H-Diplo Roundtable XXIV-4 on Bell, Dreamworlds of Race, corrected

christopher ball's picture

Editor's note: The original post of this roundtable ommitted the essay by Amanda Behm. This page and the PDF have been updated. We apologize for the error.

H-Diplo Roundtable XXIV-4

Duncan Bell.  Dreamworlds of Race: Empire and the Utopian Destiny of Anglo-AmericaPrinceton: Princeton University Press, 2020.  ISBN:  9780691194011 (hardcover, 2020).

23 September 2022 | https://hdiplo.org/to/RT24-4
Editor:  Diane Labrosse | Commissioning Editor: Georgios Giannakopoulos | Production Editor: George Fujii


Introduction by Georgios Giannakopoulos, City, University of London, and Marc-William Palen, University of Exeter. 2

Review by Amanda Behm, University of York. 4

Review by Sam Klug, Emory University. 5

Review by Ryoko Nakano, Kanazawa University. 9

Review by Neil Suchak, University of Oxford.. 13

Response by Duncan Bell, University of Cambridge.. 17




Duncan Bell’s Dreamworlds of Race is a timely intervention in the field of imperial and international thought. In many ways this book continues Bell’s earlier studies on the Anglo-American discourses of imperial federation and on the theoretical underpinnings of liberal imperial ideology. It completes a trilogy dissecting what the author calls “the metropolitan settler imaginary” (3).[1] Utopian ideas about racial unity were a key feature of the Anglo-American metropolitan settler imaginary of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bell dissects this timely pattern of thinking by focusing on individual and varied case-studies that include industrialists (Andrew Carnegie), imperialists (Cecil Rhodes), journalists (W.T. Stead) and, finally, utopian writers (H.G. Wells). But Dreamworlds of Race is also about much more. Bell takes on the late Victorian genre of science fiction and argues for its importance in propagating ideas of racial utopianism. He is also interested in how racial utopias of an Anglo-American union—a peaceful Anglo-American imperial order, or Anglotopia—framed wider debates on war, peace, and citizenship. While Amanda Behm, Sam Klug, Ryoko Nakano, and Neil Suchak provide wide-ranging reviews of Bell’s book, all agree that Dreamworlds of Race is a timely and compelling intervention.

Amanda Behm situates Bell’s work in dialogue with the work of James Belich, Marilyn Lake, and Henry Reynolds.[1] She applauds the critical eye that Dreamworlds of Race casts on Anglo-American visions of international order, and the history of Anglo-American relations more widely. Behm focuses particularly on Bell’s reading of H.G. Wells and traces an ambiguity that frames the book revolving around the function of racial thinking in Wells’s thought.  Sam Klug discusses Bell’s discussion on citizenship and patriotism. Klug applauds Bell’s dissection of racialized forms of citizenship proposed by those invested in the political project of Anglo-American union. He argues that Bell could have integrated more systematically in his analysis the political “challenges to the authority and coherence of whiteness” and as an example he mentions the American debates on immigration. Ryoko Nakano analyses the book’s analysis on late twentieth century neo-Victorian fiction and the discussion of “Afro-modern perspectives.” Nakano argues that an exploration of alternative non-western utopian imaginaries linked with the ideologies of Pan-Islamism and Pan-Asianism could be a fruitful way of expanding and developing further some of Bell’s key insights on the making of racialized anti-imperial imaginaries. Neil Suchak, finally, highlights Bell’s complex analysis of the problem of peace and the links between peace theories and racialized Anglo-Saxon utopias. He argues that “the integration of this racialized and utopian definition of peace into the study of the wider scene of peace activism warrants further scholarship.”

In his substantive response, Bell addresses the points of all of the reviewers. He agrees with their suggestions for further exploration, including the American South, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, pan-Asianism, pan-Islamism, and utopian “dream” language. Bell also expands upon the racialized contradictions that Behm observes within the work of Wells. Bell agrees with Klug that more work could be done on the connections between Anglo-Saxonism, immigration, and white supremacy, while highlighting where Dreamworlds does engage with these issues. Bell next acknowledges Nakano’s points about further developing pan-isms (e.g., Pan-Asianism, Pan-Africanism) to incorporate spatial imaginaries beyond the “West-centric world order.” He concludes by responding to Suchak, including his suggestion that Bell perhaps underplayed the resonance of his book’s findings for interdisciplinary peace studies, such as democratic peace theory, the women’s peace movement, and international arbitration. The richness of this roundtable discussion illustrates the importance of Bell’s book, as well as how it opens the door for further investigation.


Duncan Bell is Professor of Political Thought and International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Christ’s College. He is Co-Director of the Cambridge Centre for Political Thought. His research focuses on visions of world order in Britain and the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Dreamworlds of Race (Princeton, 2020) is his most recent book. His current work explores how the future of humanity has been imagined – by philosophers, scientists, and fiction writers – since the late nineteenth century.

Georgios Giannakopoulos is Lecturer in Modern History at City University of London and a visiting research fellow at King’s College, London. His publications include “Britain, European Civilization and the Idea of Liberty,” in the edited special issue History of European Ideas 46/5 (2020), “A World Safe for Empires? A.J. Toynbee and Internationalization of Self-Determination in the East (1912-1922), Global Intellectual History 6:4 (2021). He is currently completing a monograph on British international thought and imperial order in southeastern Europe (1870-1930) with Manchester University Press.   

Marc-William Palen is a historian at the University of Exeter. His publications include “Empire by Imitation? US Economic Imperialism in a British World System,” in Martin Thomas and Andrew Thompson, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the Ends of Empire (Oxford, 2018) and The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalisation, 1846-1896 (Cambridge, 2016). His current book project with Princeton University Press explores the left-wing fight for globalism, anti-imperialism, and peace since the mid-nineteenth century. 

Amanda Behm is Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York. Her first book, Imperial History and the Global Politics of Exclusion: Britain, 1880-1940, appeared with Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. She is working on two current projects: “Parliamentary Empire: British Democracy and Settler Colonialism, c.1867-1939” (organized with Professor David Thackeray at the University of Exeter), and a study of British visions of the North American Pacific Coast after 1846 as they shaped imperial culture and politics.

Sam Klug is an incoming postdoctoral fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University. He is working on a monograph provisionally titled “The Internal Colony: Black Internationalism, Development, and the Politics of Colonial Comparison in the United States.” His work has appeared in Journal of the History of International Law, Modern Intellectual History, and the volume Globalizing the U.S. Presidency: Postcolonial Views of John F. Kennedy (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Ryoko Nakano is Professor of International Relations in the Faculty of Law at Kanazawa University, Japan. For more than a decade, she has engaged in the study of Japanese political thought in pre- and post-war eras and has published extensively on Yanaihara Tadao (1893-1961), the chair of colonial studies at Tokyo Imperial University. Her areas of interests comprise memory of war, identity politics, and the role of ideas in international relations. Nakano has served as a guest editor for International Journal of Asian Studies, and her recent work explores UNESCO, cultural heritage, and memory politics in East Asia.

Neil Suchak is a D.Phil. Student at the University Oxford where he researches the imperial dimensions of the nineteenth century American peace movement.



In Dreamworlds of Race, Duncan Bell explores a range of influential and disturbingly resonant visions for the unification of Britain and the United States, or “Anglo-America,” that emerged between 1880 and 1914. Examining mainly British perspectives, the book proceeds from a careful redrawing of James Belich’s “Angloworld” as well as the broader circuitry of imagined “white men’s countries” vividly traced by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds.[2] Bells lays out two main channels of activism: the consolidation of Britain and British settler colonies, and the tightening of relations between Britain and the United States. If Bell’s first book, The Idea of Greater Britain, compelled intellectual and political historians of Britain and empire to grapple with the metropolitan settler imaginary, this volume should achieve similar impact with its complex rendering of Anglo-America as concept and cause.[3] Indeed, the book frames its contribution as a study of the political thought of Anglo-America, a “rarer” remit than work on ideologies of intra-imperial cooperation and comparison or on Anglo-Saxonism (2). It tackles head-on the ambiguous role that Bell’s earlier books assigned to the United States relative to late-Victorian settler colonial theorizing, and it takes seriously the intellectual, moral, and avowedly utopian agendas that endowed a distinctly Anglo-American brand of white supremacy with much of its potency and wretched durability.

The movement for Anglo-America, like that for Greater Britain, emerged from pitched intellectual ferment as political imaginaries morphed in the face of scientific and technological innovation. “[D]reams of imperial and racial union” flowed at the end of the nineteenth century from “a fissile mix of anxiety and hope” (2). If the window of action were missed, in this calculus, the Angloworld would dissolve and the British Empire plunge irreparably into decline. Against this backdrop, Dreamworlds argues that the movement for Anglo-America reflected historically unique technological, intellectual, and moral coordinates; was a distinct but overlapping project relative to Britain’s relationship with its settler colonies; and was riven by debates over constitutional form, political strategy, and “the value of imperialism” relative to the ultimate ends of union. Yet even the most ardent Anglo-American campaigners split in their political cosmologies. The resulting “racial dreamworld,” for all its common stock in motifs and idiom, emerged “fractured, contested, and unstable” (2).

Dreamworlds highlights these developments by bringing analyses of individual writers and campaigners under the same cover as critical explorations of key concepts. The first three chapters focus on Andrew Carnegie, W. T. Stead (along with Stead’s sometimes co-campaigner and muse, Cecil Rhodes), and the surprisingly enigmatic H. G. Wells. The effect is chronological and interlocutory. The Scottish-American arch-industrialist Carnegie was a mid-Victorian radical liberal turned Gilded Age capitalist with no patience for talk of expansive subject empire or imperial federation, the latter being fetishes he believed would distract from Anglo-American union. Carnegie’s “race imperialism” stemmed from a “Teutonic” reading of U.S. history and a fundamental belief in utopia based on competition and class reconciliation, not equality (56-65). In Stead, who was the era’s leading journalist, Dreamworlds finds a foil to Carnegie’s dissolving vision of empire as well as a tireless public campaigner who knew and argued with everyone. Stead sought both formal Anglo-American union and subject-imperial reach, a “steroidal fantasy of global imperial development” expressed through various formal acts of federation (imperial, Anglo-American, and European) to manifest the workings of divine providence (129). Joined to Stead, Rhodes—the Anglo-South African mining magnate and rabid advocate of late-nineteenth-century Anglo-Saxon global domination—gets a delicious come-uppance. So, too, do Rhodes’s latter-day apologists. In Bell’s reading, Rhodes was “no deep thinker” but neither was he an earnest ventriloquist of stock beliefs. Rather, he was a distinctly useful megalomaniac whose visions of British supremacy in Southern and Eastern Africa, imperial federation, and the “recovery” of the United States by the British Empire propelled outsized political legend and fed the “necromanc[y] of modern English imperialism” in which a cultish fixation on pasts, death, visions, and dreams were translated into action (136). 

The chapter on author and social critic Wells delivers a fascinating interrogation of what Bell calls “one of the most sophisticated versions of the argument for unifying the ‘English-Speaking Peoples,’” warts and all (153). Where others looked backward, Wells— who by 1914 had achieved worldwide literary fame— embraced philosophical pragmatism and styled himself as an antagonist of “the retrospective habit” and gadfly amongst major contemporary social reform and imperialist movements, grounded as they were in forms of romanticism and neo-Hegelian idealism which fed (to Wells’s mind) pernicious nationalism. Wells assailed the going racial and historical categories and theories of the day, emphasizing instead consciousness and “common purpose” (189).[4] There’s a touch of admiration in Bell’s account of Wells— a relishing of rejoinder, keenly rendered. But there emerges a tension in this chapter which strikes me as the centerpiece of the book. Wells’s vision of utopia hinged on a “New Republic” forged by an intellectually elite Anglo-American vanguard. Though Wells supposedly eschewed racial and national categories, we’re left with the puzzle of how he nonetheless “wound up reproducing a racialized vision of world order” (152-3). There are hints in Bell’s discussion: Wells’s utopia required “a major cognitive and affective reorientation,” and although his notion of humanity comprised “fluid individuals, not homogeneous groups that could be ranked and compared,” we nonetheless see Wells differentiating humans categorically based on their pliability to such “reorientation” (180). An even clearer verdict would have been welcome as to how Wells’s eugenic and imperial commitments, despite his “rejection of racial theorizing,” wrought a “racialized picture of the New Republic,” and what this meant for the limits of Wells’s “putative antiracism” (184).

The second half of the book explores the Angloworld as constructed in four distinct contemporary registers: the nascent genre of science fiction, visions of “isopolitan” citizenship, racial utopian schemes for the abolition of war, and, finally, anticolonial inversions of time and history that challenged the racist mainstream of Anglo-America. Among the book’s key interventions, Bell’s rubric of turn-of-the century British arguments over citizenship as a modification or replacement for subjecthood stands out, helpfully distilling the variety of legal and moral positions (many woven into his two previous books) and disentangling the “racial-isopolitan” model of citizenship that was so fundamental to the movement for Anglo-American union (256-7). Some readers may even find it helpful to start with Chapter 6, to set Carnegie, Stead, and Wells in context and sharper contrast with more familiar constitutional and imperial thinkers such as James Bryce, A. V. Dicey, and E.A. Freeman. Here, the promised “boldness” of the former group starts to sink in (259-300).

Rich in its excavation of printed primary sources and several personal archives, Dreamworlds casts the discourse of Anglo-America in an original and critical light, making it essential reading for historians and scholars of politics who are working on modern Britain, America, race, and empire. The structuring motifs of the book should serve as springboards for further research and reflection. One lingering issue is that of Anglo-American union or, more significantly, “reunion.” (esp. 42-99).  Dreamworlds sifts competing cultural, institutional, and constitutional visions, but does not much plumb the deep contemporary resonance and chilling moral implications of reunion as a form of stagecraft and moral encoding for white supremacy in the decades after the American Civil War. There is a good deal to go on from the U.S. side: as David Blight has shown, the “Lost Cause” myth was hardly a problem exclusive to the U.S. South.[5] The heroic narrative of a noble Confederacy that fought for honor and tradition came to dominate American historical memory, erasing racial slavery’s place as root cause of the Civil War and further enabling fantasies of the United States as the paragon of twentieth-century white world order.[6] Further studies might look at how the ghosts of Appomattox, broadly conceived, went on to haunt Anglo-American political vocabularies and reactions to the Boer War and reconstruction in Southern Africa, and at imperial reunion as a factor in the cult of “whiteness” that emerged during Australian federation and in the resolution of the Venezuelan Crisis (an event which Bell does repeatedly address).[7]

These problems beg consideration, correspondingly, as historians rethink the trajectories of Britain and empire. Dreamworlds sees clearly the racist register in which Anglo-American (re)unionists were working. Its concluding discussion of the American scholar, journalist, and campaigner W. E. B. Du Bois and Jamaican pan-Africanist Theophilus Scholes puts legacies of slavery and exclusion, and the dynamics of “furious disillusion” (381, 388) at the forefront of challenges to white supremacy. Dreamworlds may remain light-touch in addressing the problem of nineteenth-century U.S. settler colonial empire, emphasizing instead attitudes toward overseas or extraterritorial empire, but this fact only drives home the converse need for scholars of the United State to engage also with now longstanding debates over the nature and ethics of the “British World” as a field of enquiry.[8] Bringing subfields into conversation, we might better understand the ways in which notions of reconciliation and regeneration, of sectional development, and of self-government, made it possible for late Victorians and Edwardians to discern supposedly meaningful historical-racial trajectories, erase the radicalism of the American Revolution, and fancy their fractured and deeply iniquitous imperium as (mostly) compatible with that of the United States.

The book paves the way for studies that could shed further light on major challenges to Anglo-American visions of empire or hegemony, and Dreamworlds correctly situates itself in relation to these topics.[9] If the book does sometimes too good a job of inhabiting the terms on which its players insisted—a monolithic “America,” “Anglo-America,” “Anglo-Saxondom”—it balances them with powerful insistence that all were, in the end, phantasms and willful visions that nonetheless entailed grim legacies. The motif of dreaming perturbs and animates. Who gets to dream? Whose dreams matter? These questions linger beneath the text and beg cross-referencing with recent work on psychology and empire revealing how the science of the human mind exposed irreconcilable differences come the twentieth century between universalist-pluralist and authoritarian-hierarchical models of imperial rule.[10] In addition to illuminating the lines of research above, Dreamworlds is an invaluable resource for navigating the eerie garden of namesakes and stone monuments that white supremacy still tends, and for contemplating the self, conscious or otherwise, as the product of dueling imperial fantasies and as the agent of those fantasies’ rejection.


In a 2002 article entitled “Empires, Exceptions, and Anglo-Saxons: Race and Rule between the British and United States Empires, 1880–1910,” historian Paul Kramer examined how ideas of Anglo-American racial unity were employed to justify U.S. overseas imperial expansion in the era of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. In his focus on the uses of “Anglo-Saxonism” in debates between “imperialist” and “anti-imperialist” camps in the United States, Kramer brushed past the conceptual substance of Anglo-Saxonist thought. Indeed, he described the discourse as a whole as “an echoing cavern of banalities out of which even a well-lit historian might never emerge.”[11] In Dreamworlds of Race, Duncan Bell spelunks into the cavern—and emerges with essential insights into the contours and significance of arguments that “Anglo-Americans” in the United States, Britain, and the settler colonies shared a common racial “destiny” around the turn of the twentieth century. Through nuanced, compelling accounts of the racial thought of four individuals—industrialist Andrew Carnegie, arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes, journalist and editor W. T. Stead, and socialist writer H. G. Wells—as well as several broader themes in the “utopian” discourse of Anglo-America, he reveals that racial fantasies were at the heart of Anglophone international thought. These fantasies animated visions not only of empire, moreover, but of democracy, technology, citizenship, and peace.

A central achievement of Dreamworlds of Race, and of Bell’s entire “loose trilogy” on the “metropolitan settler imaginary,” is its articulation of a strong central argument that organizes the author’s careful parsing of complex texts and tangled discourses (3).[12] Bell demonstrates powerfully that the shared dream of perpetual global supremacy of the “English race” drove the outpouring of energy into projects of Anglo-American unification in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (6). A dizzying array of institutional proposals, from arbitration treaties to imperial federalism to the outright incorporation of Britain into the United States, appear in Bell’s book. Rarely did Bell’s major figures, much less the dozens of other thinkers, politicians, poets, and novelists who feature, agree on how, exactly, Anglo-American unity should or would be achieved. Bell examines these figures’ ideas about constitutional change, institutional design, and alliance formation in detail. But analysis of the specifics of their proposals is rightly subordinated to an illustration of the potency and prominence of Anglo-American racial utopianism in the political thought of the period.

Bell’s chapter on “isopolitan citizenship and patriotism” exemplifies the strengths of this approach. A rethinking of the category of citizenship—taking into account racial belonging, British imperial subjecthood, and the potential for Anglo-American geopolitical rapprochement—featured prominently in what Bell terms the discourse of “Anglotopia” (18). Synthesizing a wide range of proposals for the modification of (especially) British citizenship rules, Bell usefully distinguishes various models of political belonging within the empire. Many of these proposals called for the use of racial criteria to provide fuller forms of citizenship for some British subjects, especially those in the “white” settler colonies and former colonies like the United States. The most extreme proposals for what he calls “racial-isopolitan citizenship” would have set up an explicitly racialized system of reciprocal citizenship arrangements between the United States and the British Empire—though here, as elsewhere, institutional visions varied (259). The utter lack of concern of many of the book’s protagonists with political realism and strategy comes through clearly in this discussion. One striking example comes in the writings of Albert Venn Dicey, a prominent legal scholar and one of the most well-respected advocates of this form of “racial-isopolitan citizenship.” Dicey, Bell reports, not only supported a system of reciprocal citizenship between the British Empire and the United States, but believed such a system could be implemented with relatively little friction. Because of the “accumulated historical experience of the Anglo-Saxons,” this drastic remaking of citizenship rules would “require no great constitutional upheaval, only the passing of an Act of Parliament and an Act of Congress” (265). Even when the institutional projects Bell outlines seem outlandish, the pervasiveness of the “Anglotopian” racial imaginary in arguments about the most fundamental questions of politics is striking.

Bell’s exemplary intellectual history nonetheless leaves some crucial questions unaddressed. While asserting that the growth of the fin de siècle Anglo-American utopian discourse was “overdetermined, with multiple tributaries feeding the stream,” Bell spends very little time analyzing what these “tributaries” may have been (8). It is no doubt accurate to say that the emergence of “Anglotopian” thought had multiple causes, but Bell’s decision to leave all causal questions to the side leads him to overlook the importance of challenges to the authority and coherence of whiteness in the period he analyzes. Struggles over the boundaries of whiteness, debates about the relation between “Anglo-Saxons” and other European peoples, and the actions of anti-imperial and anti-racist movements play little to no role in Bell’s story. But the effort to consolidate “Anglo-Saxon” power on the world stage operated in tandem and in tension with such competing forces. The political conditions Bell does mention—the emergence of Germany as a great power, the threats posed by France and Russia to British imperial dominance, and the rise of the United States—constituted an important geopolitical context for the rise of Anglo-American utopian discourse, but they are oddly disconnected from the racial anxieties that were pervasive among the white elites who constitute his key subjects (8). On the American side, these anxieties were provoked by accelerating immigration from East Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as the not-too-distant memory of a brief period of Black political power in the South during Reconstruction. Together, these developments posed a substantial challenge to “Anglo-Saxon” control over the United States polity. They represent two important “tributaries” feeding the “stream” of Anglo-American utopian dreams.

Both factors relate to Bell’s conceptualization of “race” itself. Bell provides a thoughtful consideration of the “elusive nature of racial vocabulary” in this period (27). His discussion of how Late Victorian Anglo-American thinkers viewed race as a “biocultural assemblage” cuts through the oft-repeated, but ultimately unhelpful, dichotomy between biological and cultural theories of race (28). This “assemblage” was constructed primarily out of language, law, and technology. Bell illustrates the key role of the English language and the common law tradition in the imaginations of his protagonists, and he emphasizes that notions of differential technological capacity among the “races” played an important role in both the political thinking and the speculative fiction of the era. This point goes well beyond a recapitulation of the idea that “machines” were seen “as the measure of men” in much imperial discourse.[13] Bell’s attentiveness to the techno-scientific characteristics of racism undergirds a sophisticated analysis of the interplay between the development of new material infrastructures—especially of trans-oceanic communications and transport—and the emergence of dreams of Anglo-American racial supremacy.

Despite this nuanced understanding of the material and ideological components of Anglo-American racism, Bell downplays the conflicts that roiled the politics of whiteness in this period, especially in relation to U.S. immigration debates. A policy of active encouragement of European immigration throughout the nineteenth century had enabled the massive growth of the American settler empire and established a permeable boundary of “Anglo-Saxon” whiteness. But the circumstances of the late nineteenth century seemed to threaten both foundational elements of American “settler freedom.”[14] The much-lamented “closing of the frontier” was linked to a series of controversies over immigration, the extent of whiteness, and where the limits of Anglo-Saxonism would be drawn.[15] “An important implication of the biocultural understanding of race,” Bell claims, “was that all whites could in principle be transmuted into Anglo-Saxons through a combination of acculturation and work on the self” (34). But could they? In the United States at least, this proposition was more controversial than Bell’s assertion would suggest, especially in the very period of “Anglotopian” enthusiasm that is his focus. While Bell acknowledges that “fears about racial contamination catalyzed efforts to limit, even eliminate, immigration from East Asia as well as Southern and Eastern Europe,” he does not analyze how immigration, and, more specifically, racist fears that targeted immigrants, helped to catalyze the broader discourse of Anglo-America itself (253).

As political scientist Jessica Blatt has shown, the need to construct theories of the state and of American constitutionalism that would justify immigration restriction and deportation was a central concern for some figures on the peripheries of Bell’s narrative, such as historian and political scientist John W. Burgess and his student Richmond Mayo-Smith.[16] The journalist and longtime editor of The Nation E. L. Godkin, who makes a brief appearance in Bell’s work as a critic of popular imperialist sentiment, held similar views, as he argued for a complete halt of migration from Southern and Eastern Europe.[17] These links suggest that the idea of a specifically Anglo-American whiteness was a boundary-making effort as much as it was a worldmaking one. It not only facilitated transnational cooperation and global visions but marked out an exclusive sphere of whiteness which even some Europeans could not access.

One of Bell’s most fascinating interventions is his recasting of the history of ideas of global government and perpetual peace. For all four of Bell’s primary figures, Anglo-American racial unity represented an intermediate achievement, a stepping-stone toward the abolition of war and some form of universal polity. This argument, on its own, represents a signal contribution to the history of international thought. Bell demonstrates that future accounts of universal peace and world government must reckon with the racialized histories of these ideas. He further emphasizes that this intermediate stage of Anglo-American unity was figured as a reunion. The emplotment of a future characterized by prospective Anglo-American polities and alliances, and eventual arrangements for global governance and the abolition of armed conflict, also involved “remapping key historical episodes, and especially the American War of Independence and Civil War” (56). This remapping could take multiple forms. Cecil Rhodes, for example, viewed the American Revolution as a tragedy. W. T. Stead and British statesman Arthur Balfour imagined the world as if it had never happened, “outlin[ing] a counterfactual history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in which judicious statesmanship prevented the Revolution, leaving the British Empire intact” (128). Other Anglo-American advocates, though, presented the Revolution as “a ‘necessary condition’ for successful racial development and possible future union” (57). In these accounts, “the Revolutionaries were celebrated. The commonality of political and legal institutions was reiterated” (57).

This analysis of “Anglotopia” as a discourse of reunion suggests another potential “tributary” feeding into Bell’s story: the struggles over Reconstruction and its violent overthrow. David Blight has argued that the reconciliation between white Americans across the sectional divide was both precondition and progenitor of extra-continental U.S. imperial expansion in the 1890s.[18] Natalie Ring, meanwhile, has illustrated that U.S. reformers viewed the “problem South” as in need of imperial uplift, envisioning the region along a continuum of the United States’ own overseas colonies and European colonial territories.[19] How did the fate of this region—and, for that matter, “problem regions” of Britain—figure in the projects of Anglo-Saxon worldmaking that Bell traces? How were Reconstruction and Redemption emplotted in his key figures’ narratives of past and future racial destiny? These questions, like those related to immigration, point to several ways that Bell’s analysis might be enriched through closer attention to political conflicts over the boundaries of the “Anglo” and the “American” themselves. Placing a spotlight on these conflicts might also establish a clearer linkage between the alternative, “Afro-modern” futures imagined by African American scholar and activist W.E.B. Du Bois and Jamaican thinker T. E. S. Scholes, which Bell canvasses in the book’s conclusion, and the political movements for pan-Africanism and Black liberation in which they participated (373).

In exploring the “cavern” of Anglo-American utopian discourse in the decades before the First World War, Duncan Bell has revealed the ubiquity of this discourse in transatlantic debates about democracy and empire, science and technology, war and peace. How and why this “Anglotopian” racial imaginary emerged when it did, and how it intersected with more quotidian struggles, remain important questions for scholars to address.


In an era of constant technological innovations and changing sociopolitical order, the ability to imagine a new political order is more important than ever. What intellectuals, politicians, and opinion-makers in a place of wealth and power think and advocate signals the direction of a future polity that may impact not only their societies but also the entire world.

Duncan Bell’s Dreamworlds of Race explores the “boldest arguments” of the Anglo-American utopian dream as a pivotal political discourse that has made a lasting impact on the modern intellectual history of the world order (4). The debate over Anglo-America emerged in the late nineteenth century because those who occupied influential positions were concerned about the future form of the world’s political order. The main protagonists of this book are Andrew Carnegie, the American multimillionaire and philanthropist, W.T. Stead, the British journalist and the founder of a new journal, the Review of Reviews, Cecil J. Rhodes, the British-born imperialist statesman who became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (1890–1896), and H.G. Wells, the English social critic and a pioneer of science fiction. In writing about these influential fin-de-siècle advocates of Anglo-American integration in a broad context of social and political thought, Bell uncovers how their utopian ideas were deeply associated with their shared racial identity that aspired to establish Anglo-American racial domination.

Bell contends that the Anglo-American unionist dreams should be read as a racial discourse. The racial identity of Anglo-Americans or “Anglo-Saxons” is “defined by a vague admixture of mythology, historical experience, shared values, institutions, language, religious commitments, and cultural symbolism, all circumscribed (but not fully specified) by whiteness” (28). His biocultural definition of race articulates the distinctiveness of the Anglo-American racial identity that should not be reduced to white supremacism in general. The self-conceptualization of the Anglo-American intellectuals is characterized as expansive and inclusive so that “all whites could in principle be transmuted into Anglo-Saxons” (34). What made the dreams of Anglo-American ascendancy and domination possible was the international positioning of Britain, a global empire, and the United States, an emerging world power, both of which sat comfortably at the frontline of technoscientific progress.

With the emergence of the United States as a formidable world power while the British Empire was still intact in the late nineteenth century, American and British thinkers disagreed over the destiny of the British Empire, the definition of the “English-speaking people” or the “English race,” the extent of the institutionalization of the Anglo-American unification, and the future leadership in the world. However, the idea of racial unity brought them together to lead an “era of perpetual peace and global justice” (2). The ideological architecture of those unionists who trusted the superior quality of the English race among others justified a global racial hierarchy in their minds.

In the first half of the book that examines a wide range of writings by high-profile, leading unionists such as Carnegie and Rhodes, Bell succeeds not just in outlining the modality of their utopian racism but also in demonstrating the mutual exchanges of ideas and synergetic effects among them. Across the Atlantic Ocean, a body of ideas and theories of race and order traveled and gained an epochal influence in the long run. This process importantly contributed to the spreading of racial perspectives across the ocean. While it is easy to say with hindsight how naïve and simplistic their imaginations were, a detailed analysis of those Anglo-American thinkers explains why these elites developed their racialized visions and how their visions were modified in accordance with sociopolitical changes over time.

The second half of the book is thematically organized to elucidate the distinctive nature of the Anglo-American racial unionism. The key themes include racial utopianism (chapter 5), citizenship (chapter 6), and perpetual peace (chapter 7). Science fiction in the Anglo-American world, including British settler colonies, laid down the imaginaries of racial utopian salvation and celebration. As a preferable or essential concept for the integration of Anglo-American societies, the idea of isopolity or “common citizenship” emerged in a way that transformed the narrow understanding of patriotism to racial unionism (259-261). On questions about war and peace that Western thinkers attempted to answer over centuries, unionist thinkers such as Stead, Carnegie, and Wells regarded the unification of Britain and the United States as a beacon of hope; the pathway to a world-state and global peace. Bell’s scrutiny of a broad range of social and political thought on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond explains why the Anglo-American alliance came to be seen as a solution to the disorder and instability in the late-nineteenth century.

While Dreamworlds of Race offers the interesting insights mentioned above, what makes this book inspiring and outstanding is Bell’s final discussion on “steampunk” neo-Victorian speculative fictions and Afro-modern perspectives. The study of British-American intellectual history cannot be complete without critiques and self-reflective observations. Analyzing these fictions and writings is an act of confronting the imperial legacies and racial unionist imaginaries. Bell gives a fresh insight into the specific spatiotemporal dimensions of the Anglo-American racial discourse.

In his account, “steampunk” fictions in the late twentieth century “offer the possibility of rethinking time and history, tracing alternative paths through the modern world and into the present” (365). Travelling back in time to explore an alternative route for world history makes it possible to imagine the paths that were not taken. For those who never considered the role of science fiction in political theory, Bell’s reading offers a pioneering method to identify the historical temporality of the Anglo-American utopia and contest its linear historical and imperial perspectives that essentialize the dominance and superiority of one specific race.

Bell then turns to the political writings of Afro-modern thinkers such as W.E.B. DuBois and Theophilus Scholes. These pan-African thinkers brought into question the specific white racial discourse that essentializes the racial supremacy in the linear idea of historical progress. Exploring their anti-racial, anti-imperialist perspective is timely and much needed given the current renewed interest in the historical legacy of systemic violence against black people due to the recent Black Lives Matter movement.[20]

Bell’s reading of DuBois and Scholes brings the question of temporality to the fore. He aptly points out that their use of the historical past in their imaginative futures has an alternative historical temporality. Recognizing this counter-temporality helps to articulate the flaws in the intellectual foundations of Anglo-American futuristic imagination and speculative world visions. Near the end of his book, Bell draws our attention to the “vital importance of history in shaping visions of a world to come” (394). While critical approaches to temporality and the conceptions of time have developed mostly in humanities, Bell uses the temporal logics to challenge the Anglo-American racial dreams. The theme linking time and race resonates with the research agenda of Matthew Houdek and Kendall R. Phillips’s excellent special issue of Women's Studies in Communication, “Rhetoric and the Temporal Turn: Race, Gender, Temporalities,” which develops “ways of thinking about temporality as invested with logics of colonialism, patriarchy, racism, anti-blackness, and other frames of oppression.”[21] Rethinking temporality in relation to race provides profound insights for the questions of how to confront past, present and future injustices and what kind of future path should be drawn for an alternative form of justice.

However, juxtaposing Afro-modernism with Anglo-American racial dreams does not fully advance the further thinking of spatial politics in international relations. While this book takes both spatial and temporal dimensions of racial intercontinental utopia seriously, DuBois and Scholes are read mainly to problematize the historical temporality of white supremacism: they do not provide an alternative conception of space that goes far beyond the Anglo-American spatial imaginaries. Part of the reason, as Bell also mentions, is that the global communication network of black intellectuals and activists was “fragile” (373) and mostly focused on racial emancipation and resistance instead of the spatial reconfiguration of the world.

Alternative utopian imaginaries, together with constructive efforts to reorganize spatial divides based on past, sometimes invented, memories for the future world order can also be found in other pan-ideologies such as Pan-Asianism and Pan-Islamism.[22] Because some areas in Asia and the Middle East were not fully territorialized or controlled by Western powers, even more radical spatial imaginaries than the claim of racial unification have evolved. Examining these non-Western, non-English-speaking challengers to the West-centric world order can pose a critical question not only on the spatiotemporal assumptions of Anglo-American racial dreams but also on the counter-Western spatiotemporal formation that contributed to another form of violence and oppression, as in the case of Japanese pan-Asianism.[23] In this sense, those intellectual histories in non-English-speaking countries give an essential reference that should not be missed. The conclusion of this book should not be the end but the beginning of the exploration of other dreams in different times and spaces.

Furthermore, exploring the current geopolitical imagination may also be an effective way to develop Bell’s theme of the spatiotemporal dimensions of world politics. As he wrote with Vucetic about the emergence of CANZUK (the political organization involving Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom) as a post-Brexit imaginary, historical legacy is a strong pull to bring distant places together and open a new geographical landscape.[24] This process of thinking is not so different from what can be found in the current Turkish neo-Ottomanism[25] and China’s Silk Roads diplomacy.[26] Those who pay attention to the contemporary politics of memory and space may find Bell’s argument interesting and relevant.

A final thought on Dreamworlds of Race is how to do justice to the richness of intellectual political thought in our global era. A call for overcoming the West-centric perspective is long overdue in contemporary political theory. To be sure, a vast array of postcolonial, post-positivist studies has flourished since the 1978 publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism.[27] Through a perspective drawn from societies outside ‘civilized’ Europe, this body of literature contributes to exposing the problems of Western liberalism and modernity. But the bifurcation between the West and non-West is a stumbling block to the advancement of the study of political theory and intellectual history in a global era. To overcome this issue, some focus on non-Western experiences and “translation” of Western modernity to “provincialize” Europe.[28] Others cultivate a new field of comparative political theory[29] or search for a proper approach to develop more global social sciences and humanities.[30] Although Bell does not intend to join those ventures in his book, he signals the importance of examining political thought and practice in different times and spaces and reconsidering what has been known and understood in a specific time and space.

Dreamworlds of Race deserves to be read not only by intellectual historians but also by those who are interested in the role of ideas in world politics. While focusing on the Anglo-American racial vision of world order, this book stimulates our thinking of imaginaries in a broader sociopolitical context. Reading this book in the early part of the twenty-first century also makes us wonder what dreams are to be crafted and which dream will make a difference in a future world polity.



In his ambitious and wide-ranging work, Duncan Bell seeks to examine the political thought behind the proponents of Anglo-American reunion at the turn of the twentieth century. Dreamworlds of Race sits as the final work in a broad trilogy of intellectual histories on the “metropolitan settler imagery” (3). In this book he turns his focus to the second of the two “axes of the Angloworld” – Anglo-America – with the other being the British settler colonial empire, which was examined in his first book, The Idea of Greater Britain (1).[31] Bell’s second book, Reordering the World, provides an interesting conceptual bridge between these two works, exploring the relationship between liberalism and empire.[32] With Dreamworlds of Race, Bell seeks to remedy the absence of intellectual history in the growing historiography on Anglo-American transnational and transimperial connections.[33] In doing so, he has written an engaging and thorough work that explores the complexities and contradictions of nineteenth-century ideas of global whiteness.

Dreamworlds of Race focusses primarily on four utopian thinkers whom Bell identifies as the pre-eminent visionaries of Anglo-America: industrial magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, journalist W.T. Stead, imperialist Cecil Rhodes, and writer H.G. Wells. The book is roughly split into two halves, with the first focussing on the various shifting designs for reunion espoused by each of these thinkers. Not only does Bell provide compelling intellectual portraits of Carnegie, Stead, Rhodes, and Wells, but he skillfully pushes at the tensions in each of their thought, while demonstrating how their ideas were received and how such ideas travelled across borders. All four are placed in the wider context of contemporary debates on transatlantic relations, as Bell examines both the underlying influences upon their writings as well as how these were received. An impressive supporting cast of recurring figures complements Bell’s core of utopians – ranging from British thinkers James Bryce and Edward Freeman to American social gospelers Josiah Strong and Lyman Abbott. In the second half, Bell presents thematic discussions of a wide array of policies and sources which represent the various theatres of the Anglo-American imagination – with chapters focusing on science fiction, plans for isopolitan (or common) citizenship, and visions of perpetual peace. As such, a work which could have been an insular look at four specific individuals becomes a rich tapestry of changing ideas about whiteness, empire and Anglo-American relations. Bell’s conclusion, rather than simply summarizing his argument, looks at those who sought to pull away the mask of Anglo-American providentialism to critique the white supremacist ideas implicit within it. As such, the book’s final pages are dedicated to an exploration of the views of sociologist and historian W.E.B. Du Bois and pan-Africanist physician and missionary T.E.S. Scholes.

Bell’s choice of utopian thinkers as an analytical category is a rewarding one. If we were to take Anglo-America as an “imagined community,” then Bell successfully examines the imaginations that were the primary drivers of this transnational ideal.[34] In Bell’s words, “utopias are engines of world-making, a nowhere that signals the possible future instantiation of a somewhere” (18). Therefore, Bell makes a concerted effort to differentiate his study of utopianism, as well as his utopian thinkers, from a thinly defined idealism, which he terms “anthropic” utopianism (22-23). Instead, these thinkers envisioned the clear overhaul of a specific aspect of society and, therefore, they dealt in what he terms “programmatic utopianism” (23). This is openly not a story of statesmen but of those who were “true believers in racial kinship” (14). He thus excludes from his study those who were enthusiastic about the prospects of reunion, but who, due to the contingencies of their political careers, leant increasingly on the domestic politics of nationalism (for instance, President Theodore Roosevelt, or British statesmen Joseph Chamberlain, or Arthur Balfour). In focusing on the so-called dreamers of the Angloworld, Bell is able to examine these ideas in their absolute forms and therefore is also able to point to the clear tensions within these ideas. Central to Bell’s analysis is his presentation of nineteenth-century racial ideology as being a “biocultural assemblage,” where race was cast in both cultural and biological terms that were intertwined and mutually reinforcing, rather than being separate, discrete concepts (25). The cultural components of this understanding were shifting and malleable (comprising of ideas of history, language, and law). However, they were encased in the hard shell of notions of biological difference. In Bell’s words, “debates over mutability almost always took place within the horizon of whiteness” (27).

A clear strength is Bell’s discussion of the cultural construction of white identity by these utopian thinkers, which is on display throughout this work. In exploring ideas of history, law, citizenship, and language he carefully unpicks the nineteenth century mythology of civilisation that was core to the Angloworld’s self-image and presents it as being bounded by the colour line (29). One example is the differentiation of the ethnologically defined Anglo-Saxons and the more porous notion of a global English-speaking peoples which Bell clearly elucidates via an illuminating passage on Carnegie’s efforts for language reform (54-55). For a figure such as Carnegie, who funded the establishment of the Simplified Spelling Board, language was the means by which one might assimilate into American society – transitioning from the status of (white European) immigrant to an American citizen.[35] Thus, rather than focussing on the ethnological terminology Anglo-Saxon, figures often chose to speak of an English-speaking people for whom language was the means of inclusion.

On the other hand, it seems notable that these figures hardly engaged in a deep discussion of the American South and thus the legal apparatus of the colour line. The book’s discussion of segregation is largely explored via the writings of Du Bois and Scholes in Bell’s examination of their critique of Anglo-America. However, there seems to be an unhighlighted division among these thinkers over what Stead called the “the most difficult ingredient in the [American] crucible.”[36] As Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds have shown, there was a live discussion in the writings of figures such as James Bryce, who sought to determine the parallels between the American South and South Africa in highlighting his own fears of a multiracial democracy.[37] For some of Bell’s subjects one might infer their views segregation. Bell starkly situates Wells’s eugenicist beliefs within his utopianism (159); and Rhodes’s views on race and suffrage in South Africa are well-known. However, it seems worthy of note that Carnegie and Stead emerge here as being relatively quiet on the place of African Americans in their utopian racial dreamworld. The division between these two utopian visions warrants further investigation.

Bell’s penultimate chapter breaks interesting new ground on the nineteenth century conceptualisation of peace, as he seeks to present utopian plans for the abolition of war as being “more complex and more problematic” than a focus on canonical figures such as philosophers Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant might allow (303). Peace as both an idea and as an organising feature for institutions is frequently noted by historians of nineteenth-century international law and international relations.[38] However, Bell examines the wide variety of arguments made in support of achieving a peaceful world system. In doing so, he outlines how certain elements of these arguments were co-opted into “the core of the Anglo-racial dreamworld” (304). These arguments ran through both sides of the “biocultural assemblage” of white identity. Some espoused, as Stead did, that universal peace would be the product of expanding democratic empires (in what Bell terms the “democratic empires thesis,” (323-330). However, this was also couched in explicitly racial terms, with figures such as Carnegie and Stead claiming that world peace was contingent on the reunion of the Anglo-American race.

For historians of the nineteenth-century United States, the conceptualisation of peace as an idea that was intertwined with notions of whiteness is a powerful one; it does much to explain the idiosyncratic conduct of peace societies as well as the appropriation of the language of peace by imperialists. The latter is particularly notable in the context of American arguments for empire. As Louis Pérez has demonstrated, the American justification for maintaining Cuba as a quasi-protectorate after the Spanish-American War lay in the creative reinterpretation of the term “pacification.”[39] Similarly, Paul Kramer has shown how judgements over Filipino conduct in war mapped onto American perceptions of their civilisation during the Philippine-American War.[40] This also explains the lackluster activism of certain peace societies to instances of imperial warfare – for instance, the caution of the American Peace Society during debates over the intervention in Cuba in 1898.[41]

The integration of this racialised and utopian definition of peace into the study of the wider scene of peace activism warrants further scholarship. Bell presents a nuanced picture of how Carnegie’s various peace initiatives were received by figures such as Roosevelt and historian Andrew Dickson White (335-338). However, the reception and circulation of these ideas was far wider than Bell implies. As has been demonstrated by Ian Tyrrell and Harriet Hyman Alonso, women’s activism was a fundamental part of the peace movement and arbitration as an issue was frequently couched in gendered terms.[42] Therefore, the arguments made by figures such Carnegie and Stead were articulated in a discourse that was (at least in part) framed by gendered assumptions about peace and war. Broadly speaking, these activists worked within a transnational ecosystem of reform networks – most notably focussing on temperance, missionary work, and suffrage – and saw their advocacy of peace as not being contingent on Anglo-American reunion. Dreamworlds of Race therefore opens up new avenues for research on both the reception of these ideas among organisations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), as well as research which applies Bell’s framework of racial utopianism to these transnational networks of reform.

Dreamworlds of Race remains an incredibly thought-provoking work which is of great value to scholars of race and empire at the turn of the twentieth century. It deepens our conceptual understanding of Anglo-American relations and provides rich detail as to how thinkers of the late Victorian era conceptualised white identity.



I would like to start by thanking Amanda Behm, Sam Klug, Ryoko Nakano, and Neil Suchak for participating in this Roundtable, George Giannakopoulos for organizing the discussion, and George and Marc-William Palen for writing the introduction. It is an honour to have such insightful scholars engage with my work, and I am delighted that they all found something of value in Dreamworlds of Race. I’ll reply to each commentator in turn.

After providing an excellent summary of key themes in the book, Behm identifies some topics that she thinks could have been developed further. She is right to suggest that there is much more to be said about the history and politics of the American South. She calls attention to “the deep contemporary resonance and chilling moral implications of reunion as a form of stagecraft and moral encoding for white supremacy in the decades after the American Civil War.” The importance of the Civil War and its legacy, especially in the South, is also discussed by Klug and Suchak. Originally I had planned to include a full chapter about how narratives of key historical episodes – including the War of Independence and the Civil War – were reworked and woven through the Angloworld debates, but I ran out of energy and time. Material on historical narratives, much abbreviated, is scattered across different chapters. Some ended up in my discussion of how American “Teutonist” historians such as James Hosmer and John Fiske (re)wrote American history (63-5), some ended up in a later section on political symbolism and racial mythscapes (290-300), while in the Conclusion I address how Afro-modern thinkers presented competing accounts of history and destiny to unsettle complacent teleological visions of white supremacy (373-94). But this coverage is not systematic, let alone exhaustive, and there are notable gaps, the Civil War and its tentacular legacies chief among them. Behm lays out a roadmap for possible research. I hope that the framework and some of the key concepts that I employ – racial utopianism, race as biocultural assemblage, the idea of a cyborg imperium, the racial peace thesis, communal mythscapes, isopolitan citizenship and race patriotism, etc. – prove of some use in navigating it.

Behm suggests that there is a “puzzle” or “tension” in my discussion of H. G. Wells. How could he explicitly reject “racial or national categories” while offering a racialized account of the Angloworld? My short answer is that I think the tension is to be found in Wells’s own writings. Though a highly creative thinker, Wells was not a rigorous or consistent one. I argue that he didn’t reject racial or national categories per se but rather the prevailing theories used to identity racial essences and justify racial hierarchies. He had two main targets: misapplied Darwinian arguments (“sham-science”) and accounts of racial identity derived from philology (“oil-lamp anthropology”).[43] In contrast, Wells explicitly grounded his vision of an emergent Angloworld “New Republican” polity on cultural-linguistic foundations. As he put it in Mankind in the Making (1903), the “new State,” would be a “great confederation” of “republican communities” all “speaking a common language, possessing a common living body of literature and a common scientific and, in its higher stages at least, a common education organisation.”[44] This was the totality of the “English-speaking people.” Yet I also argue that even as Wells rejected the dominant racial theories, his writings on the New Republic reiterated a racialized geopolitical vision. He drew from the same catalogue of images, terminology, categories and concepts as the other advocates of union. For example, his tendency to classify polities as “white,” “yellow,” and “black” highlighted an inability to escape the dominant interpretive frameworks shaping perceptions of the world.[45] Wells also maintained that the New Republic would be an imperial power, pursuing the civilizing mission across the existing British empire, as well as much of the Caribbean, the Americas, the Pacific, and the “larger part of black Africa.”[46] As such, it was a variant of the liberal imperial vision of world order, predicated on the existence of a global hierarchy of peoples. This duality – between his ostensible rejection of race as an animating factor in world politics and his employment of racialized frameworks – is what I was aiming to capture.

To complicate matters, Wells’s account of both race and eugenics changed substantively across the period I discuss. (It changed again in the interwar period). In Anticipations (1901), the earliest and most detailed account of the New Republic, his critique of racial theorising was relatively muted, and the closing chapters were studded with appalling passages endorsing a form of exterminatory eugenic politics. The hard-headed New Republican citizens of the future, he wrote, would “have little pity and less benevolence” for the “inefficient” members of humanity. They would have to “check the procreation of base and servile types,” even engaging in the “merciless obliteration of the weak.” While he was clear that “inefficiency” was not a function of racial identity – “inefficient” individuals could be found in all communities – it was clear from his analysis that he thought they were located disproportionately outside the Euro-American world.[47] During the next couple of years he dropped, toned down, or repudiated many of these arguments, though he remained committed to a more limited form of eugenics. In A Modern Utopia he lambasted “race prejudice” and “race mania,” and warned against the dangers of “Anglo-Saxonism.”[48] “I am convinced,” he wrote in The Independent (New York) in 1907, “that there is no more evil thing in this present world than Race Prejudice; none at all. I write deliberately – it is the worst single thing in life now.”[49] In Dreamworlds I suggest that the shift in his views can be explained, at least in part, by his increasing commitment to a version of philosophical pragmatism that was indebted principally to William James. Indeed one of the main points I want to make is that Wells should be seen as the most high-profile pragmatist political thinker in the early part of the twentieth century.[50] (This is a topic I intend to develop in future work). Wells argued that metaphysical nominalism entailed that collectives such as nations or races were illusory. Races were “no hard and fast things, no crowd of identically similar persons,” but instead “massed sub-races and tribes and families each after its kind unique, and these again are clusterings of still smaller uniques and so down to each several person.”[51] There were only individuals in the aggregate. However, Wells’s adumbration of this philosophical position did not mean that his writings on society and politics were free from racialized assumptions, concepts or terminology.

Behm is also right to suggest that more could be said about the prevalence of “dream” language at the time. I was hoping to find some connection between Freud’s work on dreams and its widespread use in Angloworld discourse, but I didn’t come across any compelling evidence.  The usage was overdetermined. The popularity of spiritualism was a notable vector (W. T. Stead was one of its leading popularisers, though his unwavering commitment to the cause also helped to undermine his credibility in the Edwardian years). The vocabularies employed in the emerging psychological sciences also likely played a role. But I think that the principal intellectual impetus for acknowledging the power of the imagination, and for invoking dreams in political argumentation, sprang from the burst of explicitly utopian writing that circulated widely in the Euro-American world between the 1880s and the First World War. “[S]ocial dreams are once more rife,” the British journalist G. W. Foote observed in 1886.[52] The popularity of this kind of literature – exemplified by the huge success of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1887) and William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890) – helped inspire and legitimate appeals to speculative thinking.

The status and role of utopian dreaming was discussed by many of the participants in the Angloworld debate. For some it was essential for challenging established norms and values, for others it was a hindrance to effective political action. The most ambitious unionists tended to adopt the former stance. As well as penning various utopian tales, Wells wrote frequently about how a social science dedicated to examining the future might function and on the role of utopian speculation within it.[53] Andrew Carnegie returned to the theme repeatedly. He replied to the accusation that his unionist schemes were utopian by arguing that social dreaming helped drive historical change: “we have had many prophetic voices, more than fulfilled, which were at the time of their inspired utterance much wilder than anything herein suggested. It may be all a dream but I am a dreamer of dreams. So be it” (42-44).[54] The charge of utopianism was also used to criticise the ambition of such plans. Responding to Carnegie, the British army officer and politician George Sydenham Clarke noted the prevalence of social dreaming and listed some of its best-known expressions. “It is an inevitable tendency of our age to seek solace in dreams,” he mused. The world was changing rapidly, prompting endless speculation about the future. “[W]hether we linger over an anticipatory retrospect with Mr. Bellamy, indulge in ‘a look ahead’ with Mr. Carnegie, or – far less profitably – attempt to peer across the ‘Borderland’ with Mr. Stead, the same human craving supplies the impulse and explains the fascination.”[55] But the impulse was misguided: while an appealing idea, Carnegie’s “dreamland” was unattainable. Clarke preferred a limited form of Anglo-American union grounded in racial solidarity and naval co-operation. G. K. Chesterton made a similar diagnostic point about the prevalence of utopian dreaming – naming Rhodes, Stead, and Wells among its proponents – in his satirical novel The Napoleon of Notting Hill.[56] Critics of race unionism also invoked the language of utopia. Frederic Harrison, a leading British positivist writer, complained that the “dream of welding into one the whole English-speaking people is a dangerous and retrograde Utopia, full of mischief and false pride of race.”[57] The language of dreams pervaded debate about the future of world order. I suggest that it is only by attending to the power of utopianism, and to the various roles it performed, that we can make sense of key features of political thinking at the time.

Klug focuses his attention on the social, political, and intellectual factors that helped to give rise to the Angloworld discourse, and the contested character of whiteness in the United States during the late nineteenth century. In particular, he emphasizes the importance of arguments over immigration, though he also makes a related point about the impact of the “problem South.” He is right to suggest that I do not dedicate much space to a systematic discussion of the “tributaries which fed the stream” – my intention was to focus on anatomizing the discourse rather than tracing its various sources. As Klug notes, I touch briefly on the subject in the Introduction, sketching some broad geopolitical trends that were key to framing the discourse and animating race unionists, including, from a British perspective at least, the increasing power of the United States, and the emergence of Germany and Russia as serious competitors. Elsewhere I have discussed the impact that the rise of democratic politics in Britain had on shaping anxieties about imperial decline and encouraging projects for imperial-racial union.[58] It is worth reiterating that (as Krug notes) the bulk of my analysis focuses on Britain, which was the main source of maximalist versions of Anglo-American unionism. I pay less attention to the political and intellectual dynamics at play in the United States. To put it another way, I do not regard Dreamworlds of Race as an exhaustive study of Anglo-Saxonism in general, let alone of white supremacism in all of its tension-ridden forms, but rather of visions of Anglo-American union, many of which (but certainly not all) drew heavily on Anglo-Saxonist arguments and most of which were white supremacist. I hope, though, that my account of the unionist debates can speak to scholars of those subjects.

I agree with Klug that immigration debates were vital in shaping white supremacism in the United States, and he is right that I could have said more about this subject. This is not to say that I ignore it. At various points I highlight the importance of “the racist debates over immigration controls that permeated political discussion in the Angloworld,” but I don’t analyse them at length (216). Rather, I discuss how proponents of Anglo-unionism engaged with immigration. While most of them regarded it as a pressing issue, they didn’t speak with one voice. Committed to a eugenic account of national and individual “efficiency,” Wells expressed nativist views about the threat posed to the United States by immigration from Central and Eastern Europe. Uneducated and easily manipulated by malign actors, these “inefficients” – “a practically illiterate industrial proletariat” – threatened social progress (191-92).[59] Carnegie was less concerned. He welcomed mass migration as an important feature of American life – it was, after all, a source of cheap labor - and pushed back against calls for legislative discrimination against immigrants.[60] For the Republican lawyer John Dos Passos, who was the son of a Portuguese immigrant, the Anglo-Saxons were constantly refreshed by emigrant Europeans, who he insisted could become (like he had) Anglo-Saxon through sustained work on the self. Such a transmutation was unavailable to non-Europeans or to African-Americans.[61] John Fiske, the popular historian and arch-Teutonist, was far more critical, and served as Honorary President of the Immigration Restriction League. Among the British Anglo-unionists, concerns about immigration into the British settler colonies, and in particular Australia, played a role. Both Dicey and Bryce, for example, ended up supporting strict restrictions on East Asian immigration into the colony (269-70).[62] White supremacism was sustained through the policing of borders, both imaginative and legal. Klug’s characterisation of the Angloworld project as both a “boundary-making” and a worldmaking one is apt.

I’m glad that Nakano enjoyed my discussion of steampunk fiction and Afro-modern alternatives to Anglotopia.  My intention was to finish the book with critiques of the positions I had surveyed in the preceding chapters. I did not want to give the white supremacists the final word. Nakano is correct that temporality is central to my interpretation of both movements, though I suggest that they differ significantly in how they frame it. The neo-Victorian steampunk fiction that I analyse – including John Crowley’s The Great Work of Time (1989) and William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine (1990) – rewrite the nineteenth century Angloworld by excising the United States from the picture, derailing its long-foretold rise to global geopolitical ascendency by fragmenting it and letting the British empire retain  primacy. This undercuts the historical teleology that underpinned much of the Angloworld discourse, but it is of course only a partial response for it leaves the “Anglo” in place. Neither empire nor white supremacism are challenged. The Afro-modern thinkers I explore offered a much more thoroughgoing critique (as does Afro-futurist speculative work).[63] I examine how they dismantled arguments about white racial supremacy, and in particular how they built a powerful counter-canon of historical writings that emphasized the importance of African and Asian peoples, among others, in global history.[64] Their accounts were intended to challenge the historical narratives used by white supremacists, including Anglo-unionists, to validate their political claims.

Nakano is also right to point out that I don’t explore other spatial imaginaries, such as those articulated in pan-Asian or pan-Islamic projects. In the Introduction I locate the Angloworld discourse in relation to this wider set of worldmaking endeavours. Observing that the organizing principles of global order were in flux as the twentieth century dawned, I put it in the following way: “The future spatial configuration of politics was deeply uncertain, provoking widespread debate and a stream of creative speculation about the contours of the world to come. Imperial and regional federations, the rapid multiplication of nation-states, even a universal polity, were considered feasible options. So too were massive associations built around racial or linguistic identity.” This included Pan-Africanism, Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, Pan-Latinism, and Pan-Slavism.[65] Thinkers around the world were grappling with, and seeking to imagine, new forms of political affiliation, legitimacy, and belonging. The Angloworld was at once continuous with, and substantively different from, these other projects. It was continuous with them in that its advocates sought to ground their visions of political association on racial foundations, and imagined forms of politics beyond existing configurations of empire, nation, and state. But it differed from them in terms of the geopolitical power that it presupposed and affirmed. It was intended to consolidate, indeed strengthen and extend, the domination of the Anglo powers, whereas most of the other visions, at least in part, sought to challenge or subvert this pattern of imperial order, even if they hoped  to replace it with their own alternative.

I can only echo Nakano’s point that it is through analysing these challenges to the “West-centric world order” that we can “pose a critical question not only on the spatiotemporal assumptions of Anglo-American racial dreams but also on the counter-Western spatiotemporal formation that contributed to another form of violence and oppression, as in the case of Japanese pan-Asianism.” And I also agree with her about the vital importance of the intersecting fields of global intellectual history and comparative political thought.[66] The growth of scholarship in these areas in recent years has been inspiring.

Like Klug, Suchak picks up the question of the American South. I agree with him that (for the most part) the figures I discuss at length “hardly engaged in a deep discussion of the American South and thus the legal apparatus of the colour line.” He is also right to suggest that there is an “unhighlighted division” among my cast over questions of segregation and the possibility  of  multiracial democracy (not least those prompted by comparisons between the American South and South Africa). This points to a disagreement – one of many – between advocates of Anglo-union. I concur about Cecil Rhodes: his appalling record as a legislator and businessman, as well as the content of his writings, is clear evidence of his fervent racism. While Carnegie was critical of the bigoted treatment of African-Americans, and supported limited social and political reforms to address it, he was no racial egalitarian. An admirer of Booker T. Washington, he supported limits to the franchise based on educational qualifications.[67] He did not regard African-Americans as equal citizens in a democratic polity.

Wells professed a similar view.[68] In The Future in America he lamented the violent bigotry directed at African-Americans, especially in the southern states. He too was impressed by Washington, who managed to communicate the “monstrous injustice” while recognizing that “in our time and conditions it is not to be fought about.” In contrast, Wells observed that W. E. B. Du Bois, “the other great spokesman color has found in our time,” demanded that African-Americans be treated as equal citizens.[69] While Wells praised Washington as a “statesman,” and suggested that his approach to racial injustice – prioritising black economic self-sufficiency over social equality and full political participation – had a greater chance of success than Du Bois’s otherwise justified anger, he regarded Washington’s vision of racial co-existence as unrealistic because it presupposed much higher levels of education in the white population than were evident. Most white Americans were incapable of thinking rationally about race, preferring to trade in crude stereotypes.[70] Wells said similar things about British colonists. Settlers in the Cape, for example, displayed the same “dull prejudice.”[71] For Wells, in this as in much else, education was the key to social progress. His account provoked a book-length rebuttal, Through Afro-America: An English Reading of the Race Problem (1910), by the journalist William Archer.[72] Combining travelogue across the southern states, Cuba, and Jamaica, with potted sociopolitical analysis, Archer surveyed assorted plans for resolving the “race problem,” including those of Du Bois, Washington, the pragmatist philosopher Josiah Royce, and the Fabian imperial administrator Sydney Olivier. But he focused much of his fire on Wells.[73] Rejecting the suggestion that education was the key to establishing a flourishing multiracial society, he argued that racial animosity was an “an unalterable fact of white psychology.” It could not be changed. He defended a “separatist” agenda, proposing the creation of a new state for African-Americans within the Union. Wells, by contrast, had praised Olivier’s proposal to grant the “colored man a share in legislature and judicature under special conditions,” though he didn’t discuss what this would entail institutionally or how it could be achieved.[74]

I was glad to see that Suchak mentioned the role of Simplified Spelling in Dreamworlds. This was one of the more intriguing lines to emerge from my research. Highlighting the importance accorded to language, three of my four main protagonists supported the “rational” reform of English as an integral part of their Angloworld advocacy. Carnegie, who put his money where his mouth was by bankrolling the Simplified Spelling Board, argued that English was “the most potent of all instruments for drawing the race together, insuring peace and advancing civilization.” Given the universal significance of English, it was imperative to improve it. He made two principal arguments. The first was that simplified spelling would increase the efficiency of Angloworld social interaction, eliminating one of the main sources of discord and confusion between the scattered members of the “English-speaking People.” It would facilitate union. The second was that as the English-speaking people, under American leadership, embarked on a mission to govern the globe, an easily intelligible version of the language would be accessible to the millions who would fall under their influence (54).[75]  Stead thought it was vital to harmonize the language, which was “more and more the universal currency of human thought.”[76] In The Americanization of the World (1902) he cautioned that if the British rejected the abridged orthography developed in the United States, a linguistic chasm would open up in the racial community, thus undermining the possibility of political unity (114).[77] A few years later he warned that if the United States unilaterally adopted the spelling reforms promoted by the Simplified Spelling Board it would be a “catastrophe” for the dream of Anglo-reunion. [78] Both sides had to embrace reform for it to work properly. Wells was one of the best-known proponents of Simplified Spelling – it appealed to his hyper-rationalist, technocratic side – and he served as Vice President of the Simplified Spelling Society. In Mankind in the Making, he argued that the standardization of language was essential for consolidating the New Republic. Its citizens needed to speak with “one accent, one idiom, and one intonation.” This was a “necessary preliminary” to the “complete attainment of the more essential nucleus in the new Republican idea” (183).[79]

I’m also glad that Suchak appreciated the account of racial peace in Chapter 7. As he notes, my principal historiographical target in the chapter is the International Relations (IR) literature on the genealogy of the “Democratic Peace thesis,” which tends to jump from late eighteenth-century political thought – usually Immanuel Kant, but sometimes Thomas Paine and Jeremy Bentham – into the twentieth century, thus missing out the wide-ranging debates over peace and popular politics during the nineteenth century, and the development, albeit halting and partial, of democratic politics on both sides of the Atlantic.[80] He suggests that such arguments resonated more widely than I allow, and that many plans for peace were “not contingent on Anglo-American reunion.” I do not want to suggest otherwise. My argument is that (heavily racialised) peace projects were central to debates over the Angloworld; I do not think that Angloworld concerns were relevant to all peace projects. (I did not find much support for Anglo-unionism among feminist peace activists, for example). Suchak’s point about the importance of gendered assumptions in characterisations of war and peace is significant, while his stress on the role of women in the peace movement – and organisations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – points to the importance of the ongoing endeavour to recover the sources and strands of women’s international thought.[81]

I would also like to draw attention to the racialized character of many arbitration projects. International arbitration was a popular feature of the expansive transatlantic peace discourse, central to peace movements and the burgeoning field of international law alike. It was given an Angloworld twist by many of those who were intent on establishing Anglo-American unity. In my account of arbitration, which falls in a discussion of Carnegie’s views on peace and law, I distinguish between regulatory and revisionary arbitration models (neither of which are necessarily Anglo-American, 74-76). A relatively narrow legal instrument, the former presupposes the existence of sovereign states and war as features of global order. The latter regards arbitration as an initial step on the road to fundamental geopolitical transformation. It was figured as an institutional mechanism to catalyse or accelerate systemic change, principally through serving as a legal foundation for new supranational institutions or polities. An Anglotopian variant of the revisionary argument was promoted by some of the more ambitious unionists, including Carnegie and Stead. They contended that an Anglo-American arbitration treaty was both feasible – because the two countries were part of the English-speaking people – and would establish the basis for much deeper integration in the future. I look forward to seeing Suchak’s own work on the wide-ranging debates about race, empire, and peace in the United States.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate my thanks to George Giannakopoulos for organizing this roundtable and writing the introduction, and to Amanda Behm, Sam Klug, Ryoko Nakano, and Neil Suchak for taking the time to read Dreamworlds of Race and offering such incisive and thoughtful commentaries on it. It has been a pleasure to engage with them.


[1] See James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1919 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); See also Duncan Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007); Bell, Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

[2] James Belich, Replensishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783-1919 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008); Bill Schwarz, The White Man’s World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[3] Duncan Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order, 1860-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[4] Wells directed his ire against range of prominent intellectuals including sociologist Benjamin Kidd, philologist Max Müller, historians E. A. Freeman and J. R. Seeley, and jurist Henry Maine.

[5] David Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001).

[6] For the coding of systemic discrimination in the South as “the Negro Problem” by practitioners of the nascent field of international relations, see Robert Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015), esp. Part I.

[7] Saul Dubow, “Colonial Nationalism, the Milner Kindergarten and the Rise of ‘South Africanism’, 1902-10’,” History Workshop Journal, 43:1 (1997) and “The Curious Absence of ‘Civil War’ in Africa: A Comment on David Armitage’s Civil Wars,” Global Intellectual History, 4:3 (2019); Lake and Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line, chs. 6 and 9.

[8] Rachel K. Bright and Andrew R. Dilley, “After the British World,” The Historical Journal, 60:2 (2017), 547–68. For a key work on the U.S. side that nonetheless suggests further room for exchange, see Aziz Rana, The Two Faces of American Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010), esp. 8-9, 89-93.

[9] Bell cites, primarily, Or Rosenboim, The Emergence of Globalism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017) and Adom Getachew, Worldmaking after Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).

[10] Erik Linstrum, Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016).

[11] Paul Kramer, “Empires, Exceptions, and Anglo-Saxons: Race and Rule between the British and United States Empires, 1880–1910,” Journal of American History 88:4 (March 2002): 1321.

[12] The preceding two volumes in this “trilogy” are The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007) and Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

[13] Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989).

[14] Aziz Rana, The Two Faces of American Freedom (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010).

[15] Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

[16] Jessica Blatt, Race and the Making of American Political Science (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), 31-32.

[17] Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 165; William M. Armstrong, E. L. Godkin: A Biography (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1978), 107-125.

[18] David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001).

[19] Natalie J. Ring, The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880–1930 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012).

[20] Gurminder K. Bhambra, Yolande Bouka, Randolph B. Persaud, Olivia U. Rutazibwa, Vineet Thakur, Duncan Bell, Karen Smith, Toni Haastrup, and Seifudein Adem, “Why Is Mainstream International Relations Blind to Racism?” Foreign Policy, July 3, 2020. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/03/why-is-mainstream-international-relations-ir-blind-to-racism-colonialism/.

[21] Matthew Houdek and Kendall R. Phillips, “Rhetoric and the Temporal Turn: Race, Gender, Temporalities,” Women’s Studies in Communication 43:4 (2020): 369-383. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07491409.2020.1824501.

[22] Cemil Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007). Atsuko Watanabe, Japanese Geopolitics and the Western Imagination (Cham. Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

[23] Sven Saaler and Christopher W. A. Szpilman, eds. Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History, Volumes 1 and 2 (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011). Sven Saaler and J. Victor Koschmann, eds. Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History: Colonialism, Regionalism, and Borders (New York: Routledge, 2006).

[24] Duncan Bell and Srdjan Vucetic, “Brexit, CANZUK, and the Legacy of Empire,” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 21:2 (2019): 367-382, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1369148118819070.

[25] M. Hakan Yavuz, Nostalgia for the Empire: The Politics of Neo-Ottomanism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020). Soner Çağaptay, Erdoğan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2019).

[26] Tim Winter, Geocultural Power: China’s Quest to Revive the Silk Roads for the Twenty-First Century (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2019). Lina Benabdallah, “Spanning Thousands of Miles and Years: Political Nostalgia and China’s Revival of the Silk Road,” International Studies Quarterly 65:2 (2021): 294–305.

[27] Edward Said, Orientalism (London: Penguin Press 2003).

[28] Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2000).

[29] Roxanne L. Euben, Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).

[30] Julian Go, “Globalizing Sociology, Turning South: Perspectival Realism and the Southern Standpoint,” Sociologica 2 (May-August 2016): 1-41. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2383/85279.

[31] Duncan Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009).

[32] Duncan Bell, Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

[33] See for instance: Leslie Butler, Critical Americans: Victorian Intellectuals and Transatlantic Liberal Reform (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007); Charlie Laderman. Sharing the Burden: The Armenian Question, Humanitarian Intervention, and Anglo-American Visions of Global Order (Oxford University Press: New York, 2019); Stephen Tuffnell, Made in Britain: Nation and Emigration in Nineteenth-century America (Oakland:  University of California Press, 2020).

[34] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).

[35] Founded in 1906 by Columbia literature professor James Brander Matthews, the Simplified Spelling Board was an organisation that sought to provide a rational structure to the orthography of American English – standardising conventions around spelling and grammar so that these would become easier to learn.

[36] W.T. Stead, The Americanization of the World (London: Review of Reviews, 1902), 62.

[37] Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

[38] Benjamin Allen Coates, Legalist Empire: International Law and American Foreign Relations in the Early Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 28-32; Maartje Abbenhuis, An Age of Neutrals: Great Power Politics, 1815-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 145-148.

[39] Louis Pérez, The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 37-40.

[40] Paul A. Kramer, “Race‐Making and Colonial Violence in the U.S. Empire: The Philippine‐American War as Race War,” Diplomatic History 30:2 (2006): 169-210.

[41] David Patterson, Toward a Warless World: The Travail of the American Peace Movement, 1887-1914 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976), 53.

[42] Ian Tyrrell, Woman’s World - Woman’s Empire: The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in International Perspective, 1880-1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991); Harriet Hyman Alonso, Peace as a Women’s Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women’s Rights (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1993); Kristin Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

[43] H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, ed. Gregory Claeys (London: Penguin, 2005 [1905]), 224; Wells, Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought (Mineola: Dover, 1999 [1901]), 124, 123.

[44] Wells, Mankind in the Making, 391.

[45] In Dreamworlds I draw on Mark Jerng’s account of racial worldmaking: Racial Worldmaking: The Power of Popular Fiction (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017).

[46] Wells, Anticipations, p. 146. See also the discussion in Duncan Bell, “Founding the World States: H. G. Wells on Empire and the English-Speaking Peoples,” International Studies Quarterly 62:4 (December 2018): 867-879.

[47] Wells, Anticipations, 168, 163.

[49] Wells, “Race Prejudice,” 382.

[50] On his pragmatism, see Duncan Bell, “Pragmatism and Prophecy: H. G. Wells and the Metaphysics of Socialism,” American Political Science Review 112”2 (May 2018): 409-422. On how Wells’s pragmatism influenced his account of race (social analysis more broadly), as well as on his reception in British and American social science, see Bell, “Pragmatic Utopianism and Race: H. G. Wells among the Social Scientists,” Modern Intellectual History 16:3 (November 2019): 863-95.

[51] Wells, Modern Utopia, 220, 23.

[52] G. W. Foote, “Social Dreams,” Progress, 6 (1886): 190. See also the discussion in J.A. Hobson, “Edward Bellamy and the Utopian Romance,” The Humanitarian, 13 (1898): 179-89.

[53] Bell, “Pragmatic Utopianism and Race.” See, for example, Wells, “The So-Called Science of Sociology” (1907), in Wells, An Englishman Looks at the World (London: Cassell, 1914): 192–206; Wells, “The Discovery of the Future,” Nature 65:1684 (1902): 326–33

[54] Andrew Carnegie, The Reunion of Britain and America: A Look Ahead (Edinburgh: Andrew Elliott, 1893), 31.  I also discuss Carnegie’s account of utopia in “Race, Utopia, Perpetual Peace: Andrew Carnegie’s Dreamworld” in Jean-Francois Drolet and James Dunkerley, eds., American Foreign Policy: Studies in Intellectual History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017): 46-67.

[55] George Sydenham Clarke, “A Naval Union with Great Britain,” North American Review, 158/448 (1894), 353; The ‘Borderland’ is a reference to Stead’s commitment to spiritualism.

[56] Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (London: Bodley Head, 1904). Among his cast of social “prophets,” Chesterton listed Rhodes, Stead, and Wells.

[57] Harrison, The Positivist Review (1906), cited in Review of Reviews, 202 (October 1906), 39.

[58] Bell, The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), ch. 2.

[59] Wells, The Future in America, pp. 109, 132.

[60] Andrew Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie (London: Penguin, 2006), 662.

[61] Dos Passos, The Anglo-Saxon Century and the Unification of the English-speaking People, 2nd ed. (New York: Putnam, 1903), pp. 101, 104.

[62] More generally, see Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

[63] I discuss Afro-futurism briefly, chiefly in relation to Sutton Griggs, Imperium in Imperio (1899) on pages 378-9. For a detailed account of its early history, see Isiah Lavender, Afrofuturism Rising: The Literary Preshistory of a Movement (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2019).

[64] Here I built on the work of African-American historians, most notably Wilson Jeremiah Moses. See, for example, Moses, Afrotopia: The Roots of African American Popular History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

[65] Musab Younis, “United by Blood’: Race and Transnationalism during the Belle Époque,” Nations & Nationalism 23:3 (July 2017): 484-504; Adom Getachew, Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and fall of Self-Determination (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019); Cemil Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007).

[66] Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori, eds., Global Intellectual History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013); Leigh K. Jenco, Murad Idris, Megan C. Thomas, eds., Oxford Handbook of Comparative Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

[67] Andrew Carnegie, The Negro in America: An Address Delivered before the Philosophical Institution of Edinburgh, 16th October 1907 (Inverness: Carruthers, 1907).

[68] The following paragraph is drawn from Bell, “Pragmatic Utopianism and Race.”

[69] Wells, Future in America, 176. The chapter was originally published as “The Tragedy of Color,” Harper’s Weekly, 15 September 1906.

[70] Wells, Future in America, 176, 177.

[71] Wells, Future in America, 169, 170.

[72] Archer, Through Afro-America: An English Reading of the Race Problem (London: Chapman & Hall, 1910).

[73] Archer, Through Afro-America, 198ff.

[74] Wells, “Race Prejudice,” 384. On Olivier, see Francis Lee, Fabianism and Colonialism: The Life and Political Thought of Lord Sydney Olivier (London: Defiant, 1988).

[75] “Mr. Carnegie Defends Spelling Reform Plan,” New York Times, 25 March 1906, 4;. On the wider movement, see Jonathan Zimmerman, “Simplified Spelling and the Cult of Efficiency in the ‘Progressive’ Era,” Journal of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, 9:3 (2010): 366–94.

[76] Stead, Review of Reviews, 15 (January 1897), 338.

[77] Stead, The Americanization of the World (London: Review of Reviews, 1902), 301-303.

[78] Stead, Review of Reviews 34 (September 1906), 234.

[79] Wells, Mankind in the Making, 136, 157.

[80] For valuable account of late eighteenth century thinkers, see Michael Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 12:3 and 4 (1983): 205-235 and 323-353; Thomas Walker, “The Forgotten Prophet: Tom Paine’s Cosmopolitanism and International Relations,” International Studies Quarterly 44:1 (2000): 51-72; Tomas Baum, “A Quest for Inspiration in the Liberal Peace Paradigm: Back to Bentham,” European Journal of International Relations 14:3 (2008): 431-453.

[81] Patricia Owens and Katharina Rietzler, eds., Women’s International Thought: A New History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). Questions of international peace are the focus of Part VII of Patricia Owens, Katharina Rietzler, Kimberley Hutchings, Sarah Dunstan, eds., Women’s International Thought: Towards a New Canon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021).