Radhika Mohanram shows not just how British imperial culture shaped the colonies, but how the imperial rule of colonies shifted—and gave new meanings to—what it meant to be British.
Imperial White looks at literary, social, and cultural texts on the racialization of the British body and investigates British whiteness in the colonies to address such questions as: How was the whiteness in Britishness constructed by the presence of Empire? How was whiteness incorporated into the idea of masculinity? Does heterosexuality have a color? And does domestic race differ from colonial race? In addition to these inquiries on the issues of race, class, and sexuality, Mohanram effectively applies the methods of whiteness studies to British imperial material culture to critically racialize the relationship between the metropole and the peripheral colonies.
Considering whether whiteness, like theory, can travel, Mohanram also provides a new perspective on white diaspora, a phenomenon of the nineteenth century that has been largely absent in diaspora studies, ultimately rereading—and rethinking—British imperial whiteness.
Radhika Mohanram teaches postcolonial cultural studies in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University, Wales. She is the author of Black Body: Women, Colonialism, Space (Minnesota, 1999) and edits the journal Social Semiotics.