Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire

By Nadine Attewell

© 2014

In 1932, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World, his famous novel about a future in which humans are produced to spec in laboratories. Around the same time, Australian legislators announced an ambitious experiment to “breed the colour” out of Australia by procuring white husbands for women of white and indigenous descent. In this study, Nadine Attewell reflects on an assumption central to these and other policy initiatives and cultural texts from twentieth-century Britain, Australia, and New Zealand: that the fortunes of the nation depend on controlling the reproductive choices of citizen-subjects.

Better Britons charts an innovative approach to the politics of reproduction by reading an array of works and discourses – from canonical modernist novels and speculative fictions to government memoranda and public debates – that reflect on the significance of reproductive behaviours for civic, national, and racial identities. Bringing insights from feminist and queer theory into dialogue with work in indigenous studies, Attewell sheds new light on changing conceptions of British and settler identity during the era of decolonization.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Illustrations: 3
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP003652

  • PUBLISHED JAN 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

    ISBN 9781442647022
  • PUBLISHED FEB 2014

    From: $53.25

    Regular Price: $71.00

Quick Overview

Better Britons charts an innovative approach to the politics of reproduction by reading an array of works and discourses that reflect on the significance of reproductive behaviours for civic, national, and racial identities.

Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire

By Nadine Attewell

© 2014

In 1932, Aldous Huxley published Brave New World, his famous novel about a future in which humans are produced to spec in laboratories. Around the same time, Australian legislators announced an ambitious experiment to “breed the colour” out of Australia by procuring white husbands for women of white and indigenous descent. In this study, Nadine Attewell reflects on an assumption central to these and other policy initiatives and cultural texts from twentieth-century Britain, Australia, and New Zealand: that the fortunes of the nation depend on controlling the reproductive choices of citizen-subjects.

Better Britons charts an innovative approach to the politics of reproduction by reading an array of works and discourses – from canonical modernist novels and speculative fictions to government memoranda and public debates – that reflect on the significance of reproductive behaviours for civic, national, and racial identities. Bringing insights from feminist and queer theory into dialogue with work in indigenous studies, Attewell sheds new light on changing conceptions of British and settler identity during the era of decolonization.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Illustrations: 3
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    Better Britons is an original and challenging study of reproductive policies in early twentieth-century settler-invader contexts. It offers sophisticated and provocative analyses of the connections between these policies as they were used to bolster tentative national identities in the closing era of the British empire. It makes an important and original contribution to postcolonial studies.”


    Cynthia Sugars, Department of English, University of Ottawa

    “Nadine Attewell’s book is a rich and complex examination of the relationship between reproduction and national identity that encompasses modernist fiction, science fiction, and archival material on indigenous people in New Zealand and Australia. Its weaving together of these genres shows the continuities between legal, cultural, and literary texts.”


    Radhika Mohanram, Professor of English and Critical and Cultural Theory, University of Cardiff

    ‘Attewell’s focus on specific moments of reproductive crisis across diverse geographies and genres allows her to illuminate the centrality of reproductive projects… Better Britons makes a welcome and valuable contribution to the field of empire studies.’


    Eddy Kent
    English Studies in Canada vol 41:04:2015

    ‘Attewell offers an enlightening and meticulous interpretation of twentieth century British and post imperial literatures.’


    Matthew Levay
    Year’s Work in English Studies vol 95:01:2016
  • Author Information

    Nadine Attewell is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.
  • Table of contents

    List of Illustrations

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction

    Part One: Beginnings

    1. An Island Solution: Utopian Forms and the Routing of National Identity
    2. Whiteness for Beginners: An Australian Experiment

    Part Two: Endings

    1. “I kept on dreaming about the sea”: Foreclosure and the Aborting Woman
    2. Apprehending Loss: Maternity at the Margins
    3. Shrunk in the (White)wash: Britain at World’s End

    Envoi

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

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