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Migration and Empire$
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Marjory Harper and Stephen Constantine

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250936.001.0001

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A Civilizing Influence? The Female Migrant

A Civilizing Influence? The Female Migrant

(p.212) 8 A Civilizing Influence? The Female Migrant
Migration and Empire

Marjory Harper

Stephen Constantine

Oxford University Press

Social expectations largely explain why UK emigrants and others, including indentured workers, were disproportionately male. Many women who did migrate, including immigrants into the UK, were accompanying or following husbands or other male family members, though some, especially from the UK, were single women, unable or unwilling to satisfy gendered expectations at home. They faced in their new homes the challenge of preserving or adapting their inherited cultural practices. Some observers were concerned about the moral as well as demographic consequences of unbalanced sex ratios in colonies of white settlement and in the empire's plantation and mining regions. Accordingly, philanthropists, bothered also about unmarried ‘surplus women’ in the UK, launched controversial programmes, often government‐subsidized, to increase the flows of such single women to white settler colonies, ostensibly as domestic servants or governesses, but also as potential marriage partners.

Keywords:   domestic servants, gender, governesses, indentured workers, marriage, philanthropy, sex ratios, surplus women

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