Barbara Bush
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‘Britain’s conscience on Africa’
White women, race and imperial politics in inter-war Britain
in Gender and imperialism
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This chapter addresses the African context that defined the issues around which activism developed. It examines women who were more directly involved in left-wing or liberal pressure group activities in Britain, highlighting individuals such as Nancy Cunard, Winifred Holtby and Sylvia Pankhurst. The chapter presents the evaluation of relationships between white women and black men in progressing debate over the 'colour problem' in Britain and the Empire. While the majority of white women activists did not overtly breach sex/race taboos, the minority who did added a new dimension to race and imperial politics in inter-war Britain. The inter-war years saw a new genre of travel writing by independent, 'emancipated' women. While the African hinterland provided the context for female activism, however, it was London, the junction-box of empire that became the centre of political activity, both pro- and anti-imperialist.

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