Climate and Race in the Age of Empire
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This chapter outlines the ways in which historical traditions of climatic medicine influenced nineteenth- and early twentieth-century colonial discourses. It further examines three authors’ engagements with and reaction to these discourses, in both fictional and non-fictional literatures of empire. Rather than simply recapitulating pro-imperial uses of climate science, works by Richard Burton, Joseph Conrad, and Rudyard Kipling all ‘map’ race and climate in a way that reflects the ambivalences and contradictions at the heart of colonial discourse. Further, this chapter analyses the imaginative potential provided by the structures of fiction for authors like Conrad and Kipling to grapple with concepts of chronic disease, bodily transformation, adaptation, and degeneration in Africa and India.
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