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Science, race relations and resistanceBritain, 1870-1914$
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Douglas A. Lorimer

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719033575

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719033575.001.0001

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From colour prejudice to race relations

From colour prejudice to race relations

(p.163) Chapter Five From colour prejudice to race relations
Science, race relations and resistance

Douglas Lorimer

Manchester University Press

The language of race relations originated with the abolitionist movement. By the 1830s, the phrase ‘colour prejudice’ described a disturbing legacy of slavery. In 1837, a parliamentary commission reported on the destructive impact of colonialism on aboriginal peoples, and defended the natural rights of indigenous ‘nations’ or ‘natives’. The Aborigines Protection Society (APS) took up the cause proclaiming equality before the law of all British subjects regardless of race. For many, the philanthropists’ language was inadequate, and the case for protected but unequal status advanced along with the discourse of separate development. The APS continued to lobby for legal equality, but that equality was potential not actual, for the agency assumed colonised subjects would assimilate to Victorian civilised modernity. Institutionalised racism in democratic America invited British comparisons to caste in India. As imperialism brought the tropics into the world economy, generic terms such as ‘coloured races’, ‘non-Europeans’, and ‘non-whites’ described the global racial hierarchy of the twentieth century. By1910, a new and enduring phrase, ‘race relations’, addressed the management of inequality in the multi-racial communities created by the colonisation of aboriginal peoples, by race slavery, and by the forced and voluntary migration of colonised subjects.

Keywords:   language, anti-slavery, colour prejudice, natives, liberalism and inequality, civilised/uncivilised, race relations

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