Reading Failure in the Colonial Archive/Reinscribing Defeat in Imperial History: The British Occupation of Manila (1762–64) and the Decline of Spain’s Pacific Empire
This paper probes perceptions of the British occupation of Manila as a British failure articulated by those Company officials and Naval officers who had been on the ground in the Philippines in the public pamphlets and private correspondence they produced in the aftermath of the war. It also traces how their profound sense of defeat was eventually erased from the historical record: by the mid-20th century, British imperial historians reinterpreted the occupation as a resounding success, reinscribing it as another step in Empire’s inevitable march towards domination of the Pacific world. I consider how the disappearance of defeat influenced enduring metanarratives of empire in Pacific and Global history, and what can be gained by viewing the past through the lens of failure.
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