Abstract

The major claim of this essay is that eighteenth century Scottish notions of gender and national character is accorded to socio-political institutions, in contrast to the counter-notions in the high Victorian ages saturated in racialism and racism. Centered on the concept of effeminacy, this essay argues that eighteenth century Scottish views of the society and people of India were both structured by political languages rooted in European tradition and reflected changes of international politics. Scottish writers of the Enlightenment relocated long-enduring political debates on luxury and virtue in the new and global context of long distance trade. The Bengalis, perceived from the problematic view of commercialization and feminization of the modern world, were considered effeminate, though this was also considered an aspect of the natural values of manufacturing nations, which Britain saw through the lenses of the mutual benefits of trade. Many Scottish writers, however, against the background of the Napoleonic wars, began to disparage this characteristic, and imputed effeminacy to Hinduism, conceptualizing the difference between effeminate Hindus and valiant (and virtuous) Muslims. In the increasingly militant politics of international relations, the Hindus, or India, exist no more as a mutual partner of British commerce but a beneficiary of British imperial tutelage.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-0201
Print ISSN
0193-5380
Pages
pp. 193-210
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-17
Open Access
No
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