The Jam and Matchsticks Problem: Working-Class Girlhood in Late Nineteenth-Century Cape Town

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


S. E. Duff


Colonial Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, p.124-140 (2014)





Colonial Girlhood in Literature, Culture and History, 1840-1950 explores a range of real and fictional colonial girlhood experiences from Jamaica, Mauritius, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, and Canada to reflect on the transitional state of girlhood between childhood and adulthood. The interconnected themes of colonialism, empire, gender, race, and class show how colonial girls occupy ambivalent positions in British and settler societies between 1840 and 1950. Although girlhood is often linked to freedom, independence, novelty, and modernity, it may also represent an idea that needs to be contained and controlled to serve the needs of the nation. Across national boundaries, the malleability of colonial girlhoods is evident. Drawing on a range of approaches including history, anthropology, and literary and cultural studies, this book reflects on the complexities of girlhood during the colonial era.

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