Kathryn Gleadle

in Borderline Citizens

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780197264492
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734274 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs


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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This book has shown how women occupied an enduring but peripheral location within the contemporary political imagination in Britain. Their status within the world of public politics remained problematic throughout this period — even in campaigns apparently deemed suitable for female activism, such as anti-slavery. Family identities, moreover, remained crucial to the positioning of women as political subjects. In the years between the ending of the war with France in 1815 and the second Reform Act in 1867, there were gathering opportunities for female political engagement. However, these shifts occurred in complex ways. although there were many ‘losses’ for women in this period — such as the ending of freewomen's rights, the decline in parochial authority, and the decreasing significance of patronage networks — we have also seen how the seeds of change emerged. Women's political subjectivity was always in the making. Yet women remained borderline citizens whose ability to imagine themselves unambiguously as forthright political actors was continually compromised by the pull of conflicting discursive currents and the instability of their ambivalent political status.

Keywords: Britain; women; public politics; borderline citizens; slavery; family; political subjectivity; political engagement

Chapter.  4147 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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