Description - Allegories of Empire by Jenny Sharpe
In "Allegories of Empire", Jenny Sharpe brings the historical memory of the 1857 Indian Mutiny to bear upon the theme of rape in British and Anglo-Indian fiction. She argues that the idea of Indian men raping white women was not part of the colonial landscape prior to the revolt that was remembered as the savage attack of mutinous Indian soldiers on defenceless English women. Through careful reading and analysis, Sharpe reveals the English woman as an important cultural figure in the articulation and establishment of a colonial hierarchy of race. "Allegories of Empire" is a postcolonial critical work that analyzes colonial discourse through feminist criticism and post-orientalist historiography. Sharpe argues that the absence or negation of Indian women is an important element of colonial discourse. At the same time, she insists that there is no alternative narrative to recover in its entirety. By showing how contemporary theories of female agency are implicated in an imperial past, Sharpe makes the case that such models are inappropriate, not only for discussion of colonized women, but for European women as well.
Feminist theory needs to begin from difference and dislocation rather than from identity and correspondence if it is to get beyond the race-gender-class impasse. The strength of Sharpe's work lies in its introduction of race and colonialism to feminist theories of rape and sexual difference, and her deployment of women's writing to undo the appropriation of English (universal) womanhood for the perpetuation of Empire. Jenny Sharpe has contributed articles to "Modern Fiction Studies", "Genders", and "Boundary 2". This book is intended for feminist studies, literary theory, South Asian studies.
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University of Minnesota Press
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