Vampire and Empire: Dracula and the Imperial Gaze

Stu Burns

Abstract


Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula was enmeshed in the discourse of British Imperialism, both in its composition and its reception. Stoker drew on Imperial-era studies to lend his narrative verisimilitude, including material on history, folklore, and geography from all over the world. As the range of Orientalist studies grew going into the twentieth century, Dracula effectively became part of imperial discourse, both in its own portrayal of the exotic,  dangerous East and for its association with the vampire motif that recurred in colonialist texts. This paper will examine the context of Dracula and vampiric tropes in imperialist rhetoric, focusing on the literature and ethnography of regions specifically cited in the novel. These include Britain’s tropical colonies in Malaysia and India, as well as the Empire’s sphere of influence in China. Special attention will be paid to the power relations inherent in the “imperial gaze,” as well as European fears of reverse colonialism and, more acutely, the problems of mimetic desire and “going native.”

Keywords


Dracula (novel); Bram Stoker; Vampires; British Empire; Orientalism

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.16.1.2017.3563

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