Five College Women's Studies Research Center

Portraits of Exile: Belonging and the British Empire

On Friday, February 3 at 1:00pm in the Music Recital Hall in the Music and Dance Building at Hampshire College, Onni Gust, Five College Women's Studies Research Associate from the University of East London will give a talk entitled “Portraits of Exile: Belonging and the British Empire in the Early Nineteenth Century.”

A letter lamenting exile. A poem desiring home. A dream of death. The remains of three lives, woven through imperial space, reveal the fragility of belonging to Britain, to Europe and to “the civilized world.”

Focusing on the idea of “exile”, this presentation explores the configuration of spatialized and racialized identities in the early nineteenth-century British empire. This was a period of immense social and political upheaval in Europe, which saw fundamental transformations in the social norms and structures of society in Britain and its Empire. Ideas of “proper” masculinity and femininity, befitting a “civilized”, British middle class, were constituted through imperialism and in relationship to interactions with colonized people. Reading the letters of Maria Graham, Catharine Mackintosh and James Mackintosh as social performances of belonging, I explore the ways in which their articulations of “exile” re-imagined the meanings of “home”. This talk is co-sponsored with Hampshire College Feminist Studies. (Onni Gust flyer)