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  • Published: 3 Aug 2016
  • DOI: 10.4324/9781138641839-HOF7-1


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • The Roots of Imperial Feminism
  • Fictions of Global Sisterhood
  • Female Emancipation beyond Imperialism
  • Looking Forward toward the Feminist Past
  • Select Bibliography

Race, Empire, and the Making of Western Feminism


Traditions and practices of western feminism are steeped in histories of race and empire to such a degree that western movements can and should be thought of as expressions of “imperial feminism.” Slavery and imperial expansion helped to shape this phenomenon: women and men who sought female emancipation, and especially political rights, drew on images of the enslaved and colonized to make their case. Despite convictions about international sisterhood and the organizations to support it, non-western women were not viewed as equals. Those women had their own agendas which sometimes overlapped with western women’s movements but were more shaped by anti-colonial nationalist solidarities.