"All This Is the Empire, I Told Myself": Australian Women's Voyages "Home" and the Articulation of Colonial Whiteness

by Angela Woollacott
"All This Is the Empire, I Told Myself": Australian Women's Voyages "Home" and the Articulation of Colonial Whiteness
Angela Woollacott
The American Historical Review
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Select license: 
Select License

"All This Is the Empire, I Told Myself": Australian Women's Voyages "Home" and the Articulation of Colonial Whiteness


"[I]T IS SAFE TO SAY the average Australian girl cherishes an ambition to come to London some time or other, whether it be in search of fame, experience, or mere frivolous adventure," Alice Grant Rosman assured the readers of Evelylady's Journal in October 1913. "That a large percentage realise that ambition in these days of cheap travelling may be seen from the fact-or perhaps I should say the rumour-that there are no fewer than 25,000 Australians either temporarily o[r] permanently residing in London to-day."' Rosman's figures were more fact than rumor. Starting with a trickle of a couple of thousand per year in the 1870s, the flow of Australians and New Zealanders to England rose to around an annual 10,000 from the late 1880s beyond the turn of the century and then doubled in the interwar peri~d.~

By 1911, there were 23,000 Australian-born residents of England and Wales, of whom 13,000 were female.3 If not always the only or even the first destination for itinerant Australians, London often served as an emotional and practical base. England-and London-held such appeal for Australian women that visits there were often measured in years or could extend indefinitely. For many Australians, London represented the center of the world that mattered, the heart of the empire, and also the place where creative or professional success was defined, where the powerful arbiters were. London, even more than the rest of Britain and Europe, held out the lure of fame and achievement because it contained the most important publishers, critics, audiences, organizational headquarters, training institutes, and art schools. In September 1902, the successful Australian opera singer Amy Castles was asked by a journalist from The New Idea whether she came across many Australian "girls" in England and Paris. "Yes, quite a lot," she replied.

I am grateful to Antoinette Burton, Deb Clarke, Philippa Levine, Carroll Pursell, and the anonymous reviewers for the AHR for their thoughtful comments on earlier versions of this essay; to Maura O'Connor for inviting me to present a version of it at the University of Cincinnati; and to my colleagues at Case Western Reserve University for their responses.

Alice Grant Rosman, "Girls Who Are Going to London Town," Everylady's Journal (October 6, 1913): 604.

2 K. S. Inglis, "Going Home: Australians in England, 1870-1900," in David Fitzpatrick, ed., Home or Away? Immigrants in Colonial Australia: Visible Immigrants (Canberra, 1992), 105-06. By 1930, Gilbert Mant could explain that the reason "Australians Are Unpopular in London" was that "Something like 20,000 trippers are allowed to leave Australia each year." The British Australian and New Zealander (October 23, 1930): 18.

3 Inglis, "Going Home," 105-06. Inglis's figures support the "rumour" cited by Rosman and add important evidence that more than half of these thousands of Australians were female.

"In fact, I think that far too many Australians are going home to try their fortunes. Competition is very keen."4 The thousands of Australian women resident in London in these decades included not only opera singers hoping to be the next Nellie Melba but also writers, artists, musicians, suffragists, nurses, doctors, teachers, and social workers5

In this essay, my concern is not with what Australian women did when they arrived but with what they made of what they saw on the way there. Australian women viewed their own status in the British Empire at least partially through the knowledge they gleaned of the empire's constituent parts on their passages "home," as Castles and many others often termed England.6 The voyage from Australia to England was crucially different from travel undertaken at will to a chosen itinerary of destinations, and while it bore some of the cultural valences of tourism (the group experience of already-known tourist sites), in its relatively fixed route and the powerful historical and cultural significance of the ultimate destination, it resem- bled a secular pilgrimage.' Sydney-bred writer Nancy Phelan's father commented at her departure for England in 1938 that she was off "to Mec~a."~

Australian women voyagers not only reverse the dominant story line of female migration from Britain to the col~nies,~

they complicate and go beyond the main argument of recent scholarship on women and travel.

Scholars who have sought to redress the absence of women from much of the travel literature have tended to cast women's traveling as an assertion of indepen- dence, a bid for self-discovery, and an escape from domestic gender constraints. This argument is persuasive: women's desires for the relative freedom of travel away from home and family and the sheer adventure of seeing different parts of the world have clearly been important motivational factors.1° However, in the context of the voyage to England, travel for women was also a matter of education about

The New Idea (September 1, 1902): 115.

While a number of the women in my study achieved some degree of success or fame (divas such as Nellie Melba and Ada Crossley, writers like Miles Franklin and Henry Handel Richardson, artists such as Margaret Baskerville and Margaret Preston) and can be traced through various biographical dictionaries, the great majority are more obscure. To find these, important sources include Australian magazines of the period, and especially the weekly newspaper published in London from 1884 onwards, The British Australasian (later The British Australian and New Zealander).

The first definition for "home," in Joan Hughes, ed., Australian Words and Their Origins (Melbourne, 1989), 259, is: "Applied to the United Kingdom, esp. England, orig. by colonists and later by their descendants." Inglis quotes from the 1892 Australian National Dictionary's definition of the word "home": " 'All good Australians hope to go to England when they die. Not only does everybody, now-a-days, go "home" when able to do so, but many stay there.'" Inglis, "Going Home," 107.

On the shared dimensions of tourism, travel, and pilgrimages, see M. N. Pearson, "Pilgrims, Travellers, Tourists: The Meanings of Journeys," Australian Cultural History 10 (1991): 125-34.

Nancy Phelan, The Swift Foot of Time: An Australian in England 1938-45 (Melbourne, 1983), 5.

On this, see A. James Hammerton, Emigrant Gentlewomen: Genteel Poverty and Female Emigration, 1830-1914 (London, 1979); Julia Bush, "'The Right Sort of Woman': Female Emigrators and Emigration to the British Empire, 1890-1910," Women's History Review 3, no. 3 (1994): 385-409; and Deborah Oxley, Convict Maids: The Forced Migration of Women to Australia (Cambridge, 1996).

'0 Recent works that have emphasized this argument include Shirley Foster, Across New Worlds: Nineteenth-Century Women Travellers and Their Writings (Heme1 Hempstead, 1990); Alison Blunt, Travel, Gender and Imperialism: Mary Kingsley and West Africa (New York, 1994); and Ros Pesman, Duty Free: Australian Women Abroad (Melbourne, 1996). In contrast, Sara Mills argued that rather than being tempted to see women travelers mostly as proto-feminist, we need to consider their writing within the context of colonial discourse. Mills, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism (London, 1991), esp. 4.

and participation in the empire to which they belonged, and it thus presents a complex of issues about Australian women's self-identifications within a global framework.

There was little choice of sea route: the dominant route during this period went from east to west along the southern coast of Australia, then northwest across the Indian Ocean, through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Mediterranean, from where the traveler could either take a train overland or continue by ship to England. A secondary and somewhat cheaper route passed around the Cape of Good Hope and up the west coast of Africa. A third route, across the Pacific and then via train across North America to the transatlantic ships, was an unusual option until the 1920s, and even then was chosen by only a minority. The two dominant routes meant that Australians by necessity visited on the way to England more colonies and territories of the empire than any other imperial subjects, except perhaps New Zealanders or those in Malaya, Singapore, New Guinea, and Hong Kong. The ports of call en route from Australia to England, included, depending on the route and the shipping line, Colombo, Bombay, Aden, Port Said, and Gibraltar for those going through the Suez Canal, and Durban and Cape Town for those who sailed around Africa. Australian women bound for London thus had fleeting but direct encounters with various sites of the empire, throughout the era when Britain claimed imperial control over more territory and subjects than any other empire ever.

Their observations and narratives of these colonial sites reveal the instructive impact they had on travelers and also the strength of Australian women's identification with the colonizers. Ann Laura Stoler has suggested that, within the matrix of questions addressed by scholarship on gender, race, and colonialism, one line of inquiry we need to pursue is, what distinct investments did white women have in racism?" The reactions and reports of Australian women visitors to these ports of call from the turn of the century up to World War I1 indicate how even such transient visitors participated in the racial structures of colonialism.

The letters, letter books (an artifact of this period, a book that allowed the writer to keep a carbon copy of all letters sent), autobiographies, and journalistic and fictionalized travel accounts that Australian women wrote during and after their trips constitute a historical record of a voyage that was specific not only to Australia's colonial and geographic location in relation to England but also to a particular historical epoch. The epoch of travel that arose around the same time as, if not simply because of, the steamship, and that ended with the emergence of jet travel, can be considered a historically specific form of human mobility. The steamship itself, and certainly the constant technological improvements in the size, speed, and comforts steamships could boast, meant that travel in this epoch was culturally perceived as emblematic of the modern world. The steamship repre- sented the possibility of traveling for leisure or enjoyment in ways that the sailing ship, with its physical privations, never could. But steamers needed to be refueled, especially on a voyage as long as that between Australia and England. Thus while

l1 Ann Laura Stoler, "Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Gender, Race, and Morality in Colonial Asia," in Micaela di Leonardo, ed., Gender at the Crossroads of Knowledge: Feminist Anthropology in the Postmodern Era (Berkeley, Calif., 1991), 55.

transatlantic travel was an experience mediated only by the ocean and the weather, passengers on voyages like that from Australia to England visited ports of call in their exoticized variety. In a sense, then, steamship travel prefigured the contem- porary leisure cruise. But it was a vastly different experience from the jet travel that has superseded it; even on long-haul flights, jet travelers are exposed to nothing more than hermetically sealed transit lounges, alleviated only by the possibility of some duty-free shopping.

The historical records left by women voyagers on the two dominant routes reveal their understandings and observations of the journey, their fellow passengers, and the places at which they called. The voyage and their understandings of it show the ways in which travel itself was culturally privileged, even while available to people who did not possess much capital. The remarkable heterogeneity of their covoyagers was evidence of fluid movement among and beyond the constituent parts of the British Empire throughout this period, and the conversations they shared, often over countless meals with the same table seatings, became opportunities for Australian women to learn far more about the empire than they had previously known. But it is their own firsthand observations, their descriptions of the colonized peoples with whom they had dealings at the ports of call, and their perspectives as colonizers-for-the-day that most indicate to us as readers of this historical record how Australian women voyagers positioned themselves. In their accounts, we can see their articulated self-positionings (or subjectivities) as white women in an imperial hierarchy of color. The settler colonies, which from 1901 constituted the federated Commonwealth of Australia and after World War I were termed a Dominion of the British Empire and Commonwealth, ranked below Britain because of colonial status but above the non-self-governing colonies and territories. Occupying an in-between ranking in imperial hierarchy, Australian women sought to elide the inferiority inherent in their colonialness by emphasizing their whiteness and their economic and cultural privileging. Most accounts of the empire imply or assume (even when they analyze) a masculine imperial gaze,12 while, as Billie Melman and others have argued, critics of Orientalism tend to "write out gender."'3 Focusing on women's articulation of their own whiteness provides a means of addressing a central concern of recent scholarship on white women and colonialism, that of whether women exhibited more "complicity" or "resistance."'4 For these reasons and because the scholarship on women and travel has largely focused on individual women outward bound from the metropolitan center,l"he historical

lZ As Mary Louise Pratt has succinctly formulated it, this reached its acme in the late nineteenth- century male explorer's "monarch of all I survey" stance. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London, 1992), 201-08.

l3 Billie Melman, Women's Orients: English Women and the Middle East, 1718-1918: Sexuality, Religion and Work (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1992), 5; Mills, Discourses of Difference; Reina Lewis, Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (London, 1996).

l4 Recent scholarship in this area includes Nupur Chaudhuri and Margaret Strobel, eds., Western Women and Imperialism: Complicity and Resistance (Bloomington, Ind., 1992); Margaret Strobel, European Women and the Second British Empire (Bloomington, 1991);and Kumari Jayawardena, The White Woman's Other Burden: Western Women and South Asia during British Rule (New York, 1995).

l5 For example, Dea Birkett, Spinsters Abroad: Victorian Lady Explorers (Oxford, 1989), and Mary Kingsley: Imperial Adventuress (London, 1992);Blunt, Travel, Gender and Imperialism; and, to a large extent, Mills, Discourses of Difference; while to a lesser extent the same may be said of Melman, Women's Orients, and Susan Morgan, Place Matters: Gendered Geography in Victorian Women's Travel

record left by Australian women voyagers to England is an important opportunity for us to reconstruct and to deconstruct the imperial gaze of a significant group of white women who were at once colonials and colonizers.

In The Black Atlantic, Paul Gilroy argued that we must break down assumptions that nationality, culture, and ethnicity are coextensive, so that the study of history and culture can encompass the hybrid and the transnational. In order to understand how the British Empire shaped the nation, Gilroy contends, the "insideioutside relationship," that is, the positioning of those whose culture and ethnicity are not coextensive with English national borders, "should be recognised as a more powerful, more complex, and more contested element in the historical, social and cultural memory of our glorious nation than has previously been supposed."16 While in this essay I appropriate the idea of the insiderioutsider to underscore the significance of studying white colonial women from the settler colonies and dominions of the British Empire, the contradictions inherent to colonial subjects' positions that this term implies obtain equally for colonialism in a wide range of historical contexts. Like other white colonial women, women from the Australian colonies, or post-1901 the Australian Commonwealth, were insiders in the empire because of their whiteness but simultaneously outsiders in England due to their colonial origins and often subordinated because of their sex. The sea voyage Australian women had to take to get to England at the turn of and in the first decades of the twentieth century proffered them moments in which they could and did bolster their own claims to insiderness in the empire to whose metropolis they were headed. The stratum of those who could and did enjoy both privileges and mobility within the empire included some colonized men (and a few women17), showing that racial identity could be overridden by a certain class or educational level, just as women's sexual identity was at moments governed by their inclusion in the honorific category of white men. But the cultural privilege associated with modern travel, the class status that they assumed as travelers even if not affluent, their access to markers of racial privilege at the ports of call, and their positioning as sexual or romantic subjects on board ship at the same time as they were defined as needing white male protection on shore were all components not only of their belonging to the imperial elite but also of their subjectivities as white women.

Scholars of whiteness in the United States have seen its key elements as its normativity and structured invisibility, the tendency to "forget" or overlook racialized and subordinated others, and its false unity premised on its supposed "absence of culture" and on "whom one can hold back."18 The evidence of

Books about Southeast Asla (New Brunswick, N.J., 1996). A central point of some of this literature (though not of Melman, Mills, or Morgan) is the recuperation of women explorers in the heroic individualist tradition.

'6 Paul Gilroy, The BlackAtlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge, Mass., 1993), 11.

l7 Inderpal Grewal has suggested that, while significantly fewer Indian women than men traveled to England, at least a few privileged women went for educational purposes or to accompany their husbands (besides poor women taken as servants). Grewal, Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire and the Cultures of Travel (Durham, N.C., 1996), 138, 141, 159-78.

'Wuth Frankenberg, White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (Minneapolis, Minn., 1993), 6; and "Growing Up White: Feminism, Racism and the Social Geography of Childhood," Feminist Review 45 (Autumn 1993): 60; and David R. Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness (London, 1994), 13.

Australian women's records of their voyages to England shows that in Australia, while the many white Australians who lived in coastal areas (especially in the southeast) found it easy to forget or overlook Aborigines, the imperative to establish immigration policies before and during federation led to a whiteness that was certainly normative but not quite invisible. This particular construction of whiteness came to be enshrined in the prominent "White Australia" policy, which overtly "held back" both Asians and Aborigines. Moreover, while whiteness may have been so normative as to be partly invisible in Australia itself, exposure to different colonial racial structures at times compelled women to articulate notions of themselves as white that were integral to developing Australian national identity but usually tacit. The voyage to England also shows that, unlike an "absence of culture" or community in the United States, during the decades in which Austra- lians established and first interpreted national Australian identity, the whiteness that was crucial to that identity was premised on a shared British heritage (conflicted as that was), on notions of England as "home," and on belonging to the stratum of imperial rulers.

FROMTHE OPENING OF THE SUEZ CANAL in 1869 to the inauguration of Australian commercial air travel to England in 1934, the experience of the passenger was ineluctably shaped by technological developments that held global geopolitical significance and were represented as artifacts of modernity. Central to the revolution in worldwide transportation of this period was the steamship. The P&O (Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company) line, one of the major carriers throughout these decades, inaugurated steamship service to Australia in 1852 but faced competition as a direct consequence of the canal.19 Between 1870 and 1940, the size, speed, and comforts offered by vessels plying the Australian route were increased due to both the pressures of competition and engineering advancements in ship power and design. The first P&O steamer to service Australia weighed around 700 tons;20 the small fleet built in 1888 in honor of Queen Victoria's fiftieth year of rule the year before were each about 6,500 tons; and by the 1920s the ships that P&O built to replace their devastating losses during World War I ranged from 15,000 to 21,000 tons.21

Greater size meant ever larger numbers of passengers could be accommodated, but even more subject to superlatives in advertising copy were the passenger comforts and technological features (including electric lights, lifts, and laundries, telegraph and on-board telephones, and cinemas) of what became cast as ocean- going hotels. By 1929, the P&O line was describing its latest steamer as "A City Within A City. Enclosed by the steel sides of the great liner, a miniature Metropolis moves out upon the waters!"22 The feature of the ship that passengers most commonly registered in their letters and diaries was the weight, such as Dr. Helen Mayo's reference in her typescript autobiography that when she left Adelaide for

Iy "An Historic Note," The Home 8 (February 1, 1927): 1.
20 The British-Australasian (November 19, 1903): 1657.
21 "Historic Note," 1; The Home 6 (October 1, 1925): 1.
22 The Home 10 (January 2, 1929): 1.

London in February 1904, it was on "the P. & 0.Arcadia, a 6,000 ton mail steamer" ("mail" meaning that it was carrying mail by government contract, which translated in social terms as a better class of ship).23 Besides larger size indicating a smoother voyage, it is likely that tonnage was used metonymically to represent the ship's age, capacity, and standard of amenities. But passengers also understood that their own claims to urbanity depended on the modernity of their ship. Improvements in the vessels themselves both produced and were driven by the increasing numbers of passengers as the demand for berths rose. By the last decades of the nineteenth century, travel to Britain and other parts of Europe was a commodity rich in social and cultural meaning for Australians.

While travel itself became perceived as a marker of bourgeois status in this period, the technological conquest over distance and the collapsing of time were clear markers of its modernity. Steamship companies boasted of their vessels' tonnage and luxurious facilities but also of their speed. Sailing ships in the mid-nineteenth century had typically taken two to three months to reach England from Australia; by 1900, steamers were completing the same voyage in four to eight weeks.24 In the mid-1930s, the miracle of air travel was mainly its reduction of travel time. When feminist playwright Marguerite Dale became the first Australian woman to take a commercial air flight to London in September 1935, the story of her trip ran in The British Australian and New Zealander as well as The Sydney Morning Herald. Despite the fact that planes then flew only during daylight hours and passengers slept on land overnight, the stunning thing was that, as Dale reported, "In twelve days we had travelled thirteen thousand miles, in six different aeroplanes, through ten c~untries."~~

The steamship as signifier of modernity was also produced by the development of the thoroughly modern cultural ritual of the dockside farewell, a ritual that Australians may have been fonder of than other cultures because of the greater significance of the voyage as connection to Britain and Europe on the other side of the world.26 Photographs (another manifestation of modernity) of the dockside farewell became cultural icons of the voyage to England, both in personal and family photograph albums and in the social pages of Australian newspapers and magazines, where groups (usually featuring women) all dressed in their best were juxtaposed with photos of the ship pulling away from the dock, while hundreds of paper streamers formed a spectacular last tangible connection between the departing passengers and their well-wishers.27

But perhaps the most powerful icon of modernity was the Australian woman

23 Mortlock Library of South Australia, PRG 12716, Helen Mayo Papers, Biographical Notes, 5.

24 Inglis, "Going Home," 106; Mitchell Library, A. G. Stephens Papers, ML MSS 49371 22 (30), Louise Mack scrapbook, 31 (September 21, 1901), "Impressions of Travel [For The Bulletin]"; "When Suzie Went Steerage: The Adventures of a Solitary Australian Girl on a World-Tramp," The New Idea (March 6, 1911): 217.

25 ". . . and on to LONDON: Marguerite Dale Completes Her Description of Her Flight From Australia," Sydney Morning Herald Women's Supplement (October 24, 1935): 7.

26 On the study of travel as culturally related to ritual, as well as performance and mythology, see William W. Stowe, Going Abroad: European Travel in Nineteenth-Centuly American Culture (Princeton, N.J., 1994), 21-22; and Paul Fussell, Abroad: British Literary Traveling between the Wars (New York, 1980), 208-09.

27 For example, the columns of captioned photographs of dockside farewells called "P. & 0. Portraits," in The Home 10 (April 2, 1929) and (May 1, 1929).

If the technology of travel, travel itself, and the Australian woman traveler all


represented modernity, at the same time travel was understood as a marker of bourgeois status, of belonging to a privileged cultural elite. In fact, as Alice Grant Rosman made clear with her reference to "these days of cheap travelling," in the period I am considering the voyage to England was within the financial reach of many who had little capital. As Paul Fussell argues, the success of late twentieth- century tourism in paradoxically industrializin; travel and aligning it with wealth and luxury is likely to blind us to the fact that in an earlier period it was quite possible to travel without much money.29 No doubt the most extreme example of an Australian woman getting to England cheaply was "Jane," who in 1928 dressed in "boy's clothes" and stowed away on a cargo ship tied up at the Port Lincoln wharf. When three days later she emerged from the wheat in the hold, she was permitted to work the rest of her way to England as cabin "boy."30 But abundant evidence exists that many of the women who made the trip did so on the basis of hard-earned savings and fully expected to work once they got there.31 The fact that traveling on a budget was a common characteristic for Australian women bound for England is reflected in the titles of two magazine serials proffering travel stories mixed with travel tips. In early to mid-1911, The New Idea ran the series "When Suzie Went Steerage: The Adventures of a Solitary Australian Girl on a World-Tramp," which was followed in late 1911 and early 1912 by "The Travels of Economical Emily" in Everylady's Journal.32 Artists, musicians, and students in various fields could obtain traveling scholarships that paid their fare to England, and by the 1930s a few women doctors (probably headed for further training) worked their way as the requisite ship's surgeon.33

Yet, while affordable, travel nevertheless stood for economic and cultural privilege. In part, this was due to obvious practical reasons: one did have to have some savings or capital to be able to pay the fare, and taking the voyage itself meant four to eight weeks of leisure on the ship. There were equally obvious reasons why travel could be associated with wealth: it was possible to travel in luxury, and many of those who went were indeed from the moneyed classes. And, as described above, advertisements for ocean liners, especially the'most expensive ones, extolled their technological amenities and comforts. It was common knowledge, too, that most ships offered different classes of berth. The usual arrangement was that the ship was divided between first-class or first-saloon passengers and other inferior classes

2y Fussell, Abroad, 71-72.

"The British Australian and New Zealander (May 3, 1928): 21.

31 Mary Brennan, one of the women who went during World War I from a combination of imperial loyalty and a desire to travel, and who made munitions and worked on the land, was from a very poor family. She paid for her ticket out of her savings from working as a hotel maid and waitress mostly in remote mining towns. Elaine McKenna, ed., Better Than Dancing: The Wandering Years of a Young Australian, May Brennan (Richmond, Vic., 1987).

""When Suzie Went Steerage," The New Idea (March 6, 1911): 217-18; (April 6, 1911): 305-06; (May 6, 1911): 399-401; (June 6, 1911): 12-13; "The Travels of Economical Emily," Eveylady's Journal (August 6, 1911): 136-37; (September 6, 1911): 200-01, 207; (November 6, 1911): 328-29, 335; (January 6, 1912): 8, 11; (February 6, 1912): 78-79. "Emily" was in fact Alice Grant Rosman, and no doubt "Suzie" was also a writer supporting her travels with her pen.

33 For example, the triennial Travelling Scholarship given by the National Gallery Schools, Melbourne, to an Australian artist to go to London for further training was consistently awarded to women artists between 1905 and 1935.Art in Australia, 3d ser., no. 61 (November 1935): 38. Steamship companies also provided "scholarships" of free passages.

(or sometimes only one), variously denoted as second class, second saloon, third class, and steerage, although there were some "one-class" ships (which meant all second or third class). Class distinctions were keenly observed on board. Journalist and poet Louise Mack, in the novel she based on her own voyage to London in 1901, lampooned shipboard class distinctions: "The First Class, which always represents Fashion, gives a Ball, and doesn't invite the Second Class. The Second Class, which invariably represents Intellect, gives a Party, and hangs up the notice of it in Greek. The First Class doesn't know Greek. It comes, and looks at the notice, and goes away baffled."34 As Mack makes clear, there was more than one way in which class status was associated with traveling: if the second class was not wealthy like first-class passengers, it could include writers, artists, students, and others who were professionally and culturally at least potential members of the middle classes. Thus even some of those who could barely afford the trip (like Mack herself) added to the social cachet Australians associated with the voyage. The elaboration of bourgeois status by Australians bound for England may well have been a response to the fact that, even if they were not fully conscious of it, white colonials were often seen by metropolitan Europe as ''pawenus, cultural incompetents . . . and indeed 'fictive' Eur~peans."~~

But more significant for my purposes than class differences among women voyagers themselves were the ways in which class relationships mediated passen- gers' interactions with colonized people at the ports of call. Fussell suggests that, particularly in the cash nexus between European travelers and the locals of poor countries they visited, early twentieth-century travel can be seen as a nostalgic attempt to recreate the class relations of a vanished "pastoral" era. Travelers turned themselves into modern-day "plutocrats" in patronizing and employing the villagers or peasants, who were mostly grateful to be paid for their services.36 While Fussell's argument about nostalgia for an older aristocratic order may be apt for English travelers in southern Europe, relations across the cash nexus in the context of colonies and territories of the empire are more instructive for seeing the connec- tions between the class structures of capitalism and the racial hierarchies of colonialism, although, as Mary Louise Pratt points out, the "dynamics of power and appropriation" between travelers and the native people about whom they write are comparable in the two contexts.37

When Australian voyagers went ashore at Colombo or Durban or any of the other ports en route, their interactions with local people were almost entirely with vendors of goods or services or employees of hotels and restaurants. Even before disembarking, they encountered vendors in small boats eager to sell fruit or souvenirs. On shore, they hired rickshaw "drivers" and dealt with merchants at a great variety of stalls and shops, as well as waiters or other hotel staff when they stayed in hotels overnight. Australians' interactions with local vendors and employ- ees were structured by axes of difference that included race, class, sex, and colonizer/colonized. Within such a matrix of inextricable and mutually constitutive

34 Louise Mack, An Australian Girl in London (London, 1902), 16.
35 Ann Laura Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's Histoly of Sexuality and the Colonial

Order of Things (Durham, N.C., 1995), 102.

36 Fussell, Abroad, 210.

37 Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 10.

factors of difference, it is difficult to single out the operation of just one, that of class. But it is clear that class difference was one of the interwoven factors at work and that women drew on established behavior of the middle class regarding the poor in their actions at Colombo, for example, and their descriptions of it. Well-traveled feminist activist Bessie Rischbieth's description of her day in Colombo in April 1913 reflects the existence of imperial organizations through which middle-class women's philanthropic mission was pursued, although in her case an organization that opposed imperial Christian evangelizing: "At Colombo I put in a quiet day. Went to the Galle Face Hotel for a room for the day, & then went & called on Mrs. Higgins of the [Theosophical Society] Centre & stayed to 'tiffin' with them. It was so interesting going over the school again dear little Buddhist girls[.] I had quite a lovely time with her."38 While issues of class are embedded in Rischbieth's account, Stella Bowen, in her later recollection of her impressions of poverty in Colombo, states explicitly that it was issues of suffering and social injustice that struck her forcefully at the time, and only in retrospect (she implies a matter of years) did she understand the simultaneous implication of imperialism and colonialism. When in early 1914, she sailed from Adelaide to London to study art and see the world, Bowen stopped at Colombo: "I saw the unimaginable squalor of the native quarter, the crawling heaps of brown limbs, the begging babies, the sickness. I admired the skill, industry and soft-voiced charm of the Hindu tailor who offered to copy your favourite suit in twenty-four hours for a pittance. All this is the Empire, I told myself, and no criticism of it entered into my mind. Not then."39 Bowen's admission of her lack of awareness, of her failure to identify the role of colonialism in the production of suffering is unusual, perhaps partly the result of her recollections being recorded in her memoir later in life (in the late 1930s or perhaps 1940).

WILLFULUNAWARENESS OF THE OPPRESSIONS OF COLONIALISM did not, however, mean that Australians were ignorant of the enormous reaches and complexity of the British Empire. On the contrary, knowledge of the empire and its component parts was expected of all well-educated Australians. Indeed, it was such a marker of education that in 1938 a question on the New South Wales statewide high-school Intermediate examination was, "Describe carefully the scenery, nationalities, and types of trade commodities likely to be met with on a sea trip from Sydney to Naples via Singapore, Colombo and the Suez Canal."40 Australians en route to England were well aware that they were privileged to have the chance to see exotic points of the empire that their friends and neighbors would also want to see; the lore of the

38 National Library of Australia, MS 20041115, Bessie Rischbieth Papers, letter to her sister Olive from R.M.S. Otranto, April 7, 1913.

39 Stella Bowen, Drawn from Life (1941; rpt. edn., London, 1984), 31. While Bowen was exceptional in her retrospective recognition of colonialism's oppressiveness, she was not alone in her indictment of the suffering of the poor in Colombo or other ports of call: other Australian women at various times also noted poverty and illness, with varying tones of moral condemnation (over personal hygiene, for example) or political outrage.

40 Richard White, "Overseas," in Bill Gammage and Peter Spearritt, eds., Australians: 1938 (Broadway, NSW, 1987), 439.

most common route had such currency among the privileged and the well-educated that the premier hotels in Colombo, the Grand Oriental Hotel, the Galle Face, and the hotel at Mt. Lavinia, were well known to Australians. Even by the turn of the century, Colombo was a well-trodden tourist site: as Louise Mack noted in her fictionalized account of her 1901 voyage, "Everybody does the same thing. At Mount Lavinia we meet our ship's people in hundreds."41

When Winifred James sailed for London from Melbourne in 1905, she, too, quite shrewdly turned her voyage to account by writing a fictionalized version of it as she went and incorporating it into her first book, Bachelor Betty, aimed at a popular audience and an instant success when published in London in 1907.42 Her detailed narrative showed that Australian women en route to London quickly learned much about the interconnectedness of different points of the empire. Betty, the narrator, describes the other passengers with whom she shared the voyage, especially at mealtimes:

At the table next to mine sit . . . a Ceylon tea-planter returning after eight months in Australia, a Sydney girl on a visit to Colombo, and another bound for Cairo to stay with her brother, who is doctor to the Khedive; two very nice nurses, one the matron of a big hospital in New South Wales, and the other a sister who went through the war in South Africa and has travelled pretty well everywhere; . . . and a cheery little Australian whose sister-in-law married a cricketer and afterwards became a countess.

Lower down is a table of uneaten missionaries and their wives . . . But mine! It is absorbing, entrancing, epoch-making. There is never a dull moment or an expected one . . .

I sit at the head. On the right is a woman who is going to Manchester to join her sister in a milliner's shop. Next her is a Bradford man who has been for years up in the North of Queensland pearl fishing. He has also picked up some opals. On his feet he wears brown canvas shoes, on his back a khaki jacket, and on his hands samples of the pearls he has fished and the opals he has digged. In between the courses he and the milliner hold hands on the table. Opposite, the pearl fisher's brother . . .

Further along, Flora MacTavish and Donald Loch Lomond, the Scottish entertainers, converse together in a foreign tongue, occasionally translating that the conversation may become general . . . The last two to make up the company are a pantomime actress . . . and a silent, dark-browed man who is going to England to study for the Presbyterian ministry, but in the meantime is spending half his time drinking with the actress, and the other half strapped down in his berth.43

Thus the voyage exposed Australian subjects of the British Empire not only to multiple imperial sites but also to firsthand evidence of its dimensions, its commercial, religious, military, and cultural aspects, and the constant movement among all of them. This witnessing of constant movement may well have problema- tized Australians' sense of, to use Inderpal Grewal's phrase, "stable unitary identities of nation," as indeed their own voyages indicate the symbiotic relation-

41 Mack, Australian Girl, 26. On knowledge of India and Ceylon in Australia, see Beverley Kingston, "The Taste of India," Australian Cultural History 9 (1990)': 36-48.

42 See articles about James, "Out in Panama with William," Everylady's Journal (June 6, 1924): 424; and "To Be or Not to Be British?" The Home 14 (June 1, 1933): 24.

43 Winifred James, Bachelor Betty (London, 1907), 14-16.

ship between imperial and national identities, even though the centrality of imperial connections was always apparent.44

Significantly, at least some women discovered that it was not only white subjects of the empire who enjoyed the privileges of mobility and educational possibilities within and beyond it. The author of Eveiylady's Journal's 1930-1931 series "My Dream Trip Comes True" recounted that, when her ship left Colombo, her fellow passengers now included "a few Cingalese, young men for the most part, going home to complete their education at one of the Universities." It is especially telling that, seemingly casually and in passing, this writer construes the Cingalese men's voyages as "going home," just as hers was. Presumably, this usage was not the outcome of their having employed this phrase in conversation but of her projecting her own emotional-imperial relationship to England onto them. This telling usage indicates that, to the writer, because these young men were well educated and bound for an English university, their class positioning overrode their race and thus fixed their imperial-national identity: if you were a well-educated and at least middle-class subject of the empire, then England must be "home" to Besides the young Cingalese men, her new fellow passengers also included "several Indians," one a professor of psychology from a university in Bengal on his way to France and another an "interesting Indian, quite handsome and debonair, [who] was on his way to the Chicago University to complete a dental course." The serial writer reported her conversations with these two Indian men at length. She had discussions with the professor about the occult, mysticism, and education (both religious and secular) among Indians. With the "handsome and debonair" man, she learned why studying dentistry at Chicago was a better option than studying it in England, which she had assumed "set the standard of the world in such things." After summarizing these conversations, she observed, "It is interesting to learn that the educated Indian considers his colour due to climatic conditions. This point had never struck me before, until I spoke to two or three men, whom I thought were half-caste-they were so brown. I was amazed to find they were English, going home after five or six years on the sugar plantations; so possibly there might be something to this theory after a11."4Vhe writer manages, in this short discussion, to suggest at once that the theory of skin color as product of climate was put to her by one of the Indian passengers, that she herself thought of it as a consequence of talking to dark-skinned Englishmen, and that it was a theory she had long heard of and previously rejected. These rhetorical moves suggest her awareness that readers might well find the theory unacceptable, or at least controversial, but the overall effect of the discussion is one of persuading the reader of its plausibility. The combined effect of advancing this theory-with its implication of racial difference as socially and culturally constructed and therefore in some sense not real-and even-handedly describing both the young Cingalese students and the Englishmen from the sugar plantations as "going home" is to assert the imperial equivalence of

44 Grewal, Home and Harem, 3.

45 On the complex meanings of "home" in relation to Indian travelers, see Grewal, Home and Harem, esp. chap. 4. John Western discusses the ambiguity of the term "home" in A Passage to England: Barbadian Londoners Speak of Home (Minneapolis, Minn., 1992).

46 "My Dream Trip Comes True: The Experiences and Adventures of an Australian Woman Journalist on Sea and Land," Evelylady's Journal (January 1, 1931): 14.

all who can claim at least respectable or bourgeois class status. But it is noteworthy, too, that the writer, traveling with a woman friend, seems to move at her ease and without comment or excuse among English, Indian, and Cingalese men, enjoying conversations equally with all of them, without regard to either racial barriers or gender prohibitions.

For Australian passengers, learning more about the empire, its constituent parts and the interconnections among them, was in part a process of learning specific dimensions to Australia's location within the empire. On board ship, they discov- ered, if they were not already aware of them, details of Australia's economic contributions to the empire, such as Winifred James's story about the pearl fishing and opal mining in which the Bradford man had engaged, commercial and recreational connections like the Ceylon tea-planter who had spent eight months in Australia, religious connections such as those embodied by the "uneaten mission- aries" and the "dark-browed man" headed to England to study for the Presbyterian ministry, and the existence of an empire-wide entertainment circuit, whose participants included the likes of Flora MacTavish and Donald Loch Lomond. James's glancing reference to cricket in Bachelor Betty (through the Australian whose sister-in-law married a cricketer) drew on popular sporting aspects of imperial culture and identity: Australians' valorization of cricket was a self-conscious double assertion of belonging to the empire and of their own skills at the sport. Thus when Australian passengers en route to Britain played cricket as a highly favored deck sport, they were not only passing the time during long days at sea, they were also celebrating their perspective that Australia was, in Louise Mack's words, "The Land of Cri~keters."~7

Another of James's glancing references is even more indicative of Australia's location within the empire: her mention of the nursing sister "who went through the war in South Africa" invokes Australia's involvement in the Boer War, when Australian colonial expeditionary forces sailed to South Africa to fight on behalf of imperial interests there and a few Australian women served as nurses.

Throughout the early decades of the twentieth century, Australia's involvement in imperial wars heightened the significance of the voyage to Britain. If the Boer War lent special meaning to calling at Durban and Cape Town, from 1914 onward Australia's role in World War I added new layers of meaning to sailing through the Suez Canal and landing in Egypt. In the eastern Mediterranean especially, following the April 1915 landing of Australian troops on the Gallipoli peninsula, proximity to Gallipoli became charged with patriotic significance; that disastrous defeat by the Turks was represented as the birthplace of Australian nationhood. Letters written after the war speak to continuing military-imperial associations. Feminist suffragist activist Vida Goldstein, who had already been to England in 1911 as a guest lecturer of the Women's Social and Political Union, in 1919 sailed for England partly to attend the international women's peace conference in Switzerland. She wrote back to Australia, passing through the Suez Canal:

At day light a few of us were up & as we saw Australian soldiers watching our ship gliding through the canal, we sent out ringing "Coo-ees," which were answered most joyously. The

47 Mack, Australian Girl, 17-19.

exchange of greetings brought out half-awake soldiers from their tents, & passengers from their cabins, & for the rest of the day there was keen excitement as we saw more & more of our men on the banks of the canal, on the "Sardinia," homeward bound & anchored almost alongside us at Port Said & in the town itself where we spoke to several men stationed there who had not spoken to Australian women for four years . . .

There was great excitement as we passed quite close to the "Sardinia" & exchanged goodbyes with our soldiers. I called out "Are you glad to be going home?" You should have heard the roars of delight from hundreds of throats! From the decks hundreds of handkerchiefs were waved, & from every porthole there waved everything wavable handkerchiefs, towels, shirts, puttees, & even plates! We had a very homesick feeling as the cheering died away in the distance, & the last wave was waved from those "on the way h0me."~8

Goldstein's characterization of the Australian soldiers on board the Sardinia as "on the way home" points to the ambiguity of the word "home" for an Australian headed to England, an ambiguity that the war itself may well have reinforced by strengthening the nationalistic meaning in the term, thus straining the assumption that the voyage from Australia to England began at one part of "home" and ended at the other, with the two parts conjoined by shared racial and cultural identity. Moreover, the emotionalism she describes of the exchanges between passengers headed for England and soldiers returning "home" suggests the power of the mutual establishment of Australian identity (especially through the Australian bush-call "coo-ee") in the exoticized albeit imperially controlled region of the Suez Canal. Goldstein's own apparent affectionate identification with these Australian soldiers ("our men") is rendered all the more powerful in light of her own destination, the international women's peace conference. The military-imperial markers that Australian women found significant were not limited to the Suez Canal in the aftermath of World War I: letter and diary writers also commented, for example, on the powerful impression that Gibraltar made on them, whether they sailed by it or stopped there, signifying British naval power in the Mediterranean and imperial strength more generally.

Australians knew much, of course, about the operations and the history of imperial power before they embarked. For my purposes in considering how the voyage to England, and the crash course in imperial race relations in other colonies that it constituted, shaped their own racialized subjectivities, it is perhaps most significant that all Australians were cognizant of the repression bordering on genocide of the Aborigines. Australians bound for England must have known (albeit to varying extents) that, since Europeans had claimed the continent in 1788, Aborigines had suffered terribly from European diseases, from loss of their land, and from warfare conducted on various levels, even though perhaps many Australians did not know that by 1900 the Aboriginal population had declined possibly by as much as 80 to 90 percent.49 By the turn of the twentieth century,

48 Fawcett Library, Vida Goldstein Papers, 7IVDG Box 67, VDG6 Manifold Book-Melb-Lond 1919, 40-41, 43.

4y Luke Trainor, British Imperialism and Australian Nationalism: Manipulation, Conflict and Com- promise in the Late Nineteenth Centuy (Cambridge, 1994), 82. On the history of Aboriginal-white relations in Australia, see Henry Reynolds, The Other Side of the Frontier; Aboriginal Resistance to the European Invasion of Australia (Ringwood, Vic., 1982); and Gordon Briscoe, "Aboriginal Australian

Aboriginal people sustained traditional livelihoods only in areas remote from white settlement. Those who survived within the parameters of white-settled areas were contained on reserves, on land not considered valuable, or were in the employ of white pastoralists and farmers, or were the wards of missionaries. Aborigines were excluded from the category of citizens under the constitution when Australia became a federation in 1901; they were denied voting rights and excluded from the national census. The White Australia policy, embodied in colonial legislation beginning in 1888 and culminating in the federal 1901 Australian Immigration Restriction Act, was designed to curb the immigration of Chinese people especially, as well as other Asians and Pacific Islanders; it was driven by eugenicist fears and worries about internal economic competition. But this assertion that "Australians" were white, a cornerstone of national identity as it was elaborated in the debates leading up to federation and promulgated by the first national parliament, made clear the official subjugation of Aborigines.so

Because most Australians lived in coastal and near-coastal cities and towns, from which Aborigines had been mostly removed, especially in the densely colonized southeastern states, Aborigines did not figure largely in the consciousness of most Australians bound for England in the early twentieth century. Even though Australia itself was a colonizing power in relation to Papua (New Guinea) and the peoples of Melanesia, when confronted with racial hierarchies in other British colonies, Austra- lians usually failed to reflect on Australian race relations or draw any comparisons. One exception to this rule occurs in the Billabong series of novels for older children, written by Mary Grant Bruce in the first three decades of the century, about three teenagers who live on a sheep station in Victoria. From Billabong to London is set during World War I and tells the story of the Billabong family's voyage to London in order for nineteen-year-old Jim and his mate Wally to enlist there. Jim's father and sister Norah accompany the soon-to-be soldiers, and as their ship is pulling into Durban harbor Norah exclaims over her first sight of "Kaffirs," a group of laborers on the wharf. She is excited to see them, she explains to the ship's doctor, because "it's so queer to me to be in a country where there are coloured people everywhere. I can't help feeling excited." The doctor, who is English, asks her if she has seen Aborigines, and she explains that, although she has, "There are not so very many left now, you know, especially in Victoria; they are dying out fast, and the remaining ones are principally kept in their special settlements. And I never remember enough of them to make it seem that they were really the people of the country." The doctor expresses pity for the Aborigines, to which Jim responds disgustedly: "They're a most unpleasant crowd-the lowest, I believe, in the scale of civilisation. Useless, shifty, lazy, thieving-you can't trust many of them. They will steal, and they won't work." In comparison, the doctor, who is positioned as the expert on "Kaffirs" because of his repeated stops in Africa,

Identity: The Historiography of Relations between Indigenous Ethnic Groups and Other Australians, 1788 to 1988," History Workshop 36 (Autumn 1993): 133-61.

On the history of the White Australia policy and of Aborigines in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Geoffrey Bolton, gen. ed., The Oxford History of Australia, Vol. 3: Beverley Kingston, 1860-1900, Glad, Confident Morning (Melbourne, 1988); Vol. 4: Stuart Macintyre, 19011942, The SucceedingAge (Melbourne, 1986); and Patricia Grimshaw, Marilyn Lake, Ann McGrath, and Marian Quartly, Creating a Nation (Ringwood, Vic., 1994), esp. chaps. 6, 8, 12.

admits that "Kaffirs" will "work well enough7' but contends that "Big animals-that's all they are," as he proceeds to toss pennies and halfpennies onto the wharf in order to produce a scene of the African laborers falling over each other to claim the c0ins.5~

If most Australians did not draw comparisons between the colonial racial hierarchy they took for granted in ~ustralia and those they witnessed at other colonies, the phraseology they employed to describe what they saw immediately indicates that they invoked the privileges of being white in an imperial hierarchy of color. In their letters home, their diaries, and their fictionalized accounts of their own voyages, Australian women used the term "coolies7' for all native laborers regardless of whether they were describing Colombo, Bombay, Aden, or Port Said.52 Racist subscriptions included the taxonomy of peoples in various ports, with a consensus of opinion that, in Dr. Vera Scantlebury Brown's words, referring to Port Said (and presumably in comparison with Colombo and Aden), "As we have come up, the black people have ascended in the scale of humanity but although more intelligent they are not so picturesque."53

It is probably no surprise that, in complete disregard of geography, after having sailed thousands of miles both west and north, Australian women would arrive in Colombo and exclaim over the magic and charm of "The East." Louise Mack's version


of this reaction describes waking up in Colombo one morning: "I sit up in my berth and look through my porthole and see a foreign sail cut clear against a misty rose and onyx sky; a tall, brown, curving sail leaning above a low, brown, dhow, and in the dhow a black man guiding his craft. The East! the East! the East! That is my first glimpse of the East! How it thrills! how it Mack's reaction to Colombo expresses the mysticism ascribed to colonized cultures by orientalist discourses, which assumed the metropolitan Western European perspective of the globe.55

For Vida Goldstein, such mysticism could not compensate for the greater appeal of the Occident. In 1919, her ship's stop in Bombay extended to ten days while part of the ship was converted from troop to passenger accommodation, during which time she and her traveling companion Cecilia John, contrary to advice and to the other passengers, freely visited the "native quarters." Goldstein used the opportunity to inform herself about, and to write back to Australia about the growth of, the Indian passive resistance movement led by Gandhi in the wake of the Rowlatt Acts, which

51 Mary Grant Bruce, From Billabong to London (London and Melbourne, [1915]), 145-47. Bruce herself sojourned and worked in London, sailing there in 1913.

52 For James's "Betty," at least one group of "coolies" was a spectacle to be "snapshotted." Bachelor Betty, 34. In another example of reducing non-Anglo-Saxons into an undifferentiated Other, E. Carpenter, in London for postgraduate medical research in 1933, wrote: "I had a lovely trip over on the Orama; the ports of call were most interesting, Colombo, Aden, Suez and Naples with chattering natives everywhere." News Sheet of the Women's College. . . [University of Sydney], no. 2 (1933). I am grateful to Ros Pesman for her suggestion to look at women's college newsletters.

53 University of Melbourne Archives, Vera Scantlebury Brown Papers, Diary letters 1917-July 1918, Al, 1.

54 Mack,Australian Girl, 20-21. In 1928, twenty-one-year-old kindergarten teacher Hope (Macindoe) McPhee had a similar reaction, even farther west and north on an excursion she took from the boat, to her first sight of Cairo: "Out of the barren desert we suddenly viewed the great city of Cairo with its dooms [sic]& spires-The East!!" Hope (Macindoe) McPhee's journal, "Wanderings in Wonder- land," entry for September 22-23, 1928. Courtesy Jan Harper, Melbourne.

55 The foundational analysis of this topic is, of course, Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978). For a feminist analysis of the multiplicity of orientalisms, see Lisa Lowe, Critical Terrains: French and British Orientalisms (Ithaca, N.Y., 1991).

master race, the metropolitan country and the metropolitan culture, an identification central to their understanding of their own whiteness.

AN EXPERIENCE RECOMMENDED AS ESSENTIAL for the passenger-tourist in both Colombo and Durban was to ride in a rickshaw. It was an activity that provoked strong reactions, reactions that provide us with evidence of Australian women's thoughts and feelings about the mutually constitutive workings of race and class in these colonial contexts. For Louise Mack in Colombo, the experience was tran- scendentally sublime:

The first ride in a rickshaw is a tremendous sensation. You feel like a queen. You own the whole world. You have a man-a flesh-and-blood man-running in harness between the shafts of your tall, black perambulator with two big wheels, and a hood that goes up and down. Off he tears. His rate is desperately swift. He is so thin that you fear he will break in pieces, that you will be arrested for cruelty to dumb animals. Bones stick out of his shoulders, elbows, knees and feet. He is a very highly-polished trotter. His skin catches the sun on it and shines like a looking-glass. Through the warm electric air you dash. Your spirits go up, and up, and up. You try to remember Sydney. How far, far away it seems! Its trams and 'buses and trains and wide, white streets seem to exist only in a dream . . . [Ylou have changed your identity. All responsibilities vanish down the scented street. A great hand seems to slap you back into the primeval gaiety of a simple savage.58

But others were far more critical of the practice and more earnest about their feelings of guilt. In contrast to Mack's joyous delight in her own transformation into a queen enjoying the services of an animal-subject, Stella Bowen reported that she "felt miserably apolog[e]tic to the slim brown creature who padded along between the shafts."SY Unlike the fragile-looking rickshaw men in Colombo, rickshaw pullers in Durban were apparently spectacular, the Zulu men in the shafts often being tall and highly decorated, wearing brightly colored and embroidered clothes, bangles, paint, and, most dramatic, headdresses consisting of bullock horns, quills, pampas grass, and feathers.6O Most Australians who visited Durban engaged a Zulu rickshaw puller at least once and seem to have found the experience exciting. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, however, in 1926 on her way to England, where she would study at Oxford, found that she and her family "did not enjoy our one ride," which she attributed to the fact that, "coming . . . from a society more egalitarian than that of South Africa, it seemed terrible to us that one human being should use another as horse-p0wer."6~

While these reactions range from delight to condemnation, each shows that the writer was well aware that the axes of class and race had placed her in a position of power over the rickshaw man. Louise Mack's image of having been "slapped back" into a "simple savage" suggests that the pleasure she took in the experience could only be explained by being in a state of savagery; to be able to openly enjoy having

58 Mack, A~~stralianGirl, 23-24.

59 Bowen, Drawn from Life, 31.

60 Descriptions of Zulu rickshaw pullers are in Katharine Susannah Prichard, Child of the Hurricane: An Autobiography (London, 1964), 112; Bruce, From Billabong to London, 148-53; and Kathleen

Fitzpatrick, Solid Bluestone Foundations: Memories of an Australian Girlhood (Ringwood, Vic., 1986),

182, and photo opposite 103.

61 Fitzpatrick, Solid Bluestone Foundations, 182.

that much power over another human being required a lower racial or evolutionary stage. Yet she also employs the image of being a queen, of occupying the highest social rank available to a woman; thus the combined metaphorical effect is of her white racial identity being effaced at the same time as she is elevated to royalty. One possible interpretation is that, while being white entails privileges such as rickshaws, its responsibilities supposedly preclude overt enjoyment of racial power. All three writers draw on images of animals-"trotter," "creature," and "horsen-suggesting that the degradation to the rickshaw puller is so severe that it goes beyond differences of race and class to that of species, human versus animal. It is as though, in the context of exoticized colonialism (as opposed to the colonialism to which they are inured), the workings of race and class are not easily recognized but rather are distorted or exacerbated.

While negotiating axes of class and race within the precarious and constant construction of colonialism, women passengers also negotiated their own gendered subject positions. Because historically and culturally, travel has been defined as a male prer~gative,~~

a paramount gendered aspect of traveling, especially for the many women who were alone or with other women, was a sense of breaking through bounds, of liberation, even for those whose gender transgression was less dramatic than that of "Jane" who stowed away. Annie Duncan, who sailed for England in 1893 and was to become a pioneering woman factory inspector in both England and Australia, left her role as her sister's domestic assistant partly because her sister no longer needed her, partly because she wanted to see her brother in London, and partly because, having passed the age of thirty, she believed that she was now beyond marriage prospects and in some sense her life was her own to make. In a tone of exhilaration that contrasted with her demeanor on leaving her sister, she later recorded in her memoir: "After a day or two, when well away from the Australian coast, we got into smooth water, and had no more rough seas till we got to the Bay of Biscay, and there began for me the passion for travel that still possesses me."63 Duncan exemplifies the fact that travel abroad for women often could only be attained if and when they were free of domestic, familial obligations.64 Existing alongside women's perceptions of travel as liberating, however, at least prior to World War I, was a cultural attitude described by writer Katharine

62 A major reason for this masculinist assumption is that, as Robin Gerster argued persuasively, there is a profound link in Western culture between travel writing and narratives of war that can be traced back to Homer and The Iliad. Gerster, "Occidental Tourists: The 'Ugly Australian' in Vietnam War Narrative," in Peter Pierce, et al., eds., Vietnam Days: Australia and the Impact of Vietnam (Ringwood, Vic., 1991). Fussell makes the connection between war and travel apparent in Abroad, esp. 3-15; also on the connections between war and tourism, especially for Australians, see Richard White, "Sun, Sand and Syphilis: Australian Soldiers and the Orient; Egypt 1914," Australian Perceptions ofAsia: Australian Cultural History 9 (1990): 49-64. Several feminist scholars have been at pains to show the construct- edness of assumptions that travel is a male prerogative, such as Bonnie Frederick and Susan H. McLeod, eds., Women and the Journey: The Female Travel Experience (Pullman, Wash., 1993); and Robin Lucas and Clare Forster, eds., Wilder Shores: Women's Travel Stories of Australia and Beyond (St. Lucia, Qld., 1992). Sue Rowley has argued that in late nineteenth-century Australian cultural representations of the bush, while the metaphor of the journey carried crucial nationalist assumptions, women were represented only as occupying domestic space or embodying departure and return and were thus excluded from the national public arena. Rowley, "The Journey's End: Women's Mobility and Confinement," Australian Cultural History 10 (1991): 69-83.

Mortlock Library of South Australia, PRG 53216, Annie Duncan Papers, Book 2.

64 ROS Pesman captures the importance of this freedom in her title Duty Free.

Susannah Prichard: "a young woman, travelling alone, was not considered quite respectable."65 There were differing opinions whether young women (and no doubt it depended on age) ought to be chaperoned, and indeed at least some were chaperoned, especially before 1914.

When they toured the ports of call, women traveling alone were usually accompanied by other passengers because, it was believed, white women wandering on their own were exposing themselves to sexual danger. Annie Duncan set off to see Port Said with a group of other passengers, but when she and another woman "turned into a side-street to go to a shop for something[,] Mr. Simpson chased us, quite agitated: 'on no account were we to leave the party-we never knew what might happen to us in a place like Port Said.' "66 Port Said was notorious among passengers as the most "wicked" of the ports of call (presumably at least in part because prostitution was more overt there than at other ports, although Australian men had access to brothels in Colombo and probably elsewhere67), but such strictures about women staying with groups of passenger-tourists applied at other ports, too. The only account I have come across in which an Australian woman on her own ran into trouble is that of Prichard's first return trip to Australia, in 1909, when she defied advice not to go sightseeing by herself in Bombay and was threatened by the carriage driver she hired, who ignored her directions to the Towers of Silence and instead took her to "a congested native quarter" where he stopped and demanded more money while she was mauled by beggars. She escaped unharmed and was sternly lectured by her ship's captain the next day.68 In contrast to this one incident, which did not include sexual danger, and despite all the fear for women's safety on land, there are recurrent accounts of sexual harassment on board ship, often at the hands of the ship's officers but also by male pas~engers.~~

Women's testimonies of sexual harassment on shipboard stand in marked contrast to their representation as sexually vulnerable tourists at the ports of call. Whereas ships' officers and male passengers warned women that colonized men threatened sexual and moral danger, accounts of voyages suggest that the danger came not so much from subordinated men on land as from powerful and well-placed men at sea. Yet the inversion of represented danger and real harassment was facilitated by the complex question of women's sexual agency. At least one writer blamed women themselves for the sexual harassment to which they were subject on ships, because of "that worship of brass buttons that unfortunately characterises so many feminine traveller^."^^ In the contemporary fiction and other literature on women and sea travel, as well as in women's accounts of their own

65 Prichard, Child of the Hurricane, 116.

66 Mortlock Library of South Australia, PRG 53216, Annie Duncan Papers, Book 2.

G7 For example, artist Norman Lindsay sketched nude models procured for him by financier George Meudell-from a brothel in Colombo, when they were en route to England in 1909. Ross McMullin, Will Dyson: Cartoonist, Etcher and Australia's Finest War Artist (London, 1984), 57. 68 Prichard, Child of the Hurricane, 154-57.

The author of "When Suzie Went Steerage" described sexual harassment by ships' officers as a common problem for women traveling alone. The New Idea (April 6, 1911): 306. In 1898, Australian- born Maisie Smith, twenty years old and returning to Austra1,ia after being educated in England, despite being chaperoned, was persistently harassed by the ship's purser. Joan Kyffin Willington, ed., Maisie: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Letters, 1898 to 1902 (Kent Town, South Australia, 1992).

70 "When Suzie Went Steerage," The New Idea (April 6, 1911): 306.

voyages, there is a pervasive trope of the shipboard romance, in which women play roles as sexual or romantic actors and the ship's officers are sometimes the sexually or romantically pursued.71 It is probably relevant to women's being cast as sexual-romantic actors that, among passengers, women were often more numerous than men; according to Richard White, in 1938 there were about three women for every man in the twenties age group, and the disparity was greatest on ships bound for England.72 In fact, there is plenty of evidence that women considered themselves sexual subjects and took the initiative in shipboard flirtations and romances, some of which ended in marriage.7'

In a dramatic transgression of the assumption that, while women could be romantic or sexual actors on board, on land they were to be protected by white men, and in contradiction of the powerful prohibition against sexual relations between white women and men of color, Winifred James writes of her fictionalized persona being sexually attracted to a "rickshaw boy." In her 1907 novel, "Betty" and another woman passenger engage rickshaws to take them on a ride to some of the Colombo sights and arrive finally at the famous Cinnamon Gardens.

Then all at once the air becomes heavy and sweet with spicy odours. The sweating coolies stop and carefully lower the rickshaw shafts to the ground. They walk away to the bushes, and plucking some branches bring them to us and thrust them into our hands, bruising the leaves as they offer them. We are in the cinnamon gardens. And as the thieving, lying rickshaw boy, with only a short life before him by reason of his profession, pushes his bruised flowers into my hands and says softly, "Laydee, you take," a sudden savage longing for love and beauty comes over me, a glimpse of power and freedom, a desire for completion. And it is all in the magic of that wonderful voice that is half-lover, half-slave, and wholly- entreating

James was not the only one to identify the Cinnamon Gardens as a sensuous place,75 but "Betty's" unapologetic and seemingly inconsequential admission of powerful sexual desire aroused by the rickshaw "boy" is a striking assertion of female sexual subjectivity. Various scholars have identified the cultural link between travel and sexuality, but Eric Leed, Paul Fussell, and others assumed that the sexual actor is always male and that women are always sexual objects (although men can be sexual objects, too, for other men).76 Ronald Hyam's study of empire and sexuality is written entirely from a

71 Examples of shipboard romance stories include the short story "The Ways of a Woman" by Winifred James, The British-Australasian (June 30, 1910): 30-31; and "Are Women Less Loving on Liners? Being the Intimate Confessions of a Deck-Comber on the High Seas," by Caleb Mortimer, The Home 9 (October 1, 1928): 29, 70.

72 White, "Overseas," 441.

7Waisie Smith described women taking the initiative in flirtations on her voyage in 1898. Willington, Maisie. Actress and writer Mary Marlowe recalled in That Fragile Hour: An Autobiography (North Ryde, NSW, 1990) how, on her 1910 voyage to England with two actress friends, her two friends both fell in love, one with the ship's doctor and the other with a "Gibson man," and married upon reaching England. Marlowe described these shipboard romances in greater detail in her fictionalized account Kangaroos in King's Land: Being the Adventures of Four Australian Girls in England (London, 1917).

74 James, Bachelor Betty, 27.

75 Maisie Smith told her mother in a letter that the Cinnamon Gardens were so beautiful that "if there had been a suitable man about I would not have answered for the consequences (this is a joke)." Willington, Maisie, 27.

76 Eric J. Leed, The Mind of the Traveler: From Gilgamesh to Global Tourism (New York, 1991), esp. 113-17; Fussell, Abroad, passim but esp. 113-16.

masculinist per~pective.~~

Even feminist scholars have assumed that colonial sexual relations, particularly those associated with traveling, are always predicated on male sexual prerogatives. Rana Kabbani, who seeks to highlight the sexual dimensions of orientalist travel narratives, assumed that the writers of such narratives are always men and that women could only be "token tra~ellers."~X Winifred James's story here is an extraordinary contraversion of such assumptions. She suggests that the Australian woman traveler could take a position not only of power in terms of class and race (in whatever distorted or exacerbated form) but also of sexual subjectivity, indeed of sexual power, because, although she does not act on it, Betty is drawing sexual pleasure from the "thieving, lying rickshaw boy, with only a short life before him." It is perhaps significant that, almost immediately following her encounter with the rickshaw "boy," Betty condemns racism and colonialism at length: "Think of the overwhelming insolence of it all! We-a latter-day people with a pretty taste for thievery-have successfully filched their garden from these children of the sun, moon, and stars . . . And having stolen their paradise, we have turned them into servants and behaved to them as if they were dogs."7y

Yet later in the same text, Betty suggests the ease with which an Australian woman could, even in such a short visit, assume the perspective of one of the longer-term colonizers:

From Lady Hawley's we went on to the Garden Club, where all that is beautiful and manly and blue-blooded in Colombo meets, when the sun goes down, to play tennis and drink tea, and say divers things to and of each other . . . The verandah and balcony of the club-house were full of girls in muslin frocks and shady hats, and men in flannels. Through the lighted windows you could see the waiters moving about with trays of glasses . . . There was that lovely sense of brooding peace that comes with the dying away of day, with the stillness only broken by soft laughter and the tinkle of spoons and cups and saucers. If only things could always be beautiful and serene and gentle like that.RO

Betty fails to acknowledge the contradiction between enjoying this-the social center of privileged white society in Colombo-and her own earlier condemnation of colonialism. Indeed, her infatuation with the pleasures and ,privileges of colonialism for the colonizers is such that her last thought as her ship pulls out is, "Good-bye, you dear, lovely, beautiful place. I will come back to you again some day."X1 In this last telling moment, her condemnation of colonialism is erased and her identification with the white colonizers is complete. Betty's behavior and reactions to Colombo exemplify the ambivalence that Homi Bhabha has argued is central to colonial discourses that construct "'otherness' . . . [as] at once an object

77 Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience (Manchester, 1990).

78 Rana Kabbani, Europe's Myths of Orient (Bloomington, Ind., 1986), 7 and chap. 3. Analyses that are more informed by feminist theory but make similar assumptions include Blunt, Travel, Gender and Imperialism, 28, 36; and David Spurr, The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing, and Imperial Administration (Durham, N.C., 1993), chap. 11. Susan Morgan argues that while women's travel narratives are not "more innocent or less imperializing than men's," women do not write in tropes of sexual domination. Morgan, Place Matters, 17.

7y James, Bachelor Betty, 28.
James, Bachelor Betty, 37.
James, Bachelor Betty, 38.

of desire and derision."s2 On the one hand, she recognizes the humanity of the colonized people sufficiently to rail against the injustice of colonialism, and even to be sexually attracted to a colonized man, and on the other she ignores that same humanity in the process of enjoying the privileges of colonialism and asserting her own identity as part of the white elite.

While James's image of an Australian woman taking sexual pleasure from a rickshaw "boy" is admittedly extraordinary, it can be seen as perhaps the most dramatic example of many in these accounts of Australian women's articulation of their whiteness in specific colonial contexts. James's assertion of Betty's sexual desire, in contravention of the racialized sexual codes of the South Asian colonial context, which Jenny Sharpe has shown were greatly exacerbated in the later nineteenth century, which E. M. Forster was to sensationalize in 1924, and which resembled codes elaborated in colonial Au~tralia,~~ demonstrates that it was possible for an Australian woman to assert her racial identity as overriding her sex. William W. Stowe has argued that a characteristic of the genre of nineteenth- century travel writing is its polyvocality, in which authors mix generic styles in the one text and move around between feminine and masculine voices, a mobility of particular significance to women writers.S4 While this suggests that James may well have been drawing on an established tradition in positioning her narrator as a masculinized sexual actor in her reaction to the rickshaw "boy," it has also been suggested by feminist scholars such as Alison Blunt and Katherine Frank that, at least in some colonial contexts, white women's race transcended their sexual and gender identities at moments when they were addressed and treated as white men.85 James may well have thought it permissible for Betty to express this reaction (and after all, the passage does not include the word sex) because her temporary identity as a colonizer in Colombo allowed her the enjoyment of power. This temporary identity was ambiguous in its gendered meanings (she might not walk around alone because she was a white woman, but she held power over the rickshaw "boy" that she presents as sexual, a masculinized position), but it clearly centered on her racial identity as a (privileged) white person. The evidence provided by James and Louise Mack in her evocation of the thrill of riding in .a rickshaw contradicts, for example, Sara Mills's argument that women travel writers in colonial situations were "unable to adopt the imperialist voice with the ease with which male writers did," and that even though women partially struggled against "discourses of femininity," those discourses nevertheless rendered them "counter-hegemonic voices within colonial discour~e."~~

I would argue, in contrast, that James and Mack in their fictionalized

8z Homi K. Bhabha, "The Other Question . . . :The Stereotype and Colonial Discourse," Screen 24, no. 6 (1983): 19.

83 Jenny Sharpe, Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in the Colonial Text (Minneapolis, Minn., 1993); E. M. Forster, A Passage to India (New York, 1924). For an insightful analysis of the sexual vulnerability of a white woman to Aboriginal men as a foundational Australian myth, see Kay Schaffer, "Colonizing Gender in Colonial Australia: The Eliza Fraser Story," in Alison Blunt and Gillian Rose, eds., Writing Women and Space: Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies (New York, 1994), 101-20.

s4 Stowe, Going Abroad, 106-24.

85 Blunt, Travel, Gender and Imperialism, 105; Katherine Frank, "Voyages Out: Nineteenth-Century Women Travelers in Africa," in Janet Sharistanian, ed., Gender, Ideology and Action: Historical Perspectives on Women's Public Lives (Westport, Conn., 1986), 71-72. Birkett makes a similar point in Spinsters Abroad, 116.

Mills, Discourses of Difference, 3, 22-23. Reina Lewis argues along similar lines to Mills when she

accounts show that at least some white Australian women in these contexts centrally identified themselves as among the colonial elite, and that their voices, while not fixed, express imperial authority with considerable ease.

As various scholars argue, whiteness can be read as the assertion of privilege, power, and historically specific, gender and class-related cultural identity in a racially hierar- chical social system.87 Within this field of meaning, Australian women's recognition of their own culturally defined modernity and urbanity, their identification of Australia as integrally involved in imperial military and commercial enterprises, their assumption of privileged class status in relation to poorer people in their own society as well as colonized people both in Australia and at the ports of call, and their enjoyment or use of racially marked privileges such as rickshaws can all be seen as elements in the articulation of their own whiteness. In the context of eugenicist racial discourses elaborated from the late nineteenth century onward, Australians' evolving construc- tions of whiteness were most prominently crystallized in the White Australia policy. Despite her concern about the living conditions of the native people whom she had observed, Vida Goldstein drew these conclusions in 1911:

I left Colombo believing more firmly than ever in the wisdom of a White Australia. At this stage in our civilisation the black and white cannot dwell together without both deteriorat- ing-in spite of American experience. The coloured man takes all the vices of the white man, and the white man becomes dehumanised. He is so accustomed to being waited on hand and foot that he never does a thing for himself when he can get a coloured man to do it, and he is so full of contempt for the coloured man that he sees everything out of focus, and his tendency is to live only for himself and in himself.88

Goldstein here identifies dehumanizing and exploitative dimensions to colonial society in Ceylon and sees white people as corrupted by it. Yet, in supporting the White Australia policy and ignoring its implications, both for the Asians to whom it applied and who already constituted a minority population in Australia and for Aborigines whose elision from citizenship the term "White Australia" made clear, Goldstein is acceding to the privileges of whiteness. The fact that she identifies racially structured societies as existing in Ceylon and America but not Australia is connected to her being from Melbourne: she had probably never seen Aboriginal people working as employees or servants of white people as they did in pastoral areas. That she seems unaware of the coexistence of black and white in Australia is not surprising, given urban white Australians' low level of consciousness of the plight of Aboriginal people. Australian women who embarked for England from the 1890s onward must have known something of the White Australia policy and therefore, at some level, understood that as Australian subjects and citizens they were enjoying privileges of whiteness denied to Asian people and, of course, to Aborigines. The significance of their accounts of their

writes that exploring "women's representation of the Orient will allow us to undercut the mastery" of the Western viewer's position. Lewis, Gendering Orientalism, 15.

Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire, 8, 11, 100, 105. Useful definitions of whiteness are given by Ruth Frankenberg in "Growing Up White," 53-54; and in her book White Women, Race Matters, esp. 1, 2, 6; and Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness, esp. 12-13. Another useful book is Vron Ware, Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism and Histoy (London, 1992).

Woman Voter (April 1911), quoted in Janette M. Bomford, That Dangerous and Persuasive Woman: Vida Goldstein (Carlton, Vic., 1993), 105.

voyages to England and their interactions with colonized people at the ports of call is that they articulated the meanings of that whiteness in relation to both Australia and the larger context of the British Empire.

BYDRAWING especially on the accounts of two Australian feminists, Winifred James and Vida Goldstein, I have attempted to explore how even women who condemned some aspects of colonialism still acceded to its privileges and the privileges of whiteness. Antoinette Burton has demonstrated powerfully how Victorian and Edwardian British feminists furthered their own political cause by claiming to speak for Indian women.S9 Identifying Australian women's articulation of colonial whiteness allows us to see another historically important process of the elaboration and deployment of racial privilege. If we are to grasp the heterogeneity and hybridity of the imperial metropolis itself (as well as other imperial locations), we need to consider the ways in which colonial visitors and residents constructed and represented their own imperial status, the ways in which they articulated, to use Reina Lewis's phrase, their "contradictory p~sitionalities."~~

James's and Gold- stein's reactions to Colombo reveal that even the one to two-day coaling stops made by their steamships provided women with opportunities for obsemation of and, to a slight degree, participation in unfamiliar, racially ordered colonial society.

As a writer who lived and worked in London for decades, James underscores Paul Gilroy's injunction that we need to pay more attention to insiderioutsiders and illustrates my claim for the significance of looking at white women from the dominions as examples of historical subjects whose positioning marks the contradictions inherent to colonialism. James was a principal actor in the fight for the right of women married to foreigners to retain British nationality. She married an American citizen in 1913 and was divorced from him in 1927. Living back in London from the early 1920s, she became increasingly incensed by the loss of her British national-imperial status and joined the feminist struggle over this issue in the early 1930s. In 1933, she refused any longer to register as an alien, claiming that she was prepared to show the world "a British woman being sent to jail for loyalty to her country,"91 and the Home Office finally agreed to exempt women in her situation from regi~tration.~Z

But this was not the first time James had assertively conflated British imperial and Australian national identity. In Bachelor Betty, her protagonist engaged in a heated argument with an American woman in London about the British monarchy, which she strongly defended, and the American woman questioned her place as an Australian to defend it. Trying to explain the heat with which she replied to the American, Betty comments: "I am the most peace-loving creature alive, but when some one comes along and accuses me of

ay Antoinette Burton, Burdens of Histoiy: British Feminists, Indian Women, and Imperial Culture, 1865-1915 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1994).

YO Lewis, Gendering Orientalism, 238. An important study of colonialism in the imperial metropolis is Antoinette Burton, At the Heart of the Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain (Berkeley, forthcoming).

91 "Miss Winifred James Recovers Her Nationality," The British Australian and New Zealander (July 25, 1935): 19.

y2 In November 1933, the British Nationality and Status,of Aliens Act was amended such that British women married to aliens could keep their nationality. 23 & 24 Geo. 5, c. 49. For details of this episode in a longer feminist struggle and the legislative changes, see The Times (February 4, 1933): 7 col. g; (June 24, 1933): 8 col. d; (June 28, 1933): 8 col. b; (July 5, 1933): 7 cols. a-b; (November 10, 1933): 7 col. d.

being an outsider and a hanger-on, and a snob into the bargain, I, as an integral part of the Empire, feel it a sacred duty to hit out."93 Betty's anger indicates the strength of her own identification as an insider of the British empire and her resentment that being Australian could mean being seen as an outsider. Moreover, her claim to be "an integral part of the Empire" is an instructive one in light of her condemnation of the injustices of colonialism in Colombo. What James suggests here is the acceptance of the existence, even by those who questioned some aspects, of colonialism and of the privileges of whiteness. Winifred James provides one answer to Ann Stoler's question about what investments white women had in racism: insisting that as an Australian woman Betty was "an integral part of the Empire," James signaled her acceptance of her own implication within the colonial system in its multiple facets, in order to accept its privileges and to maximize her own positioning in British society.

If we are to appreciate fully the ways in which colonialism was imbricated within the metropolis itself during the decades when the British Empire was at its largest and most powerful (as opposed to only in the wake of World War 11, as has often been assumed), we need not only to know of the Australian and other dominion and colonial women and men of all ethnicities who were temporary or permanent residents there. We need also to see the connections among the settler colonies or dominions and the other colonies, and to consider the complicity of dominion subjects in the colonial system. Australians going "home" witnessed variegated aspects of colonialism and participated in the privileges of being white colonizers, often privileges that were new even for people inured to the domination of black indigenous inhabitants. The ways in which women from the dominions, themselves partially outsiders in the imperial metropolis and simultaneously facing subordina- tion as women within the colonial hierarchy, understood their own whiteness constitute a factor that we need to make visible in the complicated historical pattern of the racialized and gendered hierarchy of British col~nialism.~~

93 James, Bachelor Betty, 147.

g4 A recent articulation of the need to examine the complexity of relational positionings within hierarchical systems is Susan Stanford Friedman, "Beyond White and Other: Relationality and Narratives of Race in Feminist Discourse," Signs 21 (Autumn 1995): 1-49.

Angela Woollacott is an associate professor of modern British and imperial history who teaches in the women's studies program at Case Western Reserve University. Her publications include On Her Their Lives Depend: Munitions Workers in the Great War (1994) and, co-edited with Miriam Cooke, Gendering War Talk (1993), as well as essays that explore several gendered issues related to British women's participation in and experiences of World War I and historical change. The larger project from which this article is drawn is her study of the thousands of Australian women who were attracted to their imperial metropolis at the turn of the twentieth century. Its central themes will include the intersections among white colonialism, modernity, and gender, as well as empire-wide feminist activism and questions of national versus imperial history.

  • Recommend Us