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Title:"A disgrace to her Colours": the Mediterranean population problem & tactics of governmentality in eighteenth-century Gibraltar
Author(s):Smith, Rachel Diane
Director of Research:Rabin, Dana
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rabin, Dana
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Burton, Antoinette; Crowston, Clare; Pollock, Anthony
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
British empire
Abstract:This dissertation examines the pervading sense of crisis among Gibraltar's eighteenth-century British governors, caused by the large-scale geopolitical conflicts of the period and the multiethnic inhabitants of the territory, and the commanders' attempts to manage that crisis by embracing technologies of governmentality. Captured by Anglo-Dutch forces in 1704, Britain formally acquired this Mediterranean possession in 1713. Shortly after its acquisition, Britons embraced the territory as their own, proclaiming it to be a "bulwark" of Great Britain and "bastion" of Britishness. However, the reality on the ground belied such rhetoric. British Gibraltar was in actuality a Mediterranean meeting ground, bringing together peoples, ideas, and goods from across the region. The vast majority of the town's population was comprised of foreign migrants who settled in Gibraltar seeking the many opportunities that the British garrison offered. These individuals brought with them a variety of cultural, religious, and political identities that impacted the growth and development of the territory, creating a multi-cultural space that was both produced by and participated in the Mediterranean world. These foreign bodies and their foreign mores also impacted the governance of the territory. As experienced British military men, Gibraltar's governors desired a British Gibraltar like they had imagined, one with British laws, institutions, and peoples to serve as a British Protestant stronghold in a hostile (non-Protestant) sea. Yet this was not possible with the current composition of the town's population. As they understood it, the foreign inhabitants posed a threat to their efforts to secure Gibraltar for Britain. Concerned by these individuals and driven by the need to manage this population, Gibraltar's governors employed techniques of governmentality in order to better "see" any threats and "know" the population. In their minds, practices like surveillance, census taking, quarantine, and the use of documentary regimes were necessary for them to grasp Gibraltar’s peoples and take control of the territory. The commanders consolidated this knowledge into an imperial archive, which they believed provided an orderly and rational picture of the territory. I argue that the governors embraced such tactics because they believed this would enable them to solve the population problem in Gibraltar and secure Britain's hold on the garrison. However, the commanders' "necessary" technologies were largely driven by their exaggerated fear of the foreign and their unsuccessful desire to create an ideally British Protestant territory. The governors' tactics suggests a larger trend of population management that developed across the empire, but Gibraltar offers a key promontory of this phenomenon on a local level.
Issue Date:2016-01-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Rachel Smith
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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