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Forgotten Geographies: Historical Geographies of Black Women in Victorian and Edwardian London

Bressey, Tanya Caroline Anne; (2003) Forgotten Geographies: Historical Geographies of Black Women in Victorian and Edwardian London. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis addresses some of the current gaps in our knowledge and understanding of black women in British historical geography, with an empirical focus on women who lived in or passed through Victorian London. Its aim is to tell the stories of a range of women who lived in this period, and present their biographies in the context of debates on race, identity and spaces of modernity. Historical research of 19th century visual and written archives supports the central chapters of the thesis, which are concerned with the experiences of individual black women in three arenas of Victorian life: institutions (Barnardo's and the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum), imperial elite society (Sarah Forbes Bonetta and her daughter Victoria Davies, both of whom were goddaughters of Queen Victoria), and anti-racist politics (focusing on Ida B Wells' anti-lynching campaign). By combining theories of the 'black Atlantic', localised historical geographies, and a sense of inclusive history, the thesis presents a structure that can connect these diverse women. This is coupled with a consideration of how class and social culture may have affected the extent to which these women experienced such a sense of collective identity themselves. The women are also discussed in the context of a broader Victorian public. The thesis considers how the Victorian press represented them, and how these representations reflect discussions of race, class and gender in Victorian society. The thesis concludes by weaving these debates into a discussion of the complex methodological considerations that are being exposed by the development of black history, particularly the use of photography as a primary tool. These questions are ones that impact not only on the study of the history of the black community in London, but also on British history as a whole.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Forgotten Geographies: Historical Geographies of Black Women in Victorian and Edwardian London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Black women; London
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10100431
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