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Title:Circuits of imperial citizenship: Indian print culture and the politics of race, 1890-1914
Author(s):Spector-Marks, Irina
Director of Research:Burton, Antoinette
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Burton, Antoinette
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Barnes, Teresa; Brennan, James R.; Hofmeyr, Isabel; Rabin, Dana
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
British empire
Imperial citizenship
Print culture
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Settler colonialism
Abstract:At the turn of the twentieth century, Indian immigrants throughout the British empire faced a rise in discriminatory legislation. They responded by asserting that as imperial citizens, Indians should be treated equally with white British subjects. Although imperial citizenship had no fixed legal meaning, Indian activists invoked imperial citizenship as a legal status and as an identity that carried racial and civilizational overtones. Through a close reading of iterations of imperial citizenship across a wide range of print culture sources, I show how imperial citizenship, although ostensibly race-blind, was an implicitly racialized discourse. Based on research from archives in Ottawa, Vancouver, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, and London, I map how the discourse of imperial citizenship circulated across the empire in a transnational print sphere of periodicals, pamphlets, and petitions. By focusing on the work of activists in Canada and South Africa, I explore the ways in which local political and racial contexts precluded the potential for material forms of transnational collaboration. My dissertation nuances the “transnational turn” in the humanities by emphasizing the role of local factors in shaping larger global politics. By analyzing both the discourse of imperial citizenship and the material production and dissemination of that discourse, this dissertation argues that diasporic Indians navigated the global color line by aspiring to whiteness in the name of an imperial citizenship that was founded on racial discrimination while purporting to stand for equality and justice. By bringing together scholarship on citizenship, empire, immigration, and whiteness, my research reveals the complex and contradictory development of anti-racist politics in the early twentieth century.
Issue Date:2017-04-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Irina Spector-Marks
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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