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Cover of Women: a cultural review

Women: a cultural review

Volume 21, Issue 3, Dec 2010
Pages 279-291

  • DOI: 10.1080/09574042.2010.513491
  • Print ISSN: 0957-4042
  • Online ISSN: 1470-1367

Victorian ‘Anti-racism’ and Feminism in Britain

Towards the end of the nineteenth century some individuals, such as the African-American Ida B. Wells, began to write about the close connections between racial prejudice and the politics of gender within the emerging civil rights and feminist movements. The historical geographies of such debates in Britain, debates that challenged racial prejudice within Britain, the British empire and in other parts of the globe, are relatively underexamined. Our knowledge of the extent to which these debates became aligned with first-wave feminist ideas is also limited. This article highlights one of the women, Catherine Impey, who was key to an emerging British discussion that critiqued racial prejudice in the British empire. Her journal, Anti-Caste, in which these discussions were aired was read by early feminists such as Wells and Isabella Ormston Ford. However, although Impey was supportive of some issues associated with the feminist movement, such as the demand for female suffrage, she is absent from feminist historiography. Through the example of the anti-caste movement, this article considers the extent to which the early feminist movement in Britain aligned itself with forms of prejudice beyond those of gender, and how the overlapping of such debates might have determined the extent to which Catherine Impey played a part in the emerging women's movement.