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From white to western: 'racial decline' and the idea of the West in Britain, 1890-1930

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alastair Bonnett


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Drawing on British works of imperial and social commentary, this article shows how a literature of white crisis emerged between 1890–1930. It was a literature that, whilst claiming to defend and affirm white identity, in fact exposed the limits of whiteness as a form of social solidarity. It is shown how these studies drew together a variety of challenges deemed to be facing the white race and, more specifically, how they exhibited a contradictory desire to defend white racial community whilst attacking "the masses". The idea of the West, developing alongside, within and in the wake of this crisis literature, provided a less racially reductive but not necessarily less socially exclusive identity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bonnett A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Historical Sociology

Year: 2003

Volume: 16

Issue: 3

Pages: 320-348

ISSN (print): 0952-1909

ISSN (electronic): 1467-6443

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/1467-6443.00210


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