Chapter

In darkest England

John Marriott

in The Other Empire

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719060182
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700341 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719060182.003.0007
In darkest England

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This chapter puts forward the idea of racial theory. The pioneering Henry Mayhew borrowed freely from contemporary racial theory, and putative logic was undermined by the plurality of empirical material on the experience of the poor recorded in the corpus of his work. The trope of racialization locates shifts in the construction of the poor within the imperial formation, and provides a more satisfactory explanation of their chronology and nature than those focusing exclusively on domestic politics and social policy. The chapter explores the workings of this symbolic process. To understand the active construction of racial identities in this period, there is a need to go beyond the convention of identifying characteristics of racial stereotyping, to an investigation of the subtle and powerful mechanisms through which they were created. The chapter also considers how modernist impulses transformed the discursive realm of the poor. Toward the end of the century anonymous crowds from an unknown abyss surfaced upon the urban landscape; race, however, remained the principal referent.

Keywords: racial theory; Henry Mayhew; imperial formation; social policy; racial identities; modernist impulses; racialization; racial stereotyping

Chapter.  12669 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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