stated legal purpose and in effect provided a set of norms and forms
for the society to adhere to. 4 This was particularly effective with the
rising Bengali middle classes, who were formed in the terrain of
colonial rule. One such law, perhaps the most hegemonically charged,
is the AgeofConsent Act of 1891. This chapter explores this
act’s ideologically hegemonic dimensions with respect to the
The ageofconsent, 1992–2018
Albert Reynolds’s strategy for a peace process
On becoming Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds was a few months shy of his sixtieth
birthday. A self-made businessman, he had come relatively late to national
politics, being forty-four years old when elected in 1977 as part of Fianna Fáil’s
landslide majority. His intimate role as a member of the ‘Gang of Five’ that
helped dislodge Jack Lynch in favour of Charles Haughey paid dividends; he was
immediately promoted to ministerial rank after Haughey’s election in December
1979, and by 1988 he
This book is about the processes and practices through which two differently positioned elites, among the colonisers and the colonised, were constituted respectively as the 'manly Englishman' and the 'effeminate Bengali'. It argues that the emerging dynamics between colonial and nationalist politics in the 1880s and 1890s in India is best captured in the logic of colonial masculinity. The figures of the 'manly Englishman' and the 'effeminate Bengali' were thus constituted in relation to colonial Indian society as well as to some aspects of late nineteenth-century British society. These aspects of late nineteenth-century British society are the emergence of the 'New Woman', the 'remaking of the working class', the legacy of 'internal colonialism', and the anti-feminist backlash of the 1880s and 1890s. A sustained focus on the imperial constitution of colonial masculinity, therefore, serves also to refine the standard historical scholarship on nineteenth-century British masculinity. The book traces the impact of colonial masculinity in four specific controversies: the 'white mutiny' against the Ilbert Bill in 1883, the official government response to the Native Volunteer movement in 1885, the recommendations of the Public Service Commission of 1886, and the Indian opposition to the Age of Consent Bill in 1891. In this book, the author situates the analysis very specifically in the context of an imperial social formation. In doing so, the author examines colonial masculinity not only in the context of social forces within India, but also as framed by and framing political, economic, and ideological shifts in Britain.
The operation of the British model of imperialism was never consistent, seldom coherent, and far from comprehensive. Purity campaigns, controversies about the age of consent, the regulation of prostitution and passage and repeal of contagious diseases laws, as well as a new legislative awareness of homosexuality, were all part of the sexual currency of the late Victorian age. Colonial governments, institutions and companies recognised that in many ways the effective operation of the Empire depended upon sexual arrangements. They devised elaborate systems of sexual governance, but also devoted disproportionate energy to marking and policing the sexual margins. This book not only investigates controversies surrounding prostitution, homosexuality and the age of consent in the British Empire, but also revolutionises people's notions about the importance of sex as a nexus of imperial power relations. The derivative hypothesis, which reads colonial sexuality politics as something England did or gave to its colonies, is illustrated and made explicit by the Indian Spectator, which seemed simply to accept that India should follow English precedent. In 1885, the South Australian parliament passed legislation, similar to England's Criminal Law Amendment Act, which raised the age of consent from 13 to 16 and introduced a series of restrictions and regulations on sexual conduct. Richard Francis Burton's case against the moral universalism and sex between men are discussed. 'Cognitively mapping' sexuality politics, the book has traced connections between people, places and politics, exploring both their dangers and opportunities, which revolve in each case around embroilments in global power.
Gender history is more than the recovery of women's pasts and inclusion of female experiences into history. This book brings together two traditionally separate areas of historical literature: writings on women and gender on the one hand, and scholarship on British imperialism and colonialism on the other. It marks an important new intervention into a vibrant area of scholarship, creating a dialogue between the histories of imperialism and of women and gender. By engaging critically with both traditional British imperial history and colonial discourse analysis, the book demonstrates how feminist historians can play a central role in creating new histories of British imperialism. The first part of the book offers new perspectives on the nature of British imperial power through exploring the gender dimensions of the imposition of British control. It discusses study of the age of consent, body of scholarship, and British women missionaries in India. The second part talks about the gender dimensions of a spectrum of reactions to British imperialism. The focus is on colonising women and the colonized women. The third part switches from colonial contexts to explore the impact of imperialism within Britain itself. It presents both the anti-slavery discourse constructed by women anti-slavery campaigners and the 'triple discourse' of anti-slavery in early feminist tracts of 1790 to 1869 as marking key roots of the 'imperial feminism'. Finally, the inter-war period is explored focusing on the under-researched area of white women's involvement in imperial politics and race issues.
Australian activists on the age of consent and prostitution
essential or stable definition of or vision for imperialism. Both complications conspire to
render sexuality politics politically ambiguous. For example, some would say the increased
ageofconsent in India or Australia buttressed and legitimated English hegemony by
universalising English laws and ethics and by variously drawing people away from pre-colonial
affiliations and producing the socio-sexual building-blocks of a new colonial order. Others,
however, would say that the increased ageofconsent weakened Britain’s imperial
Many patterns in the imperial map of regulation and
resistance, including changes to laws such as the ageofconsent, appear to suggest that
initiatives spread outwards from England to other parts of the Empire, colonies following
precedents through voluntary imitation (by responsible or other forms of semi-autonomous
colonial government) or imposition (where more direct systems of government were in place).
Recall, for example, that the age was raised from 13 to 16 in England and Wales in 1885, a
rise that was
rights. In this respect, Hague could point to his own record
as having voted to equalise the ageofconsent at sixteen for homosexual and heterosexual acts. He also sent a message of support to a Gay Pride event and publicly
rebuked members of the ‘old guard’ such as Norman Tebbit who criticised his stance
on homosexual rights and multiculturalism. In his first conference speech as leader,
Hague noted his wish to lead ‘a new, united, inclusive, democratic, de-centralised,
and open party’. He spoke of his desire to articulate ‘an open conservatism, that is
in 1885, the recommendations of the Public Service Commission of 1886,
and the Indian opposition to the AgeofConsent Bill in 1891.
The argument of the book proceeds from two basic
assumptions. The first is that the categories of the coloniser and
colonised are not fixed or self-evident categories. 1 Although these categories may
appear to have represented ‘natural’ differences of race or
This study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, neglected, illegitimate and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to ‘cherish’ and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, breaking new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens. In foregrounding policy and practice as it related to poor, illegitimate and abused children, the book gives voice to historical actors who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population but who have been ignored and marginalized in the historical record. Moreover, it uses the experiences of those children as lenses through which to re-evaluate the Catholic influence in post-independence Irish society. The historiography on church and state in modern Ireland tends to emphasise the formal means through which the church sought to ensure that Irish social policy was infused with Catholic principles. While it is almost cliché to suggest that the Catholic Church exerted influence over many aspects of Irish life, there have been few attempts to examine what this meant in practical terms. The book offers a different interpretation of the relationship between and among the Catholic Church, the political establishment and Irish people.