Writing under the Raj: Gender, Race, and Rape in the British Colonial Imagination, 1830-1947

By Nancy L. Paxton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Lost Children

NATIONALISM AND THE REINSCRIPTION OF THE GENDERED BODY

Here then power is associated with the discourses that surround the body and create "sex" and sexuality.

Vikki Bell1

In the 1890s, narratives about English children lost to their colonial families and communities began to emerge as a major theme in Anglo-Indian fiction, Kipling Kim ( 1902) being certainly the most famous example. Many of the cultural and psychological anxieties that find expression in Kipling Kim become more visible when this novel is read in the context of two other Anglo-Indian novels, written in the same fifteen-year period, about English children who were lost during the Indian Uprising of 1857: Sara Jeannette Duncan The Story of Sonny Sahib ( 1895) and Philip Lawrence Oliphant Maya: A Tale of East and West ( 1908). Since it also focuses on an English child lost during the Indian Uprising of 1857, Rabindranath Tagore Gora ( 1910) provides an alternative version of this story, but it charts a very different trajectory for an English child adopted by Indian parents. 2 The novels in this chapter reveal why colonial anxieties concerning interracial rape found expression in narratives about English children lost during the Indian Uprising of 1857, and show how colonial fears about identity, sex, reproduction, and miscegenation were amplified in the 1890s, when novelists imagined children who were temporarily assigned to that intolerable space where mixed-race children were forced to live, in the world between the colonizers and the colonized.

Interracial rape was most threatening to the foundations of nineteenth- century colonial societies when the rape victim gave birth to a "mixed race

-165-

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