A Few (more) notes on non-intervention: Age of consent laws and the forging of a fraternal contract on the margins of the nineteenth century British empire

Presented by Nafisa Essop Sheik

Monday, 4 November, 2019 - 15:00

Some historians of the British Empire have argued that the post-1857 Empire reflected a turn away from liberalism in favour of pre-existing sources of hegemony which were reactivated under colonialism and opposed the liberal rationalist agenda of imperialism with considerable success. This paper is one part of a project evaluating the status of liberal reform under British colonial rule in Natal, in a small outpost of the Empire only established around the middle of the nineteenth century in Southeast Africa. By examining the making of colonial laws around the Age of Consent, an empire-wide issue ostensibly about sexual reform, I argue that these laws were ultimately fabricated out of the contingencies of colonial respectability and social reproduction, and constituted a rejection of the concern with a politics of social reform espoused by colonial liberals.

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