Chapter 4Empire, migration and race in the British parliament (1803–2005)
The chapter studies the intertwined topics of Empire,
migration and race in the Hansard Corpus (1803–2005). The British Empire
emerges as a prominent topic from the mid-nineteenth century, but rapidly
recedes into insignificance in the two decades following World War II.
Emigration dominates in the nineteenth century, whereas immigration takes
over in the twentieth century. References to race remain
frequent throughout, though in the context of two contrasting discourses.
Older uses show a broad range of adjective + noun combinations classifying
the ‘human race’ on the basis of geographical or physical characteristics
(e.g. English race, Indian race, white/black/brown/yellow
race) or evaluating groups within a colonialist ideology of
white supremacy (e.g. backward/advanced races). Recent and
contemporary use of the term is dominated by high-frequency nominal
compounds belonging to the vocabulary of identity politics (e.g.
race relations). The study situates itself at the
interface of historical linguistics, colonial history and cultural studies.
Methodologically, it raises the question of the future relationship between
corpus linguistics and the Digital Humanities.
- 2.Data and methods
- 3.From the century of emigration to the century of immigration
- 4.Colonial and contemporary discourses of race: The evidence from Hansard
- 5.‘Race’: From corpus linguistics to cultural studies