Rethinking inclusion and exclusion: the question of mixed-race presence in late colonial India

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media, Social Science on 2009-11-27 03:12Z by Steven

Rethinking inclusion and exclusion: the question of mixed-race presence in late colonial India

University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History
Issue Five
pp. 1-22

Satoshi Mizutani

This article examines the ambivalent meanings of mixed-race presence in late colonial India (from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries). In doing so it contributes insights for pursuing the theme of inclusion and exclusion in the historiography of imperialism and colonialism. Studies on the imperial politics of inclusion and exclusion have not fully explicated the complex intersections between colonial exclusion and the metropolitan bourgeois hierarchy. We still tend, rather habitually, to mould our analytic categories, according to the coloniser/colonised dichotomy. This is not at all to imply that the analytic and empirical weight of this dichotomy should be downplayed: rather, it means that the coloniser/colonised axis itself stands in need of being re-considered.

The post-Independent historiography of colonial India has attended to the internal ordering of the colonised society, so as to evaluate the correlation between colonialist exclusion and nationalist inclusion, and to research the multiplicities of racial, class, gender and caste subordination under imperialism. In contrast, less attention has been paid to the internal configuration of the coloniser’s society. As Ann Stoler has pointed out, studies of colonial societies have long tended to assume white communities and colonisers as an abstract force, comprising a seamless homogeneity of bureaucratic and commercial agents. But it is possible, as this paper will show, to challenge this conventional view in ways that address the important imbrications of ‘racial’, class and gender identities.

This paper assesses the imperial significance of mixed-race identity in order to show that the imperial formation of ‘whiteness’ was predicated on the metropolitan order of class as well as the bipolar conceptualisation of racial difference. It will seek to demonstrate how the heterogeneous subjects of British society (men, women, middle or working classes, children, as well as ‘mixed bloods’) were differentially included in, or excluded from, the imperial body politic. Pointing to this internal differentiation, however, should not be taken as an end in itself.  Rather, it should be done as a step to show how the internal hierarchies of British society had repercussions on external relations with the colonised. In other words, the analysis of the internal composition of the coloniser’s society in this paper will not be intended as a way of replacing the coloniser/colonised dichotomy, but, on the contrary, will be meant as a means precisely to re-consider it from another vantage point…

Read the entire article here.

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