Kipling's famine-romance: masculinity, gender and colonial biopolitics in “William the Conqueror”

Tickell, Alex (2009). Kipling's famine-romance: masculinity, gender and colonial biopolitics in “William the Conqueror”. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 45(3) pp. 251–263.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17449850903064674

Abstract

This essay concentrates on one of Kipling’s short-stories, ‘William the Conqueror’, first published in an American women’s magazine, and speculates on how a female audience might have caused Kipling to modify his (conventional) depiction of Anglo-Indian gender-relations. Drawing on Giorgio Agamben’s work and reviewing the history of colonial famine-relief, I suggest that the formal conjunction of the romance genre with the unusual setting of a famine-relief camp is the key to Kipling’s ‘gender-transactions’ in this story, and can be read as an indicator of the ‘biopolitical’ logic of the camp as a space of sovereign exception.

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