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Gender and Empire$
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Philippa Levine

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199249503

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199249503.001.0001

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Empire, Gender, and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century

Empire, Gender, and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.14) 2 Empire, Gender, and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century
Source:
Gender and Empire
Author(s):

Kathleen Wilson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199249503.003.0002

This chapter examines the centrality of gender to British dominion and British modernity and to the categories of difference that Empire claimed to have ‘discovered’, vindicated, and sustained. Gender is not a synonym for women; neither is it a ‘fact’ of the past (or present) awaiting discovery. Historians have argued that gender was both a relation of power and a way of signifying relationships of power that produced and orchestrated the changing meanings of sexual difference in time, shaping social institutions, privileges, expectations, and experience. Gender was also a means of marking the body for cultural ends in 18th-century Europe, where vision was held to be an increasingly important way of ascertaining reality.

Keywords:   British dominion, Empire, gender, the body, historians, power, Europe

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