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Introduction: North, South, East — and West; The Strangeness of ‘Debateable Lands’

  • Susan Oliver

Abstract

The first years of the nineteenth century constituted a period in which many political and cultural borders across the world were being contested and redrawn, particularly within Europe and Europe’s expanding sphere of influence in the Near East. Whilst the contributory factors behind these changes were many, the main reasons for instability were global war, revolution, and modernization of social and economic structures, themselves rooted in developments in science, agriculture, industry and commerce across the eighteenth century. Within Britain, the French Revolution and involvement in the subsequent Napoleonic wars gave rise on the one hand to fears of invasion, and, on the other, to a considerable degree of public anxiety about social unrest within the home nation. At the margins where Europe bordered on the Islamic Near and Middle East, the European ‘superpowers’ of Britain, France, Russia and Austria all used a combination of diplomacy and aggression to establish their interest in the countries along the western frontiers of the declining Ottoman Empire. Meanwhile, at home in intellectual circles, approaches to understanding human social history in terms of a series of universally applicable stages, and the new science of political economy, had emerged from the Scottish Enlightenment as areas at the forefront of philosophical and scientific debate. Within such a context of confrontation and public discussion, it is hardly surprising that literary conceptualizations of real and imagined borders of varying kinds, along with speculation premised on the possibilities arising for their confrontation and transgression, became part of the spirit of the age.

Keywords

Eighteenth Century Early Nineteenth Century Liminal Space Cultural Border Cultural Encounter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
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    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak’, Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory, ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester/Wheatsheaf, 1993), pp. 66–111.Google Scholar
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© Susan Oliver 2005

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  • Susan Oliver

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