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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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Imperial contradictions: assimilation and separate development

Imperial contradictions: assimilation and separate development

(p.17) Chapter Two Imperial contradictions: assimilation and separate development
Science, race relations and resistance

Douglas Lorimer

Manchester University Press

In 1837, as Queen Victoria‘s reign commenced liberal imperialism, the anti-slavery movement and foreign missions championed a civilising mission. The goal was assimilation of the heathen and uncivilised to civilised, Victorian standards of modernity. By 1901, surviving abolitionists realised that racial oppression had grown larger in extent and more divers in form, yet their public was largely unresponsive to their appeals. As the inflated expectations of liberal progress, emancipation and conversion were not realised, after 1870, an alternative discourse of racial exclusion and separate development became the dominant though never the singular view. This racialism did not depend upon a crude biological determinism, but upon an ambiguous and toxic mix of race and culture. Some advocates of separate development advanced a degree of cultural relativism, but more commonly they supported new racist practices in the United States, sanctioned the white dominions’ racial exclusions, and forecast that the imagined ‘black peril’ in South Africa might infect the United Kingdom. This transformation occurred when the professional production of knowledge created new authoritative voices ready to affirm that the racial hierarchy of empire accorded to the dictates of nature.

Keywords:   imperial contradictions, civilising mission, assimilation, Greater Britain, separate development, black peril

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