Neil Ramsey (2013, 2017)
The University of New South Wales

The Orientalist Emotions of Modern War: Imperial Conflict in Eighteenth-Century Travel Writing

This project asks both how warfare was represented in British travel writing during the period from 1750-1820 and what such representations can reveal about the affective disposition in Britain towards its wars.

South East Angle of Osar crop.jpg

The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are widely acknowledged as foundational to the development of modern forms of warfare. Yet although military historians have long noted the importance of emotion in such developments, they have typically only studied emotion in a European context, as a core component in the mass mobilization of national populations for total war. There has been far less interest in the role of imperial conflict in generating European emotional responses to war. Yet as recent work has begun to demonstrate, the affective dimensions of modern wartime are dependent upon the cultural mediation of distant conflict to a population necessarily at a remove from war’s violence. The affects of modern war are not wholly reducible to nationalist forms, but rather circulate across the temporalities and geopolitical structuring of war’s operation. The emotions surrounding globalised imperial conflict are intimately linked with those surrounding national warfare.

Recent conference papers

‘Orientalism, Travel Writing and the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84)’, War, Travel, Travel Writing Conference, Norwich, UK, November 2014.

‘Orientalist Violence in Romantic Era Travel Writing’, British Association for Romantic Studies 2013 Biennial Conference, Southampton, England, July 2013.


Image: Richard Harraden, after James Hunter. “South East Angle of Osar”, in A Brief History of Ancient and Modern India, from the Earliest Period of Antiquity to the Termination of the Late Mahratta War (London: Edward Orme, 1804) ©Trustees of the British Museum