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“Jumboism Is Akin to Jingoism”: Race, Nation and Empire in the Elephant Craze of 1882

chapter
posted on 06.08.2019 by Peter Yeandle
The Jumbomania of 1882 was the patriotic ‘sensation’ unleashed when London Zoo decided to sell its prized African elephant, Jumbo, to the controversial American showman P.T. Barnum. Yeandle’s chapter analyses Jumbomania to demonstrate how a seemingly trivial media sensation tapped into and articulated popular contemporary racial and imperial ideologies: as the largest elephant in captivity, Jumbo’s size marked him out as an imperial trophy; his ‘taming’ became emblematic of civilising mission; his choreographed refusal to travel demonstrated his patriotism. Jumbomania captured the public imagination, dominating various sites of mass entertainment, literary culture, and broadcast media. Moreover, Jumbo’s symbolic significance was instrumentalised in wider debates about Britain’s imperial health, economic and foreign policy, and moral commitment to combat slavery on the African continent.
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Keyword(s)

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Politics and International Studies

Published in

The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History: Essays in Honour of John M. MacKenzie

Pages

47-74

Publisher

Palgrave Macmillan

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© the Author

Publisher statement

Reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan

Publication date

2019-10-30

Copyright date

2019

ISBN

9783030244583; 303024458X

Book series

Britain and the World

Language

en

Editor(s)

Stephanie Barczewski, Martin Farr

Depositor

Dr Peter Yeandle

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