Burden or Benefit?

Burden or Benefit?

Imperial Benevolence and Its Legacies
Helen Gilbert and Chris Tiffin
Distribution: World
Publication date: 03/12/2008
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21960-2
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In the name of benevolence, philanthropy, and humanitarian aid, individuals, groups, and nations have sought to assist others and to redress forms of suffering and deprivation. Yet the inherent imbalances of power between the giver and the recipient of this benevolence have called into question the motives and rationale for such assistance. This volume examines the evolution of the ideas and practices of benevolence, chiefly in the context of British imperialism, from the late 18th century to the present. The authors consider more than a dozen examples of practical and theoretical benevolence from the anti-slavery movement of the late 18th century to such modern activities as refugee asylum in Europe, opposition to female genital mutilation in Africa, fundraising for charities, and restoring the wetlands in southern, post-Saddam Iraq.

Author Bio

Helen Gilbert is Professor of Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is author of Sightlines: Race, Gender, and Nation in Contemporary Australian Theatre and Post-Colonial Drama: Theory, Practice, Politics.

Chris Tiffin teaches in the School of English, Media Studies, and Art History at the University of Queensland and is editor of De-Scribing Empire, South Pacific Images, and South Pacific Stories.


“A strong volume. . . . The book is accessible and will meet the needs of faculty who teach on empire, colonialism, philanthropy, charity, and related subjects.”
 — Steven Heydemann, Georgetown University

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: What's Wrong with Benevolence?, Chris Tiffin and Helen Gilbert
2. A Short History of Benevolence, Patrick Brantlinger
I. Colonial Burdens?
3. Thomas Fowell Buxton and the Networks of British Humanitarianism, Alan Lester
4. Settler Colonialism, Utility, Romance: E. G. Wakefield's Letter from Sydney, Lisa O'Connell
5. Benevolence, Slavery, and the Periodicals, Chris Tiffin
6. "This Nineteenth Century of Progress and Humanity": The Life and Times of Frederick Weld, Leigh Dale
7. Women, Philanthropy and Imperialism in Nineteenth-century Britain, Sarah Richardson
8. Blixen's Africa: Wonderland of the Self, Kirsten Holst Petersen
II. Contemporary Benefits?
9. From Benevolence to Partnership: The Persistence of Colonial Legacies in Aotearoa-New Zealand, Chris Prentice
10. Refusing Benevolence: Gandhi, Nehru, and the Ethics of Postcolonial Relations, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
11. Rescuing African Women and Girls: Benevolence and the Civilizing Mission in Anti-FGM Discourse, Wairimu Njambi
12. Benevolence and Humiliation: Thinking Migrants, Integration, and Security in Europe, Prem Kumar Rajaram
13. Hearts, Minds, and Wetlands: Stakeholders and Ecosystem Restoration from Florida's Everglades to the Mesopotamian Marshlands, William E. O'Brien
Notes on Contributors