The harem, slavery and British imperial culture

Anglo-Muslim relations in the late nineteenth century

The British saw Egypt as a major route to India where their interests could be threatened in alarming ways. This book sheds light on the formation of English national identities in relation to Islam as understood in the context of the British imperial mission. It focuses on the late nineteenth century, a period that marks a new departure in Anglo-Muslim relations in the context of the British Empire shifting the ground on which British identity politics operated. The role of the British Government and English activists respectively in the campaign to suppress slave traffic in Egypt and surrounding areas is discussed. Government officials and British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS) members redefined English culture and proper English gender roles. Anti-slavery campaign had as much to do with English domestic as it did with Egyptian and British imperial politics. The book examines the relationships between activism in England, the implementation of government policy in Egypt and imperial encounters, as well as the production of identities and ideologies associated with these efforts. References to the East, Islam and the harem were used to define the behaviour that the English feminists sought to eliminate from their own society as un-English. The poem 'British Turk' focuses on the oppression of English women, on the burdens associated with marriage. The book also explains how the concept of the English nation as the centre of an empire helped to establish a place in England for Islam.

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