The dramatic story of Mehdi Hasan and Ellen Donnelly, whose marriage convulsed high society in nineteenth-century India and whose notorious trial and fall reverberated throughout the British Empire, setting the benchmark for Victorian scandals.
In April 1892, a damning pamphlet circulated in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, the capital of the largest and wealthiest princely state in the British Raj. An anonymous writer charged Mehdi Hasan, an aspiring Muslim lawyer from the north, and Ellen Donnelly, his Indian-born British wife, with gross sexual misconduct and deception. The scandal that ensued sent shock waves from Calcutta to London. Who wrote this pamphlet, and was it true?
Mehdi and Ellen had risen rapidly among Hyderabad’s elites. On a trip to London they even met Queen Victoria. Not long after, a scurrilous pamphlet addressed to “the ladies of Hyderabad” charged the couple with propagating a sham marriage for personal gain. Ellen, it was claimed, had been a prostitute, and Mehdi was accused of making his wife available to men who could advance his career. To avenge his wife and clear his name, Mehdi filed suit against the pamphlet’s printer, prompting a trial that would alter their lives.
Based on private letters, courtroom transcripts, secret government reports, and scathing newspaper accounts, Benjamin Cohen’s riveting reconstruction of the couple’s trial and tribulations lays bare the passions that ran across racial lines and the intimate betrayals that doomed the Hasans. Filled with accusations of midnight trysts and sexual taboos, An Appeal to the Ladies of Hyderabad is a powerful reminder of the perils facing those who tried to rewrite society’s rules. In the struggle of one couple, it exposes the fault lines that would soon tear a world apart.
Winner of the 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize
Winner of the 2016 American Historical Association’s Wesley-Logan Prize in African diaspora
Finalist for the 2016 Fage and Oliver Prize from the African Studies Association of the UK
Interracial sex mattered to the British colonial state in West Africa. In Crossing the Color Line, Carina E. Ray goes beyond this fact to reveal how Ghanaians shaped and defined these powerfully charged relations. The interplay between African and European perspectives and practices, argues Ray, transformed these relationships into key sites for consolidating colonial rule and for contesting its hierarchies of power. With rigorous methodology and innovative analyses, Ray brings Ghana and Britain into a single analytic frame to show how intimate relations between black men and white women in the metropole became deeply entangled with those between black women and white men in the colony in ways that were profoundly consequential.
Based on rich archival evidence and original interviews, the book moves across different registers, shifting from the micropolitics of individual disciplinary cases brought against colonial officers who “kept” local women to transatlantic networks of family, empire, and anticolonial resistance. In this way, Ray cuts to the heart of how interracial sex became a source of colonial anxiety and nationalist agitation during the first half of the twentieth century.
In the tumultuous decades after the Civil War, as the southern white elite reclaimed power, “racial mixing” was the central concern of segregationists who strove to maintain “racial purity.” Segregation—and race itself—was based on the idea that interracial sex posed a biological threat to the white race. In this groundbreaking study, Charles Robinson examines how white southerners enforced anti-miscegenation laws. His findings challenge conventional wisdom, documenting a pattern of selective prosecution under which interracial domestic relationships were punished even more harshly than transient sexual encounters. Robinson shows that the real crime was to suggest that black and white individuals might be equals, a notion which undermined the legitimacy of the economic, political, and social structure of white male supremacy.
Robinson examines legal cases from across the South, considering both criminal prosecutions brought by states and civil disputes over marital and family assets. He also looks at U.S. Supreme Court decisions, debates in state legislatures, comments in the U.S. Congressional Record, and newspaper editorials. He not only shows the hardening of racial categories but assesses the attitudes of African Americans about anti-miscegenation laws and intermarriage. The epilogue concerns “The Demise of Anti-miscegenation Law” including the case of Richard and Mildred Loving.
Dangerous Liaisons vividly documents the regulation of intimacy and its fundamental role in the construction of race.
Europe’s imperial projects were often predicated on a series of legal and scientific distinctions that were frequently challenged by the reality of social and sexual interactions between the colonized and the colonizers.When Emmanuelle Saada discovered a 1928 decree defining the status of persons of mixed parentage born in French Indochina—the métis—she found not only a remarkable artifact of colonial rule, but a legal bombshell that introduced race into French law for the first time. The decree was the culmination of a decades-long effort to resolve the “métis question”: the educational, social, and civil issues surrounding the mixed population. Operating at the intersection of history, anthropology, and law, Empire’s Children reveals the unacknowledged but central role of race in the definition of French nationality.
Through extensive archival work in both France and Vietnam, and a close reading of primary and secondary material from the Pacific islands and sub-Saharan and North Africa, Saada has created in Empire’s Children an original and compelling perspective on colonialism, law, race, and culture from the end of the nineteenth century until decolonization.
An intensely dramatic true story, Forsaking All Others recounts the fascinating case of an interracial couple who attempted, in defiance of
society’s laws and conventions, to formalize their relationship in the post-Reconstruction South. It was an affair with tragic consequences, one that entangled the protagonists in a miscegenation trial and, ultimately, a desperate act of revenge.
From the mid-1870s to the early 1880s, Isaac Bankston was the proud sheriff of Desha County, Arkansas, a man so prominent and popular that he won five consecutive terms in office. Although he was married with two children, around 1881 he entered into a relationship with Missouri Bradford, an African American woman who bore his child. Some two years later, Missouri and Isaac absconded
to Memphis, hoping to begin a new life there together. Although Tennessee lawmakers had made miscegenation a felony, Isaac’s dark complexion enabled the couple to apply successfully for a marriage license and take their vows. Word of the marriage quickly spread, however, and Missouri and Isaac were charged with unlawful cohabitation. An attorney from Desha County, James Coates, came to Memphis to act as special prosecutor in the case. Events then took a surprising turn as Isaac chose to deny his white heritage in order to escape conviction. Despite this victory in court, however, Isaac had been publicly disgraced, and his sense of honor propelled him into a violent confrontation with Coates, the man he considered most responsible for his downfall. Charles F. Robinson uses Missouri and Isaac’s story to examine key aspects of post-Reconstruction society, from the rise of miscegenation laws and the particular burdens they placed on anyone who chose to circumvent them, to the southern codes of honor that governed both social and individual behavior, especially among white men. But most of all, the book offers a compelling personal narrative with important implications for our supposedly more
The intersection of race and sex in Latin America is a subject touched upon by many disciplines but this is the first book to deal solely with these issues.
Interracial sexual relations are often a key mythic basis for Latin American national identities, but the importance of this has been underexplored. Peter Wade provides a pioneering overview of the growing literature on race and sex in the region, covering historical aspects and contemporary debates. He includes both black and indigenous people in the frame, as well as mixed and white people, avoiding the implication that "race" means "black-white" relations.
Challenging but accessible, this book will appeal across the humanities and social sciences, particularly to students of anthropology, gender studies, history and Latin American studies.
In November 2001, the state of Alabama opened a referendum on its long-standing constitutional prohibition against interracial marriage. A bill on the state ballot offered the opportunity to relegate the state's antimiscegenation law to the dustbin of history. The measure passed, but the margin was alarmingly slim: more than half a million voters, 40 percent of those who went to the polls, voted to retain a racist and constitutionally untenable law.
Julie Novkov's Racial Union explains how and why, nearly forty years after the height of the civil rights movement, Alabama struggled to repeal its prohibition against interracial marriage---the last state in the Union to do so. Novkov's compelling history of Alabama's battle over miscegenation shows how the fight shaped the meanings of race and state over ninety years. Novkov's work tells us much about the sometimes parallel, sometimes convergent evolution of our concepts of race and state in the nation as a whole.
"A remarkably nuanced account of interlocked struggles over race, gender, class and state power. Novkov's site is Alabama, but her insights are for all America."
---Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
"Hannah Arendt shocked Americans in the 1950s by suggesting that interracial intimacy was the true measure of a society's racial order. Julie Novkov's careful, illuminating, powerful book confirms Arendt's judgment. By ruling on who may be sexually linked with whom, Alabama's courts and legislators created a racial order and even a broad political order; Novkov shows us just how it worked in all of its painful, humiliating power."
---Jennifer L. Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harvard College Professor
Latin America is characterized by a uniquely rich history of cultural and racial mixtures known collectively as mestizaje. These mixtures reflect the influences of indigenous peoples from Latin America, Europeans, and Africans, and spawn a fascinating and often volatile blend of cultural practices and products. Yet no scholarly study to date has provided an articulate context for fully appreciating and exploring the profound effects of distinct local invocations of syncretism and hybridity. Rise and Fall of the Cosmic Race fills this void by charting the history of Latin America's experience of mestizaje through the prisms of literature, the visual and performing arts, social commentary, and music.
In accessible, jargon-free prose, Marilyn Grace Miller brings to life the varied perspectives of a vast region in a tour that stretches from Mexico and the Caribbean to Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina. She explores the repercussions of mestizo identity in the United States and reveals the key moments in the story of Latin America's cult of synthesis. Rise and Fall of the Cosmic Race examines the inextricable links between aesthetics and politics, and unravels the threads of colonialism woven throughout national narratives in which mestizos serve as primary protagonists.
Illuminating the ways in which regional engagements with mestizaje represent contentious sites of nation building and racial politics, Miller uncovers a rich and multivalent self-portrait of Latin America's diverse populations.
In the United States miscegenation is not merely a subject of literature and popular culture. It is in many ways the foundation of contemporary imaginary community. The Romance of Race examines the role of minority women writers and reformers in the creation of our modern American multiculturalism.
The national identity of the United States was transformed between 1880 and 1930 due to mass immigration, imperial expansion, the rise of Jim Crow, and the beginning of the suffrage movement. A generation of women writers and reformers—particularly women of color—contributed to these debates by imagining new national narratives that put minorities at the center of American identity. Jane Addams, Pauline Hopkins, Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), María Cristina Mena, and Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) embraced the images of the United States—and increasingly the world—as an interracial nuclear family. They also reframed public debates through narratives depicting interracial encounters as longstanding, unacknowledged liaisons between white men and racialized women that produced an incestuous, mixed-race nation.
By mobilizing the sexual taboos of incest and miscegenation, these women writers created political allegories of kinship and community. Through their criticisms of the nation’s history of exploitation and colonization, they also imagined a more inclusive future. As Jolie A. Sheffer identifies the contemporary template for American multiculturalism in the works of turn-of-the century minority writers, she uncovers a much more radical history than has previously been considered.
"An unusual and powerful study."--Eric R. Wolf, Herbert H. Lehman College, CUNY
"A profound study of the nebulous Creoles. . . . Domínguez's use of original sources . . . is scholarship at its best. . . . Her study is fascinating, thought-provoking, controversial, and without a doubt, one of the most objective analyses of Creole Louisiana. Her emphasis on social stratification and her excellent integration of ethnic and racial classification of Creoles with legal and social dynamics and individual choice of ethnic identity elucidates strikingly the continuing controversy of who and what is a Louisiana Creole."--Journal of American Ethnic History
"Domínguez's most important contribution lies in her conceptualization of the problem of identity. She treats ethnic identity as something that can change over time, warning us against imposing current meanings on the past and requiring us to consider evidence of how terms were actually used in the past. . . . It is hard to imagine a frame of reference more ideally suited to historical analysis."--Louisiana History
"A valuable interdisciplinary examination of the processes of racial definition in Louisiana's history. Her study combines the anthropologist's sensitivity to language and self definition within a community with a skillful exploitation of historical sources."--Law and Society
"I highly recommend this book to all persons interested in social stratification."--Alvin L. Bertrand, Contemporary Sociology
"A vivid and insightful reading of the historical circumstances that have shaped definitions of Creoles within Louisiana law and society."--Journal of Southern History
"A provocative, often brilliant book. It offers fresh perspectives on fundamental questions and deserves a wide readership among American social historians."--Journal of American History
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