CFP: ‘Britain Afraid: Imperial Insecurities and National Fears, 1798-1945’


Britain Afraid: Imperial Insecurities and National Fears, 1798-1945

Liverpool John Moores University

11-12 June 2020

Keynote Speaker: Professor Kim Wagner (Queen Mary, UCL)

LJMU History, in partnership with the Invasion Network, invites papers discussing the interplay between cultures of anxiety and fears in British national and imperial life, for presentation and discussion at a two-day conference at Liverpool John Moores University, 11-12 June 2020.

The study of imperial anxieties, fears of radicalism and invasion scares in Britain has long fascinated scholars, producing a rich corpus of material on late Victorian and pre-1914 panics, in particular those connected to espionage, terrorist attacks and the rise of rival powers. This conference seeks to expand the discourse on British anxieties outwards chronologically. In doing so, we aim to identify continuities and fractures in beliefs and fears from the period of the empire-shaking Irish Rebellion of 1798 through to the end of the Second World War. This will allow us to track the shifting contours of an enduring, adaptable and divisive set of interrelated discourses and to chart evolving practical responses to them across an historical era of great change for Britain, in both national and imperial contexts. To this end, we welcome individual paper submissions and suggestions for panels focusing on anxieties, imaginations and panics relating to the following topics:

  • Colonial wars, rebellions and insurgencies
  • Invasions of colonial and quasi-colonial spaces and/or the British Isles (e.g. British spheres of influence in China, Latin America)
  • Imperial rivalries and the rise of new powers
  • Terrorism (Fenian, anarchist or colonial)
  • Immigration waves and the incursions of “others” into British national life
  • Depictions of invasion, future war and terrorist attacks in fictional cultural works like novels, plays and films
  • Media discourse on invasion, future war, terrorism and imperial insecurities
  • Class, race, religion, gender etc in these discourses of fear
  • Digital humanities approaches to studying these discourses of fear


Submissions for individual papers should include the: name of presenter, paper title, abstract (200 words) and brief bio (50 words).

Submissions for panels should include: the names of the presenters, panel title, abstract (220 words) and brief bios of the participants (50 words).

Please send all proposals to no later than Friday 28 February 2020.



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