The BBC Empire Service: the voice, the discourse of the master and ventriloquism

Hill, Andrew (2010). The BBC Empire Service: the voice, the discourse of the master and ventriloquism. South Asian Diaspora, 2(1) pp. 25–38.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19438190903541952

Abstract

This article uses psychoanalytically derived perspectives on the voice - in particular Lacan's work - to shed light on the political functions of the BBC's Empire Service and the foreign language services that developed out of it. Focusing on the formal qualities of the voice, it analyses how the voice as broadcast on the Empire Service was deployed as a means of linking up the British Empire, and above all the British diaspora. It examines how - with the emergence of the BBC's first foreign language services directed at indigenous, colonial populations - the voice came to play a rather different role, as an instrument of imperial administration. The article concludes by applying the model of ventriloquism to illuminate how these services allowed the imperial centre to speak in the voice of its peoples.

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