By Eamon Wright (auth.)
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Extra info for British Women Writers and Race, 1788–1818: Narrations of Modernity
Her discussion of London immigrants and emigrants (Irish, Jews and Negroes) was constructed solely around poverty and the poor law, her overall thesis being that the settlement laws, vagrancy laws and poor relief structured economic dependency. Crucially, two themes run through such a discussion: charitable relief and population control. Both were techniques of treatment, in that late eighteenth-century British poor laws defined segments of the population and prescribed what was to happen to them.
That is, it was a period of transition, uncertainty and change. Unquestionably a very wide range of ideas, aspirations and political intercourse was on the agenda. Such a social, political and economic context is presented in this work as the backcloth to the tessellation of constituent parts that comprise British feminism. This book suggests that ‘race’ was central to that tapestry. 2 Politics of Population: Empire, Slavery and Race Late eighteenth-century British women writers lived and wrote in a context.
Austen’s horizon was not as restricted as typically it is thought to have been. Edward Said places Austen in a social matrix of geography and location, in which space is brought to the fore, rather than temporality, a more delimiting factor. Let us consider what this might involve. 41 Austen took her readership from home to horizon with consummate ease. 42 In the last analysis, empire, a mix of commercial and national interests, was not so far away. Austen brought it home. While we may readily admit that trade per se is not commensurate with the processes of industrialization, in the light of Eric Williams’ thesis on capitalism and slavery, it must nevertheless also be acknowledged that global trading, an endemic feature of British capitalism, facilitated that process.