Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers French Indochina and the Lover

Topics: Colonialism, French colonial empire, Miscegenation Pages: 9 (2631 words) Published: December 15, 2011
Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers, European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia. Ann Laura Stoler &
Race and the Education of Desire, Fauoult’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Ann Laura Stoler

We will be presenting two essays by Ann Laura Stoler. The first essay, “Race and the Education of Desire”, Foucault’s history of sexuality discusses class, race and desire in terms of family and state regulations which are identified as the moral [bourgeois] code in the colonial context of Indochina. The second essay, Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers, European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia is focused on the construction of colonial categories in relation to people belonging to various geographical and cultural roots.

Background of French Colonial Expansion:
During the nineteenth century, France embarked on a series of conquests, annexations, and campaigns of pacification. From 1900 to 1914 the pacification of various colonies continued, agreements were signed with local authorities, and administrative organizations were put in place that imposed French models for schools, hospitals, and the army. Colonists began developing infrastructures which facilitated the exportation of raw material to metropolitan France.

French Indochina
It was a colony of commerce which was under the French rule in the 1860s and in the 1870s the Europeans began to settle here, in 1900 approximately 91 thousand settlers were classified European in the Indies. The metis population is also included in this estimate.

Race and the Education of Desire, Foucault’s history of sexuality Stoler represents bourgeois classism in its linkage to racism. The Bourgeois code is discussed as a desire to defend its members from the pollution of the primitive others. The former are considered as threat and enemy of the White culture. Bourgeois fear of assimilation [re]establishes boundaries and influences the entire society [the other social groups]. This moral bourgeois code, represented in the film, is politically defended and implemented in everyday life, it presents prescriptions for both, bourgeois [the lower-class Whites] and natives. In other words the external boundaries of the group are required to be defended by all its members. Hence, racism is established as exposed to the individual and the group explicit regulations.

The moral code basically defines appropriate gender and sexual behavior of both men and women. Male and female sexual boundaries are different in that man’s sexuality is less regulated than that of women. Male sexual behavior requires less attention in the colonial context. Man’s outside- camp [home] sexual relations remain unregulated as far as they do not include interracial marriage. The concombinage with native women turn into wide-spread practice. However, the opposite also became a practice as well [ white women with native men] [p.183] Masculinity defines its hierarchy: at the bottom the native men. The former’s sexuality became under question.The native men were deprived by their masculinity within the colony; they were effeminized. They were seen as less capable men [in the context of Indochina], both sexually and socially. They were gazed as primitive unable to [reason]…. “it takes two of you to do the job”

Crossing the race and class boundaries becomes a morality issue. The invisible ties separate different classes and races. However, that question becomes more complex in the colonial context. The sexual relations among economically lower status bourgeois and middle class native complicate the race and class categories. Besides, those interracial relations did not challenge the racism [the invisible ties played out their role], neither the created stereotype regarding the native men. Nevertheless, the boundaries were policed from the both sides of the borderline. Natives were also...

Cited: Nagel, 2000. Ethnicity and Sexuality. Annual Review of Sociology. 26
Pratt, 1992 – Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routhledge
Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven, CT. Yale University Press.
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