White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism

By Gail Ching-Liang Low | Go to book overview

1

BODY/BORDER LINES

Haggard's African writing is preoccupied with racial bodies. This engagement is not unusual, for in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the body functions as a privileged trope in a variety of discourses ranging from the medical, anthropological and literary to the critical. The body's metaphoric standing renders it an exemplary historical map of social relations; the model of the physiologically healthy body was a common means of conceptualising psychological, national, literary and racial health. For not only are issues of sexuality, health and disease addressed physiologically but urban poverty, crime, race, nationality and literature also are discoursed upon via the figure of the body. This chapter will carve out four distinct thematic areas-health and the nation, the gendered body, the colonial body and the cultural body-with references to the culture and literature of the political Right in order better to situate the historical dimensions of the bodily fantasy surrounding white and black bodies.


HEALTH AND THE NATION

In their attempts to come to terms with previous historical versions of the late Victorian and Edwardian period as either a 'crisis age' or a 'golden age', contemporary historians have drawn attention to the centrifugal and centripetal tendencies in politics and society (Read, 1982). The former will be my focus, for such a narration of history echoes the paranoia and fears expressed by the forces on the pre-war Right and their attempts to reverse what they saw as Britain's decline (Kennedy and Nicholls, 1981; Searle, 1971; Colls and Dodd, 1986). Fears for Britain's vulnerability in the face of economic competition from the newly industrialised nations of

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White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Note on Spellings xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I 11
  • 1 - Body/Border Lines 13
  • 2 - The Dominion of Sons 36
  • 3 - Mimesis of Savagery 66
  • Transitions 104
  • Part II 111
  • 4 - The Colonial Uncanny 113
  • 5 - The City of Dreadful Night 156
  • 6 - The Colonial Mirror 191
  • 7 - Loafers and Story-Tellers 238
  • Conclusion 264
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 291
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