Empires of Gender

Constructions of Gender in the Age of Imperialism

1This special issue of Gender Forum is dedicated to various discussions of the construction of gender in the context of Imperialism and colonial power structures. Acknowledging the profound impact of colonialism on representations and self-understandings of concepts of masculinity and femininity, our contributors examine the role that gender plays in the works of authors writing in a colonial context, past and present.

2In the first article, "Gender/Mutiny in Edwardian Fiction: Charles Pearce's Fiction of 1857", contributors Ralph Crane and Radhika Mohanram examine how political events in the far-flung spaces of the British Empire affected gender relations in Britain in the Edwardian period. Their focus here lies on the development and expression of masculine anxities over changing gender relations that led to suffrage for women and shows the closely knit relationship between gender and race in early twentieth century in Britain.

3The second contribution comes from Laura-Marie von Czarnowsky and focuses on the work of contemporary playwright Tanika Gupta. In her article "Home and Away: Notions of In-Betweeness in Tanika Gupta's The Waiting Room", von Czarnowsky argues that Gupta's play presents a mode of cultural in-betweenness, offering alternatives to dichotomous pairs such as biography/fiction, East/West, life/death and tradition/modernity.

4In the third article, "Masculinity under Imperial Stress: Mr Biswas and V S Naipaul", contributor Parminder Bakshi-Hamm takes on the novel A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul and examines the impact of colonisation in the construction of masculinity in Mr Biswas, and insofar there are biographical parallels, and in Naipaul himself. Mr. Biswas' efforts to break out of this world to which he is politically and socially confined eventually crystallise into the one desire - to have a house of his own. The ownership of a house for Biswas is fundamental to establishing his identity as a man within the colonial context.