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The Bloomsbury Chapter Stevenson Lecture 2021

Book Empires: Investigating British Publishing in Colonial Africa, Caroline Davis  

This year's Stevenson Memorial lecture reflects on the book trade as a hidden but crucial aspect of the British colonial enterprise in Africa. While the colonial histories of other British cultural institutions have recently come under public scrutiny, for example in the museum and heritage sectors, the involvement of the British publishing industry in supporting British imperial interests in Africa has to date escaped such attention. The lecture presents the findings of Caroline Davis's research on the production of knowledge about Africa and reveals the networks and alliances between British publishers and the colonial government. The talk also reflects on the methods of investigating this mainstream, but nevertheless obscure,  publishing history, using both large bibliographic data sets and discourse analysis techniques, as well as archival research.  Using examples of British publishers from 1900-1945, she considers the cultural, political, and commercial significance of this book trade and the implications of this historical legacy. 
Dr Caroline Davis is an Associate Professor in Publishing in the Department of Information Studies at University College London. She is the author of African Literature and the CIA: Networks of Authorship and Publishing (2020) and Creating Postcolonial Literature: African Writers and British Publishers (2013) and she is the editor of Print Cultures: A Reader in Theory and Practice (2019), co- editor of Print Culture in Southern Africa (2021) and co-editor of The Book in Africa: Critical Debates (2015). Her current research project 'Book Empires: British Publishing in Africa 1900-1965' has been generously funded by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2020-2022). 

This is a free event run in partnership with UCL Department of Information Studies, Bloomsbury Chapter, and the Institute of English Studies.

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