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Imperial White

Imperial White: Race, Diaspora, and the British Empire

Radhika Mohanram
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Imperial White
    Book Description:

    Radhika Mohanram shows not just how British imperial culture shaped the colonies but how the imperial rule of colonies gave new meanings to what it meant to be British. Considering whether whiteness, like theory, can travel, Mohanram also provides a new perspective on white diaspora, a phenomenon of the nineteenth century that has been largely absent in diaspora studies, ultimately rethinking British imperial whiteness.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5382-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Postcolonial, Non-Victorian Nonwhite
    (pp. xi-xxvi)

    Of course, my writing ultimately has its autobiographical moments. One of my favorite movies of all time, Andrew Niccol’s 1997 sci-fiGattaca, promises that in the posthuman, “not too distant future,” racial discriminations become unknown, a forgotten part of a long-past history, an inexplicable curiosity of a bygone age. In the globalized, posthuman future, men and women of all races work together. If race, class, gender, and sexuality do not function with quite the same resonance as we know them, other discriminations rush to fill the vacuum left behind in Gattaca. In the world depicted, discrimination is “down to a...

  5. Part I. In the Metropole

    • Chapter 1 White Masculinity: Playing at Rugby and the Sepoy Mutiny
      (pp. 3-25)

      May 1857 marks the narrative opening for this chapter, a date that is central to modern Indian history as it records the beginning of the Sepoy Mutiny in Meerut, India, or the Indian Mutiny, or the Great Revolt, or the First War of National Independence, as it is variously called. For one year and one month, Indian soldiers and the British fought for control over India and the subsequent unfolding/narrative of colonial history. This event inaugurated the future shape of the British Empire: it spelled the end of the East India Company’s hold over India and marked its formal takeover...

    • Chapter 2 The Whiteness of Women: In Theory and under Lock and Key
      (pp. 26-56)

      The focus of the previous chapter was on the changing meaning of British masculinity in the mid-nineteenth century, changes brought about by events that occurred in the far reaches of Empire as much as those in Britain, which tightly braided masculinity with a whiteness. In this chapter I will examine the racialization of white British women in the nineteenth century. If men were racialized because of political events overseas, how would women, traditionally located in the private realm, be racialized? Would they be exempt from the discourse of hierarchy that pervades racial thinking?

      Look at the following statistics and their...

    • Chapter 3 Victoria’s Secret: The History of White Sexuality
      (pp. 57-86)

      The term “miscegenation,” or the sexual union of whites with blacks, was coined in the year 1864 during the American Civil War by two New York journalists who wrote a pamphlet titledMiscegenation, which was subsequently reviewed in theAnthropological Review. Th e reviewer of the work was enraged at the promotion of miscegenation and concluded that only a mulatto/“mulatress” could have written this work.¹ Indeed, interracial sexuality becomes visible only within an awareness of racial demarcations. While race-mixing was particularly repulsive to most nineteenth-century Americans who were enmeshed within the trauma of slavery, Great Britain too, with its enormous...

  6. Part II. In the South

    • Chapter 4 White Water: Race and Oceans Down Under
      (pp. 89-121)

      Kevin Reynolds’s postapocalyptic 1995 filmWaterworldconcludes without a reference to the postcolonial past: the conquest of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Though severed from a comprehension of the pastness of history, the movie is set in a future of melted polar ice caps, an Earth that has consequently been flooded, a present without dry land, and the evolution of a nautical society. Land and water are dislocated from their contemporary meanings. References to history, if any, become extremely abstract, and history itself becomes intemporal in this film. There is only the substantiality and expanse of water...

    • Chapter 5 Mourning and Melancholia: The Wages of Whiteness
      (pp. 122-148)

      The landscape in New Zealand is still saturated with the remnants of melancholy: it is said that the pohutakawa trees that spill their crimson blossoms on the white beaches of New Zealand at Christmastime symbolize the blood—Maori and Pakeha blood—spilled on them during the New Zealand land wars of the 1860s.¹ I have before me a collage of nineteenth-century texts, all of which marvel at the indescribable, blinding beauty of the New Zealand landscape—its beaches, bushes, the silvery foliage, the clarity of the air—but hovering over all of these texts is the whiff of tragedies past....

    • Chapter 6 Dermographia: How the Irish Became White in India
      (pp. 149-174)

      In the magnificentDiscipline and Punish, Michel Foucault enters into a seamless discourse with E. P. Thompson on the shifting embodiment of Europeans under the aegis of capitalism.¹ In this text, Foucault describes the docility encoded within white European bodies in the late eighteenth century: the soldier is taught to stand and hold his head in particular ways; his movements, gestures, attitudes controlled; he is made to function with economy and efficiency; taught to pick up and handle his rifle so that it mirrors his body and functions as its analogy. The description is that of a hall of mirrors...

  7. Epilogue: Europe as an Other
    (pp. 175-178)

    In the shadow of Europe attempting to consolidate itself as a sovereign, homogeneous body under the aegis of the European Union; in the shadow of Europe touting a single currency, a European passport, and a European economy; in the shadow of Europe reinserting each European citizen as representing the whole continent, I write this book. I write this book to examine theprocess of consolidation of sovereignty, the process through which homogenization takes place, to restore the hybridity to its nineteenth-century manifestation. InA Critique of Postcolonial Reason, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak insists, “Feminist historiography excavates.”¹ Armed with this charge, I...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 179-206)
  9. Index
    (pp. 207-212)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-213)