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

By Nancy L. Paxton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Mixed Couples

THE NEW WOMAN AND INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE

We agreed in thinking that the question of mixed marriages--marriages between European women and Indian gentlemen--is growing in importance every year that passes. It is a problem which will have to be seriously dealt with in the near future.

Fanny Farr Penny, A Question of Colour1

Male romances about the mutiny written by British and Anglo-Indian novelists in the 1880s and 1890s, including those about the Rani of Jhansi and about lost English children, nearly always exclude the possibilities offered by cross-racial marriage, suggesting how Social Darwinism, especially when it operated in concert with the New Imperialism, acted to redefine racial and gender differences and to valorize male aggression and extreme individualism. Anglo-Indian romances about courtship, usually written by and about women in this period, indicate, by contrast, a greater willingness to represent lovers who cross racial boundaries and establish legal marriages between colonizers and colonized. Though the mutiny romances considered in the previous chapters, like the romances discussed in this chapter, illustrate how racial differences gradually replaced religious identity as the dominant sign of difference in colonial epistemologies in the postmutiny period, this distinctive group of "female" romances about cross-cultural love written in the first decade of the twentieth century deserves closer attention because it demonstrates how the racialization of difference acted to eroticize Indian women and men in new ways, thus undermining the dominant rape script of the postmutiny period. 2

As a group, these little-known Anglo-Indian novels about cross-cultural marriages reveal some of the ideological changes at the turn of the century that undermined basic assumptions about women's sexuality and gender

-193-

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