This review essay situates Christopher Taylor’s Empire of Neglect: The West Indies in the Wake of British Liberalism (2018) in the context of the two-decade-long debate about the emergence of a liberal imperialism during the nineteenth century. Through an examination of the political economy of emancipation in the British West Indies, Taylor recasts the problem of liberal imperialism by decentering its justificatory discourses in the metropole to examine its practical effects in the colonies. In this turn, he provides an important and missing “materialization” of liberal empire that makes the deep connections between free trade and freeing slaves legible. The practical and theoretical coincidence of these nineteenth-century developments as well as Taylor’s reconstruction of a West Indian tradition of political economy provide a new way of conceptualizing colonial economic violence elaborated as the product of a neglectful empire. It is in this tradition of critiquing and resisting a neglectful empire that we find critical and normative resources to think beyond the terms of our own entrapments within the terms of liberal political economy.
Research Article| November 01 2019
The Problem of Liberal Empire Reconsidered
Small Axe (2019) 23 (3 (60)): 167–177.
Adom Getachew; The Problem of Liberal Empire Reconsidered. Small Axe 1 November 2019; 23 (3 (60)): 167–177. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7912466
Download citation file: