Gender, Race, Class and Colonialism
(Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies at Radcliffe)

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This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the ways in which social and cultural meanings of gender, class, and racialized difference have been incorporated into, shaped, and shaped by colonialism, imperialism and "post-colonialism." Taught by a historian and cultural/literary theorist, the course uses the conceptual frameworks and methodologies of history and cultural and literary theory to analyse imperialism and colonialism as historical processes. In doing so, it focuses particularly on the gendered, raced, and classed meanings of those historical processes. The point of the course is not to provide a comprehensive examination of imperialism and colonialism, but an understanding of how these systems have operated with respect to race and gender, historically, in several geographical settings, through specific cultural practices and relations of power.

The first part of the course examines the historical foundations of colonialism and imperialism with particular reference to the establishment of colonial regimes in India and Africa in the nineteenth century. It examines key conceptual categories used in the course: gender, race, class, colonialism, and imperialism, and focuses on white Europeans’ constructions of and confrontations with colonial subjects. Throughout the course we pay attention to the dialectical relations between colonial subjects (and subjecthood) and colonizers—that is, to understand how imperial regimes not only imposed notions of gendered and racialized difference on colonial subjects, but how concepts of gender and race produced in colonial contexts also influenced the meanings of gender and race in the metropole.

The second part of the course examines the place of gender, race, and class in nationalist, anticolonial movements and in critiques of colonialism, focusing on women’s and men’s agency and resistance to colonial regimes. We explore the critiques of white feminist theory that feminist women of color have made and examine the importance of neocolonial economic and political relations in the late twentieth century. Our final meeting will return to the categories gender, race, and class and re-examine their meanings in light of the issues discussed in the course.

The course will meet Tuesday evenings 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Course Structure and Requirements: The course will be conducted as a seminar. Both instructors will be present at all meetings. Students will be responsible for at least one weekly presentation of the required readings and the questions for discussion. Students will have the option of writing two short (10-15 page) papers, writing one longer paper (20-25 pages), or writing a short paper and giving a class presentation on some of the recommended (optional) readings. Instructions about the papers will be provided at the first meeting of the seminar.

Texts: In addition to a coursepack containing the individual articles listed below, available for purchase at the Coop, students should purchase the following (also available at the Coop):

Antoinette Burton, Burdens of History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

Aphra Behn, Oronokoo.

Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality v.1 (New York:Random House, 1985).

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions.

Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

Kumari Jayawardena, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (London: Zed; Delhi: Kali for Women,1986).

Cynthia Enloe, Bannanas, Beaches, and Bases. Making Feminist Sense of International Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

*********All articles below are included in coursepack********

Week I. Feb 2 Introduction. Gender, Race, Empire, and Slavery in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. This session will introduce a number of central issues and questions in the history of imperialism and colonialism, focusing on a few areas that will appear throughout the course—the British in India and Africa, French colonialism in Algeria and West Africa, and the Dutch in Indonesia. What do we mean by imperialism? Colonialism? Post-Colonialism? Neo-Colonialism? What is the place of gender in imperial and colonial regimes? What do we mean by racialized difference? What was the relationship between race and imperialism, race and slavery, capitalism and slavery, capital formation and imperialism? What were the raced and gendered consequences of these relationships? Are "colonizer" and "colonized" really stable categories?

 

Required readings:

Margaret Strobel, "Gender, Race, and Empire in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Africa and Asia," in Renate Bridenthal, Susan Mosher Stuard and Merry E. Wiesner, eds., Becoming Visible: Women in European History (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1998), pp.389-414, in coursepack.

Peter Fryer, Black People and the British Empire. An Introduction (London: Pluto Press, 1988), pp.1-37, in coursepack.

Nicholas Dirks, "Introduction: Colonialism and Culture," in Dirks, ed., Colonialism and Culture (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), pp.1-25, in coursepack.

Ann Laura Stoler and Frederick Cooper, "Between Metropole and Colony. Rethinking a Research Agenda," in Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, eds. The Tensions of Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp.1-56 in coursepack.

Recommended: Juergen Osterhammel, Colonialism.

Wolfgang Mommsen, Theories of Imperialism.

Week II. Feb.9 Cultural and Rhetorical Foundations of Imperialism and Colonialism. How did eighteenth and nineteenth century liberals and nationalists conceptualize imperialism and colonialism, race, and gender? How did gender influence colonial rhetorics of race and slavery. How did feminists adopt these colonial rhetorics? How did class, as much as race and gender, influence these constructions of colonial subjects?

Required readings:

Aphra Behn, Oronokoo.

Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Women excerpts in coursepack.

Thomas Babington Macaulay "Minute on Education [1835]," in coursepack.

John Stuart Mill, "The Negro Question (1850)" in coursepack.

James Mill, "Manners of the Hindus (1858)," in coursepack.

Rudyard Kipling "The White Man’s Burden [1899]." in coursepack.

Josephine Butler, Native Races and the War (1900) in coursepack.

Recommended: Thomas Carlyle "Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question (1835)."

Antoinette Burton, "Fearful Bodies into Disciplined Subjects: Pleasure, Romance, and the Family Drama of Colonial Reform in Mary Carpenter’s Six Months in India," SIGNS 20 (Spring, 1995):545-574.

Week III. Feb.16 White vs. Native Sexuality. How did Europeans conceptualize and construct colonial sexuality? How did gender, race, and class figure in that construction? How did they attempt to regulate sexuality? How did notions of colonial sexuality figure in the conceptualization of white European sexuality? These questions will emerge again later in the course.

Required readings:

Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol.1 (New York: Vintage, 1985), pp. 3-35, 115-131.

Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire (Durham: Duke, 1995), excerpt on coursepack.

Anne Stoler, "Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Gender, Race, and Morality in Colonial Asia," Michaela di Leonardo, ed., Gender at the Crossroads of Knowledge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), pp. 55-101, in coursepack.

Susan Pedersen, "National Bodies, Unspeakable Acts: the Sexual Politics of Colonial Policy Making," Journal of Modern History 63 (December, 1991): 647-680, in coursepack.

Recommended: Anna Davin, "Imperialism and Motherhood," History Workshop Journal (1978): 9-65.

Week IV. Feb.23 Miscegenation/Metissage: To what extent is race a condition into which native people enter when they have sexual encounters with already racialized Europeans—and thus a discursive construct? How and why do racialization and definitions of racialized difference become important at the end of the 19th century? What are the consequences of miscegenation for citizenship? For class? What is the social and/or citizenship status of children of mixed marriages?

Required readings:

Lora Wildenthal, "Race, Gender, and Citizenship in the German Colonial Empire," in Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire. Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (Berkeley: California, 1997), pp.263-283, in coursepack.

Robert Young, "White Power, White Desire. The Political Economy of Miscegenation," in Colonial Desire (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), pp. 142-158, coursepack.

Richard Hyam, "The Sexual Life of the Raj," in Hyam, Empire and Sexuality (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), pp.115-136, coursepack.

Nadine Gordimer, "Town and Country Lovers," in coursepack.

Recommended: Ann Laura Stoler, "Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers: European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia," in Cooper and Stoler, Tensions of Empire (Berkeley: California, 1997), pp.198-237.

Week V. March 2 Masculinity and the "problem" of the colonial subject. How did colonialism conceptualize "maleness’? What was the relationship between the colonized male and the post-Enlightenment European man? How did these concepts differ between the mid-late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century? How is the sexuality of the colonial male both promoted and called into question?

Required readings:

Mrinalini Sinha, Colonial Masculinity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995) excerpt in coursepack.

Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (chapter on "The Fact of Blackness.") excerpt in coursepack.

Recommended: Laura Tabili, "Women ‘of a Very Low Type’: Crossing Racial Boundaries in Imperial Britain," in Laura L. Frader and Sonya O. Rose, eds., Gender and Class in Modern Europe (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996), pp. 165-190.

Laura Tabili, "We Ask for British Justice." Workers and Racial Difference in Late Imperial Britain (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994).

Week VI. March 9 Womenhood and Rights: European and Native Women. How did nineteenth and early twentieth century white European feminists confront colonial women? How did class and race shape those confrontations? How did white European feminists justify imperialism and reinforce the subject status of colonials?

Required readings:

Antoinette Burton, Burdens of History. British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture 1865-1915 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

Parama Roy, "As the Master Saw Her," in Philip Brett, Susan Foster, and Sue-Ellen Case, eds., Cruising the Performative: Interventions in the Representation of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Sexuality (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), in coursepack.

Recommended: Claire Midgley, Women Against Slavery. The British Campaigns 1780-1870 (London: Routledge, 1992).

Moira Ferguson, ed. The History of Mary Prince. A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996).

Kumari Jayawardena, White Women’s Other Burden.

Week VII. March 16 Education and the Regulation of Colonial Subjects. How did English education affect family structure? How were notions of femininity reconstituted by English education? What does it mean to know one’s history?

Required readings:

Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions.

Tejaswini Niranjana, "Translation, Colonialism, and the Rise of English," in Suati Joshi, Rethinking English. Essays in Literature, Language, and History (Delhi: Oxford, 1994), pp. 124-145, in coursepack.

Recommended: Mahasweta Devi, "Breast Giver," trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in Spivak,, In Other Worlds (London and New York: Methuen, 1987), pp.222-268.

 

Week VIII. March 23: NO CLASS. SPRING BREAK

Week IX. March 30 Confronting Colonial Practices I: Sati. How did colonial women confront the practice of sati, officially outlawed in 1829? How did white Westerners confront the issue and does their reaction clarify or complicate white Western notions of colonial women and colonial practices?

Required readings:

Lata Mani "Contentious Traditions: the Debate on Sati in Colonial India," in Sangari and Vaid, Recasting Women. Essays in Indian Colonial History, pp.88-126.

Ashish Nandy, "Sati: A Nineteenth Century Tale of Women, Violence, and Protest," in V.C. Joshi, ed., Rammohun Roy and the Process of Modernization in India (Delhi: Vikas, 1975), pp.168-194.

SATI A Symposium on Widow Immolation and its Social Context, in Seminar 342, excerpts in coursepack.

Recommended: Lata Mani, Contentious Traditions (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).

Week X. April 6 Confronting Colonial Practices II: Seclusion and Protection from the Gaze of Men: the Veil and the Harem. How did colonial women view the harem and the veil; how did these two forms of separation of women from the world of men figure in Western visions of empire and colonial women subjects? How did Western womens’ views of these practices serve their own political interests? Students might want to re-read portions of Burton, Burdens of History.

Required readings:

Malek Alloula. The Colonial Harem (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).

Leila Ahmed, "Western Ethnocentrism and the Perceptions of the Harem," Feminist Studies 8 (1982):522-534 in coursepack.

Franz Fanon, Dying Colonialism (New York: Grove Press, 1965), pp.35-67, in coursepack.

Fatima Mernissi "Women, Saints and Sanctuaries," in Elizabeth Abel and Emily Abel, eds., The SIGNS Reader (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp.57-68, in coursepack.

Recommended: Rokeya Hussein, Sultana’s Dream.

Week XI. April 13 Forms of Resistance. Feminist and Nationalist Movements and Critiques. How did gender figure in nineteenth and twentieth century nationalist movements and in feminist critiques of colonialism? How, for example, have women been employed as icons of national resistance? How do women enter into nationalist projects? How do women manage native patriarchy within the household as part of the relations of colonialism? How do women articulate their interests as women within national struggles?

Required readings:

Kumari Jayawardena. Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World. selected chapters to be assigned.

Susie Tharu and K. Lalita, eds., Women Writing in India 600 B.C. to the Present Vol.1 (Westbury: The Feminist Press, 1991), excerpts in coursepack.

Mrinalini Sinha, "Gender in the Critiques of Colonialism and Nationalism: Locating the Indian Woman," in Joan Wallach Scott, ed., Feminism and History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp.477-504, in coursepack.

Partha Chatterjee, "The Nationalist Resolution of the Women’s Question" in Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid, eds., Recasting Women. Essays in Indian Colonial History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990), pp.233-253, in coursepack.

Recommended: Partha Chatterjee, "Colonialism, Nationalism, and Colonized Women: the Contest in India," American Ethnologist 16:4 (November, 1989).

Maxine Molyneux, "Mobilization Without Emancipation: Women’s Interests, the State, and Revolution in Nicaragua," Feminist Studies 11 (Summer, 1985): 227-254.

Week XII. April 20 Postcolonialism and Feminism. How have postcolonial women of color criticized white feminist theory? What are the relations of power between the ethnographer and the native informant? How is knowledge produced about colonized women? How do imperial relations enable the production of white feminism as individualist feminism?

Required readings:

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses," in Feminist Review 30 (Autumn, 1988): 61-88; also in Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, eds., Third World Woman and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), in coursepack.

Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman, Native, Other. Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), Chapter 3 (pp.79-113), in coursepack.

Madhu Kishwar, "Why I Don’t Call Myself a Feminist." Manushi 61 (Nov.-Dec. 1990), in coursepack.

Gayatri Spivak, "Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism," in Henry Louis Gates Jr., ed., Race, Writing, and Difference (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996), pp.262-280, in coursepack.

Sara Suleri, "Women Skin Deep: Feminism and the Postcolonial Condition," Critical Inquiry 18 (Summer, 1992) 8 pp. Reprinted in Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. (New York: Routledge, 1995), pp.273-280, in coursepack.

Recommended: Julie Stephens, "Feminist Fictions: A Critique of the Category ‘Non-Western Women’ in Feminist Writings on India," in Ranajit Guha, ed., Subaltern Studies VI. Writings on South Asian History and Society (Delhi, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp.92-125.

Susie Tharu, "Response to Julie Stephens," in Guha, pp.126-131.

XIII. April 27 Gender, NeoColonialism, Transnationalism, and Global Capitalism in the Twentieth Century. How has global capitalism developed on the basis of gendered labor systems? How do practices of first world consumerism affect the lives of third world women? How are the lives of white Euro-American women and neocolonial women, as mediated by capital, interdependent?

Required readings:

Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), especially chapters 2,6,and 7.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "The Political Economy of Women as Seen by a Literary Critic." in Elizabeth Weed, ed., Coming To Terms. Feminism, Theory, Politics (New York: Routledge, 1989), pp.218-229, in coursepack.

Maria Mees, Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale (London: Zed Books, 1986), Chapter 5, "Violence Against Women and the Ongoing Primitive Accumulation of Capital," pp.145-174, in coursepack.

Recommended: Helen Safa and Peggy Antrobus, "Women and the Economic Crisis in the Carribean," in Lourdes Benaria and Shelly Feldman, eds., Unequal Burden. Economic Crisis, Persistent Poverty, and Women’s Work.

Week XIV. May 4 Final meeting: Rethinking our categories: what do race, gender, colonizer, colonized, mean? The faculty will develop some questions (with students’ suggestions) to stimulate a discussion that will attempt to sum up main themes of the course and raise new questions. What concepts will you take away from this course? What new issues has the course raised? Questions will be distributed in advance.