simply meant a part of a new name (postcolonial literature) for ‘Commonwealth’ literature, reflecting the new status of former colonies in the English-speaking world. However, scholars soon extended the term to encompass not only literature produced after independence, but also any writing emanating from outside the metropole. Postcolonialism came to include not just writing in English, but literature in any language used in the former colonies.8

Two important further developments followed in quick succession. Edward Said launched a wide-ranging attack on orientalism, by which he meant the process by which Western self-appointed experts constructed knowledge about the rest of the world.9 From Said’s standpoint, knowledge so obtained made illegitimate claims to truth, belying the fact that it arose within the context of European imperialism. That is to say, it was the knowledge the colonial masters needed and wanted to naturalise their imperial hegemony. The other development was the growing popularity of French post-structural philosophers, especially those who analysed the way texts seemingly construct the world. They held that we could treat no text as neutral or value-free. On the contrary, every text supposedly bore the hidden marks of the complex networks of power that created it. As taken up by the proponents of postcolonial theory, this meant that virtually every text produced in Europe or its colonies since 1492 bore the imprint of imperial power. Writers eventually came to understand postcolonialism as the analytic process of exposing the hidden traces of imperial power in any text, whether or not it possessed any claims to literary merit.

Taken together, neo-Marxism, dependency theory, feminism and postcolonialism laid the groundwork for the stunning comeback in the 1990s of Empire and Commonwealth history. As a measure of that resurgence, consider that at the time Norman Etherington launched his undergraduate unit, ‘Expanding the Raj’, at the University of Western Australia in 1991, no other Australian university history department was offering Empire and Commonwealth history. In the subsequent sixteen years, the subject has returned in many guises in history courses across Australia and the wider world. Few scholars of any Commonwealth country would now conceive it possible to offer a course on Canadian, Australian or New Zealand history without reference to the ongoing legacy of Empire. Moreover, the burgeoning popularity of global and transnational history in undergraduate curricula has helped the studies of empires move into the heart of the undergraduate history syllabus. The way research into Empire and Commonwealth history is conducted almost everywhere reflects the legacy of neo-Marxism, dependency theory, gender analysis, and postcolonialism – to the extent that current practitioners rarely bother even to cite those influences by name in their published work.

By the time most of the authors of this book began their careers, neo-Marxism and dependency theory appeared to be largely spent forces in historical scholarship; thus, they feature little in most of the chapters, although Peter Limb brings out the often hidden connections between African nationalism and black labour in his contribution. More pervasive influences as reflected in the chapters are gender and environmental analysis; and especially postcolonialism, even in the chapters in Part I on the Indian princely states and indirect rule.

In Part II, the colonial construction of knowledge emerges as the principal theme. Felicity Morel-EdnieBrown’s chapter reveals the way the power of empire became encoded in the urban landscape at the heart of the metropolis of Perth, silencing alternative narratives about the land and projecting an ersatz Englishness onto ancient sand dunes on the Indian Ocean littoral of the Australian continent. Jennifer Weir’s chapter on the famous King Shaka is a classic analysis of orientalism in action. She reveals that there were many different stories about African chiefs attempting to expose fraud among diviners. However, the white ‘experts’ who constructed Natal and Zulu history in South Africa chose one particular story, not because it was demonstrably true, but because it conformed to their colonial vision of what the story ought to have been. They discarded alternative knowledge embedded in African oral accounts. Ryôta Nishino shows how the dead hand of a colonial historian of South Africa, George McCall Theal, maintained a ghostly grip on producers of school textbooks right up to the end of the apartheid era. This was not because there were no alternatives, but because Theal’s racial and colonial agenda suited the needs of later generations who benefited from entrenched institutions of white supremacy.

Nishino reminds us of the manufacture of historical writing. That this manufacture has not been all one way is underlined by John Gascoigne, who in a recent review comparing the expansion of the British Empire with the expansion of imperial historiography reminds us of the plurality of imperial themes. Not only were there multiple empires, but ‘Imperial borders and strategies were shaped by both metropolitan goals and by the response of the peoples over whom it was intended that power should be exerted’.10 Indeed, standing behind colonial military leaders such as Chelmsford, or behind the colonial merchants, zookeepers, architects, and other officials, or even for that matter behind Antipodean prime ministers, stood the colossus of imperial power that, as we are reminded by recent international politics, is no less potent today than in the times of the British Empire.

Peter Limb’s chapter takes up a theme well known to Edward Said and students of postcolonialism: the ambiguous attitude of anti-colonial nationalists to the Empire and its institutions. Like many another oppressed people who looked to the ‘great white queen’ to right the wrongs perpetrated by white settlers, the early leaders of the African National Congress in South Africa praised the Empire for its free constitution and the rule of law, while condemning its failure to live up to its own ideals in relation to its darker-skinned subjects. Much more than this, African political leaders developed their own vehicles to assert new demands for equality and civil rights that in due course gave birth to, or reaffirmed, African identities.


A reappraisal of the national narratives that dominated the scene in the immediate aftermath of decolonisation has accompanied the dramatic return of Empire and Commonwealth to the main arena of historical studies. Instead of viewing in isolation Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, and other former colonies that carved out independent paths from imperial rule to fulfilment of a nationalist destiny, a new wave of scholars has been rediscovering the linkages that never ceased to connect them. Alan Lester has been particularly prominent among those who have exposed the networks of communication, through newspapers and correspondence, which enabled nineteenth-century colonies of white settlement to exchange information on subjects of common interest. Gareth Griffiths, H V Bowen and Andrew Thompson have demonstrated that not only did the Empire ‘write back’ in the languages of the colonial masters, but it also ‘struck back’ through the complex web of connections via immigration, commerce, labour, race and sport. These webs enmeshed metropole with periphery, whether seen in the reverse impact of the East India Company inside Britain, in Aboriginal cricketers delighting English spectators, or in Australasian and South African artisans wiring cash to hard-pressed British trade unionists.11

Jeremy Martens, Norman Etherington’s successor as the ‘guardian’ of Imperial, African and global history at the University of Western Australia, has been on the trail of similar linkages at the end of the nineteenth century, which laid the groundwork for policies designed to exclude black immigrants from white settlement colonies. As part of this larger study, he has been reappraising the role of orchestrated white mobs in spurring on exclusionist legislation in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and South Africa. His chapter on the Afghan crisis in New South Wales examines one aspect of the larger story of interaction among white settler spokespersons. Martens’s work has salutary lessons for today’s societies still grappling with living with difference.

Historians have paid a great deal of attention to forced and unforced movements of labour across the British Empire, as well as to immigration from particular countries to various destinations within the empire. Less studied are the myriad business connections across national and even imperial borders that often went unnoticed by officialdom. Using the example of trade relations between tea producers in China and the traders who dealt in their products in British Singapore and Malaya, Jason Lim’s chapter exposes the insecurities created by the vicissitudes of war, international relations and a globalising economy. The rise and eventual dominance of the tea trade by planters in British India and Ceylon transformed all the tea in China from a metaphor for abundance to a niche market based on the ethnic affiliations of overseas Chinese. Here we see the business of Empire in action and gain insights into the response of Chinese to aggressive external commercial intrusions.

Of all Empire and Commonwealth historians, John Mackenzie has surely done the most to open scholarly eyes to animals as subjects and objects of imperial attention.12 Inspired by his work, Natalie Lloyd set out to research the origins of Australasian zoos and their imperial connections. Some of her fascinating findings are set out in her chapter on ‘little worlds’. Aside from its wealth of visual material, this chapter shows how zoos depended on imperial linkages for their very existence, while at the same time providing a theatre where the animal denizens of all the empire could be displayed within a single miniature landscape symbolising, through its pagodas, thatched huts, Mughal domes of elephant enclosures, etc., the human associations of the fauna.

By far the greatest transformation in international power relations since World War II was the eclipse of old imperial powers by neo-imperial superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. After the fall of Singapore, Australian Prime Minister John Curtin publicly acknowledged that his country must look to the United States as its primary protector. In the postwar era, popular culture, business, trade and politics all showed evidence of oscillations in allegiance between the old official empire and the new unofficial imperial hegemon. Timothy Dymond’s chapter charts one little-known chapter in this drama whereby Australian conservative thought gradually cut loose from British moorings, attracted by the bright lights of a very different American conservative (and later neo-conservative) movement.

The book finishes, most appropriately, with the figure who now wields the orb and sceptre, Queen Elizabeth II. Republican movements in Australia and other Commonwealth countries have often dismissed the monarchy as a foreign institution grounded in British society. As Jennifer McGuire shows, that was not quite the case in the immediate postwar era. The Royal Family, threatened by hostile feeling at home and an ever more intrusive media, deliberately set out to present itself as the first family of the Commonwealth family of nations. Far from fleeing the media, the Palace, through its links to institutions such as the BBC, sought to turn the media to its own purposes. In this campaign, the overseas Commonwealth could be called upon to redress the imbalances of postwar Britain.


In these chapters, the authors foreground not just the people but also the places of Empire, reflecting recent attention by historians to studies of landscape and space. Australia’s built environment and its relationship with pre-colonial vistas is discussed in chapters on zoos and urban history. Here too Norman Etherington has made a significant contribution to the historiography, bringing together cutting-edge research on historical geography and cartography in a splendidly illustrated volume spanning Australia and South Africa.13

In the rush to embrace cultural studies, sight of the biographical dimension is sometimes lost. However, alongside fresh insights into the lives of prominent leaders from metropole and colony, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Robert Menzies, James Stirling, Govind Singh, Lord Chelmsford and Theophilus Shepstone, the contributors provide the reader with glimpses of long forgotten ordinary people, such as humble company tea merchants in China, the mysterious Meeta, and the irascible activist Theodore Mvalo.

Yet the work of historians on Empire is not complete. Only two of the chapters presented here, by Groenhout and Limb, highlight the agency of indigenous peoples, perhaps reflecting a certain fatigue and justified impatience with immediate postcolonial historiographies. However, the moving on by historians to new cultural studies pastures, while reaping a rich harvest in new perspectives, has been premature in one important sense. While, for example, postcolonial India can boast an impressive tapestry of studies of indigenous agency, Australia and South Africa still lack the sort of biographical and political studies to enable us to understand properly subaltern histories in their individual and regional complexity. In part this is due to the continued dearth of indigenous historians in the Academy in both countries. Glimpses of future directions are apparent in such exciting work as that of John Maynard on the extension to Australia of the influence of Garveyism, a movement with significant impact in South Africa, pointing to quite different kinds of transnational and global entanglements.14

Nevertheless, the originality and range of studies by these students and colleagues of Norman Etherington testify not just to his legacy as a scholar and mentor but also to the bright prospects of historical studies in Australasia and beyond. As John MacKenzie writes, ‘Whatever else may be said about the British Empire, it is clear that we need to understand its history in order to comprehend much of the present … Ultimately, empire was a joint enterprise between the dominant and subordinate peoples, with elements of co-operation as well as conflict ebbing and flowing in imperial territories’.15

In wide-ranging contributions, Norman Etherington has helped scholars focus on these important themes. The originality (and audacity) of Norman’s historical thought is most vividly seen in his recent provocative imagining of the paths of Southern African history. In Missions and Empire, a masterly herding of academic mission cats that is the consummation of work begun in his doctorate, he opens the eyes of historians to African agency in nineteenth-century churches.16 Perhaps, in the long run, his greatest contribution will have been to shine the historian’s spotlight on the ambiguities inherent, for ruler and subaltern, in the orb and sceptre of Empire.


1     This Introduction owes much of its inspiration, and not a little of its verve, to Norman Etherington.

2     For the early decades of the teaching of Empire history at some Australian universities, see P Limb. 1999. ‘An Australian historian at the dawn of apartheid: Fred Alexander in South Africa, 1949–50’. Electronic Journal of Australian and New Zealand History November. Accessed 26 October 2007. Available from limb.htm

3     Macmillan coined the phrase in his address to the South African parliament on 3 February 1960: ‘The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it’. Less well remembered is the historical context:

‘Ever since the break up of the Roman empire one of the constant facts of political life in Europe has been the emergence of independent nations. They have come into existence over the centuries in different forms, different kinds of government, but all have been inspired by a deep, keen feeling of nationalism, which has grown as the nations have grown.

In the twentieth century, and especially since the end of the war, the processes which gave birth to the nation states of Europe have been repeated all over the world. We have seen the awakening of national consciousness in peoples who have for centuries lived in dependence upon some other power. Fifteen years ago this movement spread through Asia. Many countries there, of different races and civilisations, pressed their claim to an independent national life’.

4     P Gifford. 1967. ‘Indirect rule: touchstone or tombstone for colonial policy’. In P Gifford and W R Louis, editors. Britain and Germany in Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press: 351–392.

5     R Kipling. 1994. Collected Stories. London: David Campbell: 220.

6     One of the first to make this case was N Etherington. 1976. ‘The origins of “indirect rule” in nineteenth-century Natal’. Theoria 47: 11–21. Much more has since been written on the subject, as summarised in T McClendon. 2002. ‘Who put the mission in civilizing mission?: reconsiderations of Shepstone’s early career’. Paper to North East Workshop on Southern Africa, April. Accessed 25 October 2007. Available from pdf/2002bwp-mcclendon.pdf.

7     Here again, on studies of empire and war, we see an Etherington footprint, in his engaging 1984 essay, Theories of Imperialism: War, Conquest, and Capital. London: Croom Helm, 1984.

8     This extended beyond the languages of the colonial masters: English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Belgian and Italian. It was applied to indigenous languages, as in the famous example of the later work of Ngugi wa Thiong’o in the African language Gikuyu. See Ngugi wa Thiong’o. 1986. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: Heinemann. He now writes in Gikuyu and then translates his work into English: see Ngugi wa Thiong’o. 2004. Murogi wa Kagogo. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, translated in 2006 as Wizard of the Crow. New York: Pantheon.

9     E Said. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Vintage. Etherington also contributed to literary studies in his 1984 and 1991 books Rider Haggard. Boston: Twayne, and The Annotated She: A Critical Edition of H. Rider Haggard’s Victorian Romance with Introduction and Notes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

10    J Gascoigne. 2006. ‘The expanding historiography of British imperialism’. Historical Journal 49 (2): 577–592, 592.

11    A Lester. 2001. Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in Nineteenth-Century South Africa and Britain. London: Routledge; B Ashcroft, G Griffiths and H Tiffin. 2002. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures. London: Routledge. 2nd edition; H V Bowen. 2006. The Business of Empire: The East India Company and Imperial Britain, 1756–1833. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; A Thompson. 2005. The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century. London: Longman: 66–67, 186–187.

12    J M Mackenzie. 1988. The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism; and 1990. Imperialism and the Natural World. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

13    N Etherington. 2007. Mapping Colonial Conquest: Australia and Southern Africa. Perth: University of Western Australia Press.

14    J Maynard. 2002. ‘Vision, voice and influence: rise of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association’. Australian Historical Studies 121: 91–105.

15    J M MacKenzie. 2006. ‘The significance of the British Empire’. In N Dalziel. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire. London: Penguin: 9.

16    N Etherington, 2001. The Great Treks: The Transformation of Southern Africa, 1815–1854. Harlow: Longman. Etherington, Missions and Empire.


Ashcroft, B; Griffiths, G; Tiffin, H. 2002. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge. 2nd ed.

Bowen, H V. 2006. The Business of Empire: The East India Company and Imperial Britain, 1756–1833. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Etherington, N. 2007. Mapping Colonial Conquest: Australia and Southern Africa. Crawley: University of Western Australia Press.

Etherington, N, editor. 2005. Missions and Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Etherington, N. 2001. The Great Treks: The Transformation of Southern Africa, 1815–1854. Harlow: Longman.

Etherington, N. 1984, Theories of Imperialism: War, Conquest, and Capital. London: Croom Helm.

Etherington, N. 1978. Preachers, Peasants, and Politics in Southeast Africa, 1835–1880: African Christian Communities in Natal, Pondoland, and Zululand. London: Royal Historical Society.

Etherington, N. 1976. ‘The origins of “indirect rule” in nineteenth-century Natal’. Theoria 47: 11–21.

Gascoigne, J. 2006. ‘The expanding historiography of British imperialism’. Historical Journal 49 (2): 577–592.

Gifford, P. 1967. ‘Indirect rule: touchstone or tombstone for colonial policy’. In P Gifford and W R Louis, editors. Britain and Germany in Africa. New Haven: Yale University Press: 351–392.

Kipling, R. 1994. Collected Stories. Selected and introduced by R Gottlieb. London: David Campbell.

Lester, A. 2001. Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in Nineteenth-Century South Africa and Britain. London: Routledge.

Limb, P. 1999. ‘An Australian historian at the dawn of apartheid: Fred Alexander in South Africa, 1949–50’. Electronic Journal of Australian and New Zealand History November. Accessed 26 October 2007. Available from articles/limb.htm.

McClendon, T. 2002. ‘Who put the mission in civilizing mission?: Reconsiderations of Shepstone’s early career’. Paper to North East Workshop on Southern Africa. April. Accessed 25 October 2007. Available from bwp/pdf/2002bwp-mcclendon.pdf.

MacKenzie, J M. 2006. ‘The significance of the British Empire’. In N Dalziel. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire. London: Penguin: 8–9.

MacKenzie, J M. 1990. Imperialism and the Natural World. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

MacKenzie, J M. 1988. The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Maynard, J. 2002. ‘Vision, voice and influence: rise of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association’. Australian Historical Studies 121: 91–105.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o. 1986. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: Heinemann.

Robinson, R; Gallagher, J; Denny, A. 1961. Africa and the Victorians: The Official Mind of Imperialism. London: Macmillan.

Said, E. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.

Thompson, A. 2005. The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century. London: Longman.

Cite this chapter as: Limb, Peter. 2008. ‘Introduction’. Orb and Sceptre: Studies on British Imperialism and its Legacies, in Honour of Norman Etherington, edited by Limb, Peter. Melbourne: Monash University ePress. pp v–xv.

Copyright 2008 Peter Limb
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Orb and Sceptre: Studies on British Imperialism and its Legacies, in Honour of Norman Etherington

   by Peter Limb