Civilizing War

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3603-8

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3604-5

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3602-1
Publication Date
December 2017
Page Count
264 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9
ISBN
0-8101-3602-3

Civilizing War

Imperial Politics and the Poetics of National Rupture
Nasser Mufti

Civilizing War traces the historical transformation of civil war from a civil affair into an uncivil crisis. Civil war is today synonymous with the global refugee crisis, often serving as grounds for liberal-humanitarian intervention and nationalist protectionism.

In Civilizing War, Nasser Mufti situates this contemporary conjuncture in the long history of British imperialism, demonstrating how civil war has been and continues to be integral to the politics of empire. Through comparative readings of literature, criticism, historiography, and social analysis, Civilizing War shows how writers and intellectuals of Britain’s Anglophone empire articulated a “poetics of national rupture” that defined the metropolitan nation and its colonial others.

Mufti’s tour de force marshals a wealth of examples as diverse as Thomas Carlyle, Benjamin Disraeli, Friedrich Engels, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, V. S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, and Michael Ondaatje to examine the variety of forms this poetics takes—metaphors, figures, tropes, puns, and plot—all of which have played a central role in Britain’s civilizing mission and its afterlife. In doing so, Civilizing War shifts the terms of Edward Said’s influential Orientalism to suggest that imperialism was not only organized around the norms of civility but also around narratives of civil war.
About the Author

NASSER MUFTI is an assistant professor in the department of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Reviews

"This book is an excellent example of what post-colonial criticism was intended to be: a serious historical engagement with the texts that emerged in the encounter between the colonizer and the colonized in the postcolonial world. Mufti makes a powerful statement on the relationship between colonial governmentality and the poetics of empire, and a clear and sustained connection between the discourses surrounding the idea of civil war, the civilization claims of colonial rule, and the imbrication of texts in this arena.” —Simon E. Gikandi, author of Reading the African Novel and Slavery and the Culture of Taste

"What if we thought of the nation as populated by citizens not so much willing to die for their fellow countrymen as willing to kill them? The Victorians did.  As Nasser Mufti shows, before civil war became an excuse for imperial intervention, it was a part of domestic history that the 19th century did not feel it had to or indeed could forget. Mufti ties the domestic and the imperial together in a brilliant excavation of the 19th century that is also a dazzling polemic with the reigning wisdom of cultural theory." —Bruce Robbins, author of The Beneficiary