Selling the Congo : a history of European pro-empire propaganda and the making of Belgian imperialism / Matthew G. Stanard.

By: Stanard, Matthew GMaterial type: TextTextSeries: JSTOR eBooksPublisher: Lincoln [Neb.] : University of Nebraska Press, ©2011Description: 1 online resource (xiv, 387 pages :) : illustrationsContent type: text Media type: computer Carrier type: online resourceISBN: 9780803239883; 0803239882Additional physical formats: Print version:: Selling the Congo.DDC classification: 325/.3493096751 LOC classification: JV2818 | .S73 2011Online resources: Click here to view this ebook. Summary: "Belgium was a small, neutral country without a colonial tradition when King Leopold II ceded the Congo, his personal property, to the state in 1908. For the next half-century Belgium not only ruled an African empire but also, through widespread, enduring, and eagerly embraced propaganda, produced an imperialist-minded citizenry. Selling the Congo is a study of European pro-empire propaganda in Belgium, with particular emphasis on the period 1908-60. Matthew G. Stanard questions the nature of Belgian imperialism in the Congo and considers the Belgian case in light of literature on the French, British, and other European overseas empires. Comparing Belgium to other imperial powers, the book finds that pro-empire propaganda was a basic part of European overseas expansion and administration during the modern period. Arguing against the long-held belief that Belgians were merely "reluctant imperialists," Stanard demonstrates that in fact many Belgians readily embraced imperialistic propaganda. Selling the Congo contributes to our understanding of the effectiveness of twentieth-century propaganda by revealing its successes and failures in the Belgian case. Many readers familiar with more-popular histories of Belgian imperialism will find in this book a deeper examination of European involvement in central Africa during the colonial era."-- Provided by publisher.
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Includes bibliographical references (pages 333-378) and index.

"Belgium was a small, neutral country without a colonial tradition when King Leopold II ceded the Congo, his personal property, to the state in 1908. For the next half-century Belgium not only ruled an African empire but also, through widespread, enduring, and eagerly embraced propaganda, produced an imperialist-minded citizenry. Selling the Congo is a study of European pro-empire propaganda in Belgium, with particular emphasis on the period 1908-60. Matthew G. Stanard questions the nature of Belgian imperialism in the Congo and considers the Belgian case in light of literature on the French, British, and other European overseas empires. Comparing Belgium to other imperial powers, the book finds that pro-empire propaganda was a basic part of European overseas expansion and administration during the modern period. Arguing against the long-held belief that Belgians were merely "reluctant imperialists," Stanard demonstrates that in fact many Belgians readily embraced imperialistic propaganda. Selling the Congo contributes to our understanding of the effectiveness of twentieth-century propaganda by revealing its successes and failures in the Belgian case. Many readers familiar with more-popular histories of Belgian imperialism will find in this book a deeper examination of European involvement in central Africa during the colonial era."-- Provided by publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

While historical memories of colonialism and pro-imperial propaganda have a rich literature in a range of European countries, few historians have explored similar themes in 20th-century Belgium history. Stanard (Berry College) provides a welcome corrective to this gap in the literature. He convincingly demonstrates how both government authorities and private individuals constructed narratives that silenced Congolese perspectives and celebrated the notorious early years of Leopold II's rule over the Congo as a period of heroic progress. In colonial propaganda, the Congo colony served as a means of uniting a Belgian nation deeply divided by language. The Belgian government proved much more determined to control the flow of information from the colony to the metropole than most other European colonial powers, to the point that very few Congolese had lived in Belgium prior to the 1950s. One sign of the success of proponents of Belgian rule at home was how many Belgians took their propaganda at face value well after independence in 1960. An excellent contribution to the growing literature on the European advocacy of colonialism in the 20th century. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. M. Rich Marywood University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Matthew G. Stanard is an associate professor of history at Berry College. His articles have appeared in publications such as the Journal of Contemporary History , French Colonial History , and European History Quarterly .

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