This article counters interpretations of George Sand’s Indiana as an antislavery novel, instead examining it as a fictional inscription of colonialist practice and rhetoric. Sand discursively exploits the condition of the enslaved as an extended metaphor for the oppression of women, including that of the novel’s protagonist. At the same time, the novel valorizes the racial discourses and acquisitive ambitions of a colonialist ethos, culminating in a romanticized panorama of French Empire-as-utopia on the island of Bernica, imagined as a space of personal liberation and recuperation for white Creole cousin-lovers Indiana and Ralph. The ideological scaffolding of Sand’s feminist idealism in Indiana rests, at least in part, on the prerogatives of imperial capitalist reverie, inseparable from the exchanges of currency, labor, and black bodies as movable property at the center of the expansion of French Empire. In the novel’s conclusion, Ralph imagines not the abolition of slavery but rather a fantasy of total economic domination—being “rich enough” to purchase all the enslaved bodies of the world.


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pp. 201-217
Launched on MUSE
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