Nicole Mares

  • Fellowship year:2009-2010
  • University: Indiana University
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Africa
  • Dissertation Title: Britons and Boers: Civilization and Identity in Nineteenth-Century South Africa
  • Contemporaries as well as modern historians have connected the Boer War to, and in many cases, blamed it for, the demise of the formidable nineteenth-century British Empire.  But the crisis stemming from the war had far reaching implications for the British, not just their Empire; the Anglo-Boer war managed to call into question the many political and social characteristics that had for centuries constituted modern Britishness: Enlightenment, liberalism, industry, nationalism, social hierarchy, and empire.

    The Anglo-Boer War’s importance developed from the British Empire’s ultimate failure to exert control over another white, imperial population.  Analyzing the Anglo-Boer relationship by focusing on concepts of civilization and categories of identity, such as race, gender, and religion, alongside questions of nationalism, I demonstrate how the century-long struggle with Boers in South Africa was in many ways a struggle with Britain’s own sense of its weakening global powers in the increasingly interconnected, competitive world of the early twentieth century.