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Week 19: Sexuality, Gender, and Empire

Interracial relationships and sexual liaisons had always been a by-product of empire, but in the nineteenth century the racial and gender dynamics of these couplings were increasingly interpreted in a medical framework that emphasized their dangers. Efforts to reduce venereal disease led to restrictions on prostitution throughout the colonies, with local women almost always presumed to be source of infection. Attitudes towards homosexuality, which had been seen as acceptable in some contexts, also began to harden with the importation of European religious mores. Such negative outcomes were coloured by centuries of assumptions about the sexuality of non-Europeans, which was increasingly seen as threatening to the morality and virility of male settlers. In this session we will examine how such views influenced both the rhetoric and legislation around interracial relations in various colonial settings.


Discussion Questions:

-How did the regulations around prostitution, intended to curb instances of veneral disease, differ in European and non-European settings?

-How was opposition to interracial relationships and marriages justified from a medical standpoint?

-What racial assumptions and biases underlay attempts to curb interracial sexual relations in the colonial setting?


Required Readings:

**Marc Epprecht, ‘Sexuality, Africa, History’, The American Historical Review, 114 (2009), pp. 1258-1272. [e-journal]

*Donna J. Guy, ‘Medical Imperialism Gone Awry: The Case against Legalized Prostitution in Latin America,’ in Teresa Meade and Mark Walker, Science, Medicine and Cultural Imperialism (Basingstoke, 1991), pp. 75-94

*Philip Howell, ‘Prostitution and Racialised Sexuality: The Regulation of Prostitution in Britain and the British Empire before the Contagious Diseases Acts,’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 18 (2000), 321-339. [online]

**Philippa Levine, ‘Venereal Disease, Prostitution, and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British India’, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 4 (1994), 579-602. [e-journal]

*Laura Ann Stoler, ‘Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Gender, Race and Morality in Colonial Asia,’ in Michaela di Leonardo (ed.), Feminist Anthropology in the Postmodern Era (Berkeley, 1991), pp. 51-101 [extracts]

Further Readings:

Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton (eds.), Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History (Durham, 2005)

Kenneth Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class Under the British Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics, 1793-1905 (New York, 1980)

Alison Bashford, ‘Medicine, Gender, and Empire’ in Philippa Levine (ed.), Gender and Empire (Oxford, 2004), pp. 112-133

Laura Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Los Angeles, 2002) [e-book]

Marc Epprecht, ‘“Unnatural Vice” in South Africa: The 1907 Commission of Enquiry,' The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 34 (2001), pp. 121-140 [e-journal]

Philip Howell, Geographies of Regulation: Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain and the Empire (Cambridge, 2009)

Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience (Manchester, 1990).

Will Jackson and Emily Manktelow (eds.), Subverting Empire: Deviance and Disorder in the British Colonial World (Basingstoke, 2015) [e-book]

Arnold P. Kaminsky, ‘Morality Legislation and British Troops in Late Nineteenth-Century India’, Military Affairs, 43 (1979), 78-83.

Philippa Levine, ‘Rereading the 1890s: Venereal Disease as “Constitutional Crisis” in Britain and British India’, Journal of Asian Studies, 55 (1996), 585-612. [e-journal]

_____________, Prostitution, Race & Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire (2003).

_____________, ‘Sexuality, Gender, and Empire’ in Philippa Levine (ed.), Gender and Empire (Oxford, 2004), 134-155

April J. Mayes, ‘Tolerating Sex: Prostitution, Gender, and Governance in the Dominican Republic, 1880s-1924’ in Juanita De Barros, Steven Palmer and David Wright (eds.), Health and Medicine in the Circum-Caribbean, 1800-1968 (New York, 2009), pp.121-141. [e-book]

Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Context (New York, 1995), [e-book]

Douglas M. Peers, ‘Soldiers, Surgeons and the Campaigns to Combat Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Colonial India, 1805-1860’, Medical History, 42 (1998), 137-60. [e-journal]

Damon Ieremia Salesa, Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian Empire (Oxford, 2011)

Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (2002)

_____________, ‘Making Empire Respectable: Race and Sexual Morality in Twentieth-Century Colonial Cultures,’ American Ethnologist 16 (1989), 26-51. [e-journal]

Erica Wald, Vice in the Barracks: Medicine, the Military and the Making of Colonial India, 1780-1868 (New York, 2014) [e-book]