Northwestern University

Thu 12:00 PM

Colonial Cassandras? Feminizing Imperial Critique from East Africa to Britain

When: Thursday, April 7, 2016
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM  

Where: 1902 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Elizabeth Morrissey  

Group: Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


EDGS Rajawali Speaker Series: "Comparative Empires in the International History of the Modern Era"

Elizabeth Prevost, Grinnell College

Elizabeth Prevost is a historian of modern Britain and the empire, specializing in gender and religion in colonial Africa. Having earned her PhD at Northwestern in 2006, she now teaches at Grinnell College. She is the author of The Communion of Women: Missions and Gender in Colonial Africa and the British Metropole (Oxford, 2010).

British imperialism rested on a delicate balance of securing cooperation and suppressing dissent, but resistance sometimes emerged from unlikely quarters. This talk will tell the stories of three British women working in colonial East Africa – a missionary in 1880s Madagascar, a doctor in 1920s Uganda, and a rehabilitation officer in 1950s Kenya – who spoke out against what they saw as imperial abuses of power against women. All three had brief but first-hand experience on the ground that they used to lobby progressive allies in the metropole. But although it is tempting to interpret their revolt as a principled stance against patriarchy and empire, their critiques had a professional basis that demanded the reform rather than the end of imperial trusteeship. Capturing three manifestations of European expansion and consolidation (religious, medical, and military) at three moments of rapid change and disruption (European partition, interwar welfare and development, and postwar nationalism and counter-insurgency), these women’s stories can probe the connection between the gendered and the racialized basis of both colonial and anti-colonial politics, and pose instructive questions about how to write the personal and the political, the experiential and the discursive, into a single frame of imperial history.

*lunch included

co-sponsored by Program of African Studies

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