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Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Critical Perspectives on Empire) [Paperback]

Marilyn Lake , Henry Reynolds
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 18, 2008 0521707528 978-0521707527 1
In 1900 W. E. B. DuBois prophesied that the colour line would be the key problem of the twentieth-century and he later identified one of its key dynamics: the new religion of whiteness that was sweeping the world. Whereas most historians have confined their studies of race-relations to a national framework, this book studies the transnational circulation of people and ideas, racial knowledge and technologies that under-pinned the construction of self-styled white men's countries from South Africa, to North America and Australasia. Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds show how in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century these countries worked in solidarity to exclude those they defined as not-white, actions that provoked a long international struggle for racial equality. Their findings make clear the centrality of struggles around mobility and sovereignty to modern formulations of both race and human rights.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book by two of Australia's most respected historians is a tour de force. Weaving their narrative through global debates to do with race and human rights in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Lake and Reynolds have crafted a story that brings together - into one shared context - developments in Australia, the United States, China, Japan, Africa, India, and elsewhere. This is an exemplary exercise in transnational history." -Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, author of Provincializing Europe

"Astonishing in its range of research, Drawing the Global Colour Line shows convincingly that farflung expressions of white solidarity entered a definitive new stage in the early twentieth century as a result of consultations, conferences and concerted actions among political-economic and intellectual elites in the Anglo-American settler colonial world. Such interactions, captured in all of their telling human detail, expressed hubris but also bespoke panic at the prospect that white supremacy was slipping away. By reinterpreting race, this critically important study reorients our understanding of the whole story of the twentieth century." -David Roediger, Babcock Chair of History at University of Illinois, author of Working Towards Whiteness

"A work remarkable both for its international breadth and for its sensitivity to local 'particularity, is a model for the new transnational history. Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds expertly and imaginatively reconstruct how leading white intellectuals and politicians in turn of the century Australia, South Africa, the United States, and Great Britain fought demands for racial equality and jointly invented new doctrines of racial superiority to justify the maintenance and, in some cases, the reinvigoration of white privilege in every part of the world that Britain either controlled or in which it had once deposited its settlers. A powerful and sobering history, incisively and elegantly told." -Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University

"This exceptionally ambitious and important book confirms and gives fresh meaning to W. E. B. DuBois's famous declaration that the problem of the twentieth century was the 'problem of the colour line'. By tracing the efforts by ruling elites in the United States, Australia, and other Anglo settler states in the early twentieth century to forge self-proclaimed 'white men's countries' by means of racial segregation and immigration restrictions, Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds demonstrate that their assertions of 'whiteness' were a transnational phenomenon, responding to the threats that migrant labor, colonial nationalism, and other forces seemed to pose to the established order. Their rich and compellingly written work provides us with a model of how to write history that transcends the nation, and it speaks to issues that remain relevant today." -Dane Kennedy, Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History and International Affairs, Department of History, George Washington University

"This important book is a model of what world history could be...Highly recommended." -Choice

"In this magisterial study, Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds argue that far from being an expression of civilizational and/or racial confidence, "the assertion of whiteness" articulated by proponents of Anglo-American imperial dominance at the turn of the 20th century -- an assertion that served as the rationale for territorial expansion and global aspiration on both sides of the pond in the quarter of a century before and after the Treaty of Versailles - was, in fact, 'born in the apprehension of imminent loss' (2)." -Antoinette Burton, International History Review

"this is a stunningly good book, written with a clarity and directness which is all too rare in contemporary academic prose." -Jonathan Hyslop, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research

"An exceptional study that could find a place even in the classroom, Drawing the Global Colour Line should command attention from historians, sociologists, and political scientists alike." -Thomas R. Metcalf, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This is an important book, for colonial and imperial historians, world historians, Australian, New Zealand, South African, Canadian, US, Chinese and Japanese historians, and for scholars of human rights. Simply listing this scope of readership indicates the vast scope of the book and the multiple terrains across which it ranges.... This book is exemplary in demonstrating how interconnected history writing can transcend the limitations of, and add explanatory power to, both nationally focused and traditionally comparative histories." -Alan Lester, American Historical Review

"Drawing the Global Colour Line is a landmark work of transnational history. In the book two outstanding Australian historians - Marilyn Lake, who has been a leading figure in the development of feminist history, and Henry Reynolds, who has been pre-eminent in exploring the grim history of the colonial destruction of the aboriginals - break new ground, both methodologically and substantively. They provide us with a truly global history of racial politics at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.... Overall, this is a stunningly good book, written with a clarity and directness which is all too rare in contemporary academic prose." -Jonathan Hsylop, Journal of Global History

"a truly unparalleled form of transnational history, one which operates from the archives of white settler colonies (North America included), only to reveal the provincialism of that vantage point, most notably by taking seriously the challenges posed by a variety of 'Asian' actors - from Chinese migrants to Japanese imperialists to Gandhi himself. This is a once-in-a-generation book, a must-read for students of empire, international politics, critical race studies and global history." - Antoinette Burton, International History Review

"Drawing the Global Colour Line' forces us to reconceptualize the discursive and institutional development of whiteness as simultaneously nationally grounded and globally mobile. Scholars striving to extend the study of the geographies of empire, race, and whiteness, in particular, should find considerable inspiration in the approach marshaled so successfully herein." -Daniel Whittal, H-HistGeog

"This is a once-in-a-generation book, a must-read for students of empire, international politics, critical race studies, and global history." -Antoinette Burton, The International History Review

"Lake and Reynolds have truly accomplished a groundbreaking study of whiteness and immigrations policies from a transnational perspective." -Studies in English Literature

Book Description

This book studies the transnational circulation of people and ideas, racial knowledge and technologies that under-pinned the construction of white men's countries from South Africa, to North America and Australasia. It reveals the centrality of struggles around mobility and sovereignty to modern formulations of race and human rights.

Product Details

  • Series: Critical Perspectives on Empire
  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (February 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521707528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521707527
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #948,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Global Perspective December 16, 2011
By Rocco
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds analyze "whiteness" as a transnational phenomenon of the mid 19th century through the early 20th century in five parts. This supplements, or perhaps replaces, Benedict Anderson's conception of the imaginary nation-state, even though the original idea of transnational "whiteness" was conveyed by W.E.B. DuBois at the turn of the 20th century. Anglo-Saxon males imagined a world in which they were the superior race; the only race capable of self-government, democracy and civilization. Moreover, such government, in the Anglo-Saxon mindset, was only feasible within the framework of a homogenous society, free of racial variation. White literary and political leaders, including Charles Pearson, James Bryce, and Theodore Roosevelt, among others, sought to maintain white global supremacy within the "climate zones" amenable to white settlement against the perceived onslaught of Chinese and Indian migration as well as the existence of other "inferior" races such as Africans, African-Americans, Native Americans and Aborigines. Furthermore, as Lake and Reynolds discuss, Anglo-Saxon's feared the spread of technology to the "backward races" and the impact of a "smaller globe" upon white ascendancy. The goal of white leaders, "whose sense of self was constituted in relations of racial domination," was the maintenance of "white men's countries" through the use of segregation, immigration restrictions and imperialism (110). These tactics worked to disassemble the British colonial empire. The lessons of the First and especially Second World Wars led to a stricter focus on international human rights and less focus upon an Anglo-Saxon, "white" global unity. Read more ›
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1.0 out of 5 stars No Notes in Kindle Edition!!! January 27, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Warning: If you care about the footnotes, be aware that the Kindle edition does not include them—not on the page, not as endnotes, not as click-through links in the text. I have been through this book every way to Sunday, and the notes are nowhere to be found. So if you are planning to use this for real scholarly purposes, or just want to see where they got their material, you are SOL with this edition. For shame, Cambridge UP. A real disappointment.
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