Britain Afraid: Imperial Insecurities and National Fears, 1798-1945

Britain Afraid: Imperial Insecurities and National Fears, 1798-1945

Department of History, Liverpool John Moores University, in cooperation with the Invasion Network
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
11.06.2020 - 12.06.2020
Andre Keil

Keynote Speaker: Professor Kim Wagner (Queen Mary, University of London)

LJMU History, in partnership with the Invasion Network, invites papers discussing the interplay between cultures of anxiety and fears in British national and imperial life, for presentation and discussion at a two-day conference at Liverpool John Moores University, 11-12 June 2020.

The study of imperial anxieties, fears of radicalism and invasion scares in Britain has long fascinated scholars, producing a rich corpus of material on late Victorian and pre-1914 panics, in particular those connected to espionage, terrorist attacks and the rise of rival powers. This conference seeks to expand the discourse on British anxieties outwards chronologically. In doing so, we aim to identify continuities and fractures in beliefs and fears from the period of the empire-shaking Irish Rebellion of 1798 through to the end of the Second World War. This will allow us to track the shifting contours of an enduring, adaptable and divisive set of interrelated discourses and to chart evolving practical responses to them across an historical era of great change for Britain, in both national and imperial contexts. To this end, we welcome individual paper submissions and suggestions for panels focusing on anxieties, imaginations and panics relating to the following topics:

- Colonial wars, rebellions and insurgencies
- Invasions of colonial and quasi-colonial spaces and/or the British Isles (e.g. British spheres of influence in China, Latin America)
- Imperial rivalries and the rise of new powers
- Terrorism (Fenian, anarchist or colonial)
- Immigration waves and the incursions of “others” into British national life
- Depictions of invasion, future war and terrorist attacks in fictional cultural works like novels, plays and films
- Media discourse on invasion, future war, terrorism and imperial insecurities
- Class, race, religion, gender etc in these discourses of fear
- Digital humanities approaches to studying these discourses of fear

Submissions for individual papers should include the: name of presenter, paper title, abstract (200 words) and brief bio (50 words).

Submissions for panels should include: the names of the presenters, panel title, abstract (220 words) and brief bios of the participants (50 words).

Please send all proposals to no later than Friday 28 February 2020.


The Invasion Network has been established to encourage collaboration between researchers working under the broad theme of invasion, with a particular focus on British invasion fears in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bringing together literary scholars, cultural historians, and a range of other specialists and independent researchers, the network aims to further understanding of a phenomenon that, while often considered in passing, has rarely been analysed in great detail.
Emerging out of two key workshops, ‘Empire in Peril: Invasion-Scares and Popular Politics in Britain, 1890-1914 (Queen Mary University of London, November 2013) and more recently ‘Master of Misinformation: William Le Queux, Invasion Scares and Spy Fever, 1880-1930′ (Trinity College Dublin, June 2015), the network is conceived as a forum through which to develop, promote, and ultimately publish research addressing the British experience of invasion anxieties. This includes maintaining a list of scholars working in the area, offering a platform for advertising conferences and other events, and providing a blogging space for discussion and debates.
If you would like to join The Invasion Network, or require more information, then please contact Harry Wood: or Ailise Bulfin:



Andre Keil

Department of History, Liverpool John Moores University
80-98 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5UZ