Reading Ann Stoler…

I’m just reading some of the work of Ann Stoler for my monograph on ‘race’, gender and the body in British immigration control history (see here for more details) and thought that these brief quotes really spoke to what I’m trying to do with the book…


“Colonialism was not a secure bourgeois project. It was not only about the importation of middle-class sensibilities, but about the making of them… [T[he distinctions of defining bourgeois sexuality were played out against not only the bodies of an immoral European working class and native Other, but against those of destitute whites in the colonies and in dubious contrast to an ambiguous population of mixed-blood origin…” (pp. 99-100)

“The cultivation of the European bourgeois self in the colonies, that ‘body to be cared for, protected, cultivated, and preserved from the many dangers and contacts…’ required other bodies that would perform those nurturing services, provide the leisure for such self-absorbed administerings and self-bolstering acts. It was a gendered body and a dependent one, on an intimate set of exploitative sexual and service relations between European men and native women, between European women and native men, shaped by the sexual politics of class and race. Those native women who served as concubines, servants, nursemaids and wives in European colonial households not only defined what distinguished bourgeois life: they threatened that ‘differential value’ of adult and children’s bourgeois bodies that they were to protect and affirm.” (p. 111)

“The self-affirmation of white, middle-class colonials thus embodied a set of fundamental tensions between a culture of whiteness that cordoned itself off from the native world and a set of domestic arrangements and class distinctions among European that produced cultural hybridities and sympathies that repeatedly transgressed these distinctions.” (p. 112)

Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1995)

Also on the reading list for the section on the colonial origins of the ‘virginity testing’ controversy:

Kenneth Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class Under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and Their Critics, 1793-1905 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1980)

Meredith Borthwick, The Changing Role of Women in the Bengal 1849-1905 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984)

Antoinette Burton, Burdens of History: British Feminists, Indian Women and Imperial Culture, 1865-1915 (Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1994)

Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience (Manchester: Manchester University Press: 1990)

Philippa Levine, Prostitution, Race and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire (New York & London: Routledge, 2003)

Philippa Levine, ‘Sexuality and Empire’, in Catherine Hall & Sonya O. Rose, At Home with the Empire: Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) pp. 122-142

Lata Mani, Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1998)

Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (New York & London: Routledge, 1995)

Angela Woollacott, Gender and Empire (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Any other suggestions for ‘must-read’ in this area?

2 responses to “Reading Ann Stoler…”

  1. Have you perhaps got a clue on where Ann Laura Stoler is from? I have looked everywhere but so far still can’t find any info about it. She writes about everything, her sister too (but a little less geographically wide), and these make it even easier to know her origins. Or would you think that that is some sort of a principle of not showing her identity, blurring the boundaries of the identity as heritage of place, and re-writing identity by writing about all places in the world?

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