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Other titles in the New Cultural Studies series:

The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture (New Cultural Studies)

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The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture (New Cultural Studies) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

""The Complexion of Race" marks a decisive break with literary history's binary version of eighteenth-century British radical thought."--"Journal of Social History"

Book News Annotation:

Wheeler (English, Ohio State U.) compares Enlightenment science's speculations on human variety in natural history with accounts in civil histories, travel literature, and fiction, finding that black skin was not the most damning characteristic used by Brits to elevate themselves above the colonized. While Brits did prize paleness, Wheeler shows that in the writings of the time darker people could be redeemed by Christian conversion, British apparel, consumption of English commodities, and marriage to a European. Such a conception should be seen next to Hannah Arendt's assertion in Imperialism that when Europeans first saw darker peoples in Africa and South America, Europeans believed themselves superior not because of color but because these non-Europeans "behaved like a part of nature, that they treated nature as their undisputed master." Showing the coexistence of two systems of racialization, Wheeler detects that point at which the older order, based primarily on the division between Christian and heathen, gave way to a division based on color.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In the 1723 Journal of a Voyage up the Gambia, an English narrator describes the native translators vital to the expedition's success as being Black as Coal. Such a description of dark skin color was not unusual for eighteenth-century Britons--but neither was the statement that followed: here, thro' Custom, (being Christians) they account themselves White Men. The Complexion of Race asks how such categories would have been possible, when and how such statements came to seem illogical, and how our understanding of the eighteenth century has been distorted by the imposition of nineteenth and twentieth century notions of race on an earlier period.Wheeler traces the emergence of skin color as a predominant marker of identity in British thought and juxtaposes the Enlightenment's scientific speculation on the biology of race with accounts in travel literature, fiction, and other documents that remain grounded in different models of human variety. As a consequence of a burgeoning empire in the second half of the eighteenth century, English writers were increasingly preoccupied with differentiating the British nation from its imperial outposts by naming traits that set off the rulers from the ruled; although race was one of these traits, it was by no means the distinguishing one. In the fiction of the time, non-European characters could still be redeemed by baptism or conversion and the British nation could embrace its mixed-race progeny. In Wheeler's eighteenth century we see the coexistence of two systems of racialization and to detect a moment when an older order, based on the division between Christian and heathen, gives way to a new one based on the assertion of difference between black and white.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812217223
Author:
Wheeler, Roxann
Publisher:
University of Pennsylvania Press
Location:
Philadelphia :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
History
Subject:
Ethnology
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Social history
Subject:
Race awareness
Subject:
English fiction
Subject:
Race in literature
Subject:
Difference
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain - General
Subject:
English fiction -- 18th century.
Subject:
World History-England General
Edition Description:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Series:
New Cultural Studies
Series Volume:
168-99
Publication Date:
20000631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.00x6.00x.85 in. 1.24 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture (New Cultural Studies) New Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages University of Pennsylvania Press - English 9780812217223 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In the 1723 Journal of a Voyage up the Gambia, an English narrator describes the native translators vital to the expedition's success as being Black as Coal. Such a description of dark skin color was not unusual for eighteenth-century Britons--but neither was the statement that followed: here, thro' Custom, (being Christians) they account themselves White Men. The Complexion of Race asks how such categories would have been possible, when and how such statements came to seem illogical, and how our understanding of the eighteenth century has been distorted by the imposition of nineteenth and twentieth century notions of race on an earlier period.Wheeler traces the emergence of skin color as a predominant marker of identity in British thought and juxtaposes the Enlightenment's scientific speculation on the biology of race with accounts in travel literature, fiction, and other documents that remain grounded in different models of human variety. As a consequence of a burgeoning empire in the second half of the eighteenth century, English writers were increasingly preoccupied with differentiating the British nation from its imperial outposts by naming traits that set off the rulers from the ruled; although race was one of these traits, it was by no means the distinguishing one. In the fiction of the time, non-European characters could still be redeemed by baptism or conversion and the British nation could embrace its mixed-race progeny. In Wheeler's eighteenth century we see the coexistence of two systems of racialization and to detect a moment when an older order, based on the division between Christian and heathen, gives way to a new one based on the assertion of difference between black and white.
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