Race and the Victorians

Topics: Colonialism, British Empire, Racism Pages: 5 (1216 words) Published: May 22, 2014
-The reign of Victoria
oMark Twain on occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubliee. British history is 2000 years old and yet in a good many ways the world has moved farther ahead since the Queen was born than it moved in all the rest of the two thousand put together. -Post-colonial Theory

oRacism is a projection on a colonial ‘Other’ of what is despised, troubling in the self oRacism reflects anxieties and issues in the metropole
oBill Schwartx, The White Man’s World (2011): ‘black and white are reciprocal entities… neither can exist without the other, for each is already the other’ (p. 184) -Historical debate on race in the British Empire

oBrattlinger, Taming Cannibals, Race and the Victorians
oRacism endemic to systemn (expansive view)
o‘Ideologies of racism and imperialism were deeply symbiotic and often indistinguishable frm each other.’ – at home and abroad o‘Light touch’ of other historians
-Others agree with Brattlinger…
oKenan Malik: racism is a ‘means of reconciling the conflict between ideology of equality and the reality of the persistence of inequality by attributing it to nature’ oHannah Arendt – one of the inevitable offshoots of capitalism is colonisation – you need a mechanism for justification of exploitation •Extreme inequality in colonies

Needs to be justification
Criminals in metropole – justification is racist discourse -Opponents/Restrictions
oIdentity more complex and fluid than just race
oAlthough because of 1970s cultural turn we are obsessed with race, this was not the case in 19th century oDarwin: Empire did not matter that much, thus imperial discourse about race does not matter oPorter: universal benevolence

oClass mattered more than race
oContradiction in the superiority of Whites in their behaviour oBrattlinger: feared more other European races
-Race, Empire and Ideology
oSome definitions:
Ideology: meaning in the service of power
Whiteness: an index for imagining what the British imperial civilisation represented •Frontiers, boundaries morality always threatened
Blackness: reconstructed as something inferior
Ideology useful: applicable to everyday life
-Usefulness of racism:
oPatriotism and nationalism
oProblems come from outside
oHighly visible/easy to mark the difference
Who’s in/who’s out
Outline of empire on a map – color difference
oShows the outline of empire
-Ferguson: The Victorian World and ‘Anglo-globalisation’ oThe Age of improvement
o1837-1901 Queen Victoria’s reign
o1851 The Great Exhibition
o1869 The Opening of the Suez Canal
o1879 First telephone exchange set up – communication revolution oRevolution of time – time needs to be set; railroads
oQuarter of the globe: 1/5th of humanity is part of Great Britain -Changing Racial Attitudes – An Outline
Race = social construct, not a biological given (look at government census) •Racialism – a classification and identificaton using definitions of racial difference; pre-notion to racism, application leads to racism •Racism – demeaning and irrational ideology with an intimate relationship to imperialism •Disraeli: ‘All is race. There is no other truth.’

Class and gender not as important
oPre-Victorian Racial Attitudes
Kenan Malik, Race: The History of an Idea
Biblical, Christian Roots
oEurope and its internal others – Curse of cain: an act of excusion and exploitation oAfricans – slavery, sin and bestiality (Japeth, Shem and Ham, sons of Noah) oNew worlds – natural order and God’s creation; Noble Savages lving in the Garden of Eden – 17th century first contact, admired by travelers and explorers – how to incorporate these new worlds? •See pre-colonial history peasants/aristocrats

o18th Century Contact with Africa
Emma Christopher, A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain’s Convict Disaster in Africa •Urban context
Ethiopian ‘savage’
Queen Victoria’s ethiopian...
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