White Women in Racialized Spaces

Imaginative Transformation and Ethical Action in Literature

Edited by Samina Najmi & Rajini Srikanth

Subjects: Literary Criticism
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Paperback : 9780791454787, 284 pages, August 2002
Hardcover : 9780791454770, 284 pages, August 2002

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Table of contents

Elizabeth Ammons


1. Introduction
Samina Najmi and Rajini Srikanth

Part I: Brown on White

2. South Asians and the Complex Interstices of Whiteness: Negotiating Public Sentiment in the United States and Britain
Susan Koshy

3. Whiteness and Soap-Opera Justice: Comparing the Louise Woodward and Manjit Basuta Cases
Monali Sheth

4. Mother Teresa as the Mirror of Bourgeois Guilt
Vijay Prashad

Part II: White American Womanhood

5. Ventriloquism in the Captivity Narrative: White Women Challenge European American Patriarchy
Rajini Srikanth

6. "Those Indians Are Great Thieves, I Suppose?": Historicizing the White Woman in The Squatter and the Don
Peter A. Chvany

7. "Let Me Play Desdemona": White Heroines and Interracial Desire in Louisa May Alcott's "My Contraband" and "M.L."
Diana R. Paulin

8. "Getting in Touch with the True South": Pet Negroes, White Crackers, and Racial Staging in
Zora Neale Hurston's Seraph on the Suwanee
Delia Caparoso Konzett

9. Prison, Perversion, and Pimps: The White Temptress in The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Iceberg Slim's Pimp
Terri Hume Oliver

10. Subject Positions in Elizabeth Bishop's Representations of Whiteness and the "Other"
Zhou Xiaojing

Part III: The Global "Memsahib"

11. How Can a White Woman Love a Black Woman? The Anglo-Boer War and Possibilities of Desire
Paula M. Krebs

12. From Betrayal to Inclusion: The Work of the White Woman's Gaze in Claire Denis's Chocolat
Céline Philibert

13. The Imperial Feminine: Victorian Women Travellers in Egypt
Melissa Lee Miller

14. Chinese Coolies, Hidden Perfume, and Harriet Beecher Stowe in Anna Leonowens's The Romance of the Harem
Susan Morgan

About the Contributors


Explores the unique relationship between white women and racial Others in a wide variety of literary works.


At once racially privileged and sexually marginalized, white women have been energetic in calling for solidarity among all women in opposing patriarchy, but have not been equally motivated to examine their own racial privilege. White Women in Racialized Spaces turns primarily to literature to illuminate the undeniable blind spots in white women's comprehension of their advantage. The contributors cover extensive historical ground, from early captivity narratives of white women in seventeenth-century America up to the present-day trials of Louise Woodward and Manjit Basuta, both British nannies accused of causing the deaths of their infant charges in the United States. Their wide-ranging discussions also include representations of white women in Native American, Latin American, African, Asian, and Middle Eastern contexts. The volume ultimately makes the case that, by creating alternative scenarios to particular ethical, political, or emotional problems against which readers and characters test their responses, literature forms an ideal vehicle for exploring white women's actual and potential roles in their efforts to undercut the oppressive force of whiteness.

Samina Najmi is Visiting Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at Babson College. Rajini Srikanth is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the coeditor, with Lavina Dhingra Shankar, of A Part, Yet Apart: South Asians in Asian America.


"The most striking feature of this volume is the unique variation of subject matter it adjoins to an increasingly popular, yet still somewhat elusive, object of inquiry: 'whiteness.' Without question, it represents a worthwhile contribution to a debate that is still unfolding." — Mike Hill, editor of Whiteness: A Critical Reader