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2 Transforming Colonial Knowledge into Imperial Knowledge The Isolation of the Mosquito as Intermediary Host of the Filaria Worm 30 CHAPTER 2 R ETURNING to Britain, Manson participated in the dense circulation of people between the imperial periphery and the metropole. Furloughs, or leaves of absence, represented an important social institution that sustained Britain's imperial culture at home and in its wider empire. Official and semiofficial positions, as well as those associatedwith tradingcompanies and plantations , usually provided for approved leaves of absence after the completion of a fixed number of years of service.1 During this period, imperial servants could receive from two months to two years of leave while drawing full or partial salary. Both as a reward for service and as a promise of job security, the furlough made British as well as European imperialism a practical possibility: It encouraged the growth of a relatively stable imperial workforce. The furlough also facilitated the domestication of the empire. After a protracted absence, imperial servants returned as visitors to their native land. Still, the homecoming of sons, fathers, nephews, and uncles underscored the emotional and personal ties that linked home and community to the wider imperial project. These ties grew through marriage between imperial servants and British women. Indeed, Manson's own marriage during his furlough was no exception. Ifanything, such unions reveal the complementary demographic realities that made them desirable, namely, the scarcity ofEuropeanwomen in the empire and their surplus at home. The yearlong furlough provided Manson with an occasion not only to deepen his personal stake in the empire but also to recast his understanding of the cause of elephantiasis, a disease endemic to South China. At first sight, the library of the British Museum seems an unlikely place for Manson to learn about the existence ofFilaria sanguinis hominis. Yet, in all but name, the British Museum was an imperial institution. Its vast and growing collection of books and periodicals made the library a repository for the cultural production ofknowledge about the empire. This was especiallyimportant for imperial doctors who, dispersed throughout the empire, lacked regular access to a medical library. By providing imperial doctors, such as Manson, with a space to compare their own colonial medical knowledge with what was known elsewhere in the empire, the library functioned not only as a reference source but also as a space for the production of imperial knowledge itself. Manson's later isolation of the mosquito as the intermediary host ofF. sanguinis hominis in China in 1877 continued a process that had begun in Bloomsbury. TRANSFORMING COLONIAL KNOWLEDGE 31 Finding Love in London For unattached European males, treaty ports in China offered few opportunities for lasting romance-at least with single European women. Given the military and commercial nature of Europe's relationship with China in the nineteenth century, the scarcity of single European women is not surprising. Imperial service was mainlymen's work. The British army, navy, and merchant marine consisted of single males who were recruited disproportionately from the workingclasses. Their contactwith Chinawas instrumental, transient, and strictlyregulated. To the extent thatWesternwomenwere present, they usually accompanied imperial professionals-ranging from military officials to diplomatic and senior customs personnel to merchants and missionaries-as wives and daughters (in other words, as dependents). As Anne Stoler and others have argued, the regulation of the presence of European women was no accident.2 This practice enabled imperial and corporate officials to control the social contours of the Western presence in China while reinforcing hierarchies of power within the foreign settlement community . This was the case for men such as Manson, who occupied the ambiguous social space between transient and semipermanent imperial personnel. They were older than university students but not yet middle-aged. Their association with important institutions such as the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs Service made them members of the foreign community. Undoubtedly, the preference for middle-class bachelors reflected a desire among customs officials to ensure a high standard of living and, by extension, buttress white prestige in China. However, there was a cost associatedwith the seven-year marriage prohibition in the customs service, namely, marginality within the foreign settlement community.3 Bachelors lived apart from their superiors, and strict social conventions mediated their contact with married European women. Paul King, sometime customs commissioner in China, recalled the social distinctions that existed in the foreign settlement communityofSwatow, a small coastal port south of Amoy. Swatow suffered then, as it does now, from divided interests. The foreign settlement is on...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780812202212
Related ISBN
9780812235982
MARC Record
OCLC
859160751
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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