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Imperial White

Race, Diaspora, and the British Empire

2007
Author:

Radhika Mohanram

Imperial White

Analyzing whiteness in nineteenth-century British colonialism from India to Britain to Australia and New Zealand

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.

Imperial White is the first book to indicate the extent to which ideas of whiteness in imperial Victorian Britain were shaped by colonialism. It is a significant contribution to the growing field of whiteness studies.

Bill Ashcroft, co-author of The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

Radhika Mohanram shows not just how British imperial culture shaped the colonies but how the imperial rule of colonies shifted—and gave new meanings to—what it meant to be British.

Imperial White looks at literary, social, and cultural texts on the racialization of the British body and investigates British whiteness in the colonies to address such questions as: How was the whiteness in Britishness constructed by the presence of Empire? How was whiteness incorporated into the idea of masculinity? Does heterosexuality have a color? And does domestic race differ from colonial race? In addition to these inquiries on the issues of race, class, and sexuality, Mohanram effectively applies the methods of whiteness studies to British imperial material culture to critically racialize the relationship between the metropole and the peripheral colonies.

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 rereading—and rethinking—British imperial whiteness.

Imperial White

Radhika Mohanram teaches postcolonial cultural studies in the School of English, Communication, and Philosophy at the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University, Wales. She is the author of Black Body: Women, Colonialism, Space (Minnesota, 1999).

Imperial White

Imperial White is the first book to indicate the extent to which ideas of whiteness in imperial Victorian Britain were shaped by colonialism. It is a significant contribution to the growing field of whiteness studies.

Bill Ashcroft, co-author of The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

Imperial White is a welcome addition to the postcolonial studies shelf, and deepens the reader’s understanding of the depraved and all-too-lingering imagery of imperialism and race.

Leonardo Reviews

Mohanram, a scholar who brings together postcolonial studies, feminist theory and cultural studies, has explored the potential of applying insights from whiteness studies to various areas and episodes of British imperial history, and has produced several original interpretations that emphasize both embodiment and psychoanalytic categories.

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History