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Cultures of empire in the tropics

Masters and servants explores the politics of colonial mastery and domestic servitude in the neighbouring British tropical colonies of Singapore and Darwin. Like other port cities throughout Southeast Asia, Darwin and Singapore were crossroads where goods, ideas, cultures and people from the surrounding regions mixed and mingled via the steam ships lines. The focus of this book is on how these connections produced a common tropical colonial culture in these sites. A key element of this shared culture was the presence of a multiethnic entourage of domestic servants in colonial homes and a common preference for Chinese ‘houseboys’. Through an exploration of master-servant relationships within British, white Australian and Chinese homes, this book illustrates the centrality of the domestic realm to the colonial project. The colonial home was a contact zone which brought together European colonists, non-white migrants and Indigenous people, most often through the domestic service relationship. Rather than a case of unquestioned mastery and devoted servitude, relationships between masters and servants had the potential not only to affirm but also destabilise the colonial hierarchy. The intimacies, antagonisms and anxieties of the relationships between masters and servants provide critical insights into the dynamics of colonial power with the British empire.

Claire Lowrie

detailed examination of the decline of Chinese ‘houseboys’ in Darwin and Singapore, this chapter has illustrated how local, transcolonial and global political forces shaped the structure of domestic service the tropics. In Singapore, the politicisation of Chinese men in the context of the Chinese Revolution of 1911–12 and the development of radical Chinese nationalism likely encouraged

in Masters and servants
Abstract only
Frances Steel

an important line of enquiry, but in Oceania under steam I also open up an historical analysis of steamships and empire to the more complex and layered histories of transnational and transcolonial activities, lives and identities. I unpack the human stories at the heart of this technical subject, examining the ways in which technologies did not have stable meanings that were neatly defined by

in Oceania under steam
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Domestic service and colonial mastery in the tropics
Claire Lowrie

these two colonies and across the Asia-Pacific by the 1930s was linked to specific local factors and international political developments, including the Chinese Revolution of 1911–12. The focus of this book on the connections between tropical colonies is strongly influenced by those historians writing within a transnational, or in the colonial context, ‘transcolonial

in Masters and servants
The politics of Chinese domestic mastery, 1920s–1930s
Claire Lowrie

servants and colonists. The different attitudes towards Chinese mastery came to the fore during the ‘child rescue’ campaigns that circulated across the colonial world in the 1920s and 1930s. Chinese homes and the mui tsai controversy in Singapore The ‘transcolonial child rescue movement’ of the early twentieth century emerged in the context of a broad climate of humanitarian

in Masters and servants
Zoë Laidlaw

, transmitting influence, patronage and information. The members of networks operating within a single colony often had to find means of presenting their arguments, and acquiring influence, in Britain. Trans-colonial networks encouraged the transmission of ideas, and experience, through the empire. While less significant to the daily grind of government than networks linking Britain to

in Colonial connections, 1815–45
Travel writing and narratives of transit
Anna Johnston

, as Wahrman suggests, if these disciplines ‘cannot produce the remains of the veins and sinews of this global nineteenth-century multi-headed English-speaking hydra, then it probably never lived’. 15 Nineteenth-century travel writing provides an ideal vehicle to test globalised settler colonial models, because it maps the transcolonial and mobile consciousness through which

in New Zealand’s empire
Conflict and crisis, 1918–45
Ben Silverstein

approaches to thinking about government became increasingly compelling. Through analogy with colonies in the Pacific, Africa, and Asia, the Northern Territory emerged as a colonial terrain. This brought Australia firmly into a transcolonial discussion on how to govern ‘native labour’, a discussion structured by Lugardian norms. In this chapter I explore these contradictions and the emergent government response. Beginning with the elaboration of ideological contradiction in the Payne–Fletcher Report, before describing the prevailing material contradiction in a detailed

in Governing natives
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Wm. Matthew Kennedy

Only in the last few years has the idea that Australia might well be thought of as an empire in its own right been floated. Previously, scholars tended to hedge their bets, using such terms as ‘proxy imperialism’ or ‘sub imperialism’, or perhaps simply ‘expansion’. In part, this tenuous approach derived from a previous generation’s scholarly focus on the historical problem of Australian national identity, which was then understood to be antithetical to empire. Yet, as new imperial histories and growing transnational and transcolonial historiographies show clearly, settler polities developed political cultures all their own, and with a variety of ideals animating contentious and unique debates in which ‘nationality’ and ‘empire’ could easily be complementary and even coterminous. Thus Australian settler cultures, ideals, and debates, while often treated as parts of a ‘British world’, deserve to be understood on their own terms. And, in their own words, many Australian settlers and later Commonwealth citizens ordered their political lives and visions of the future according to a unique settler idea of a transcolonial, cooperative project of empire – one that belonged to all white settlers equally, and one that demanded their allegiance as well.

in The imperial Commonwealth

Victorian medical men could suffer numerous setbacks on their individual paths to professionalisation, and Thomas Elkanah Hoyle's career offers a telling exemplar. This book addresses a range of the financial, professional, and personal challenges that faced and sometimes defeated the aspiring medical men of England and Wales. Spanning the decades 1780-1890, from the publication of the first medical directory to the second Medical Registration Act, it considers their careers in England and Wales, and in the Indian Medical Service. The book questions the existing picture of broad and rising medical prosperity across the nineteenth century to consider the men who did not keep up with professionalising trends. Financial difficulty was widespread in medical practice, and while there are only a few who underwent bankruptcy or insolvency identified among medical suicides, the fear of financial failure could prove a powerful motive for self-destruction. The book unpicks the life stories of men such as Henry Edwards, who could not sustain a professional persona of disinterested expertise. In doing so it uncovers the trials of the medical marketplace and the pressures of medical masculinity. The book also considers charges against practitioners that entailed their neglect, incompetence or questionable practice which occasioned a threat to patients' lives. The occurrence and reporting of violent crime by medical men, specifically serious sexual assault and murder is also discussed. A tiny proportion of medical practitioners also experienced life as a patient in an asylum.