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By Eamon Wright (auth.)

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Extra info for British Women Writers and Race, 1788–1818: Narrations of Modernity

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The ideological undercurrent here, in which difference is produced, maintained, sustained and valorized, is socially malevolent. It is clearly Politics of Population: Empire, Slavery and Race 35 more than, say, being hungry. Being hungry is being hungry: being poor, or a pauper, is a social definition of that condition. The subject is accordingly objectified and weeded, physically or mentally, from the rest of the population. This highlights the role of social class, and the governmental power relations in its orbit.

74 The racialized gloss of her commentary is arresting. 76 Malik contends that it was through the naturalization of inequality that social difference, particularly racial, was constructed. Through this lens we see that ‘difference’, ‘inequality’ and ‘race’ were integral features in the making of the working classes. The fracture here, indeed fault line, of modernity under the auspices of Enlightenment, is to be found in the ideological use of ‘nature’ as the explicator of perennial difference. The highly provocative text by Malik, however, which makes explicit connections between the tensions found within Enlightenment thought around the thesis of equality and the racialization of poverty and the poor, strangely fails to mention the Reverend Thomas Malthus.

65 The theoretical contention in this present study is that British women writers, whose very presence in the literary marketplace was political, contributed to the production and promotion of ‘race thought’ during the period in question, from the late 1780s to the late 1810s. It is to be recognized that both the ‘feminism’ and the dynamics of ‘race’ have The Romantic Period, Race and Enlightened Feminism 15 been relatively unexplored in the period, are largely absent from social theory and historiography and are, therefore, ripe for analysis.

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