Rule of Sympathy: Sentiment, Race, and Power, 1750-1850

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9780312293932: Rule of Sympathy: Sentiment, Race, and Power, 1750-1850

Rule of Sympathy is a social and historical critique of sympathy in British discourse in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Although initially associated with feminized or effeminate forms of sentimental discourse (the romance, the novel, the gothic), sympathy came to function as a key technology of gender and race in new evangelical social movements, such as abolitionism and missionization. Amit Rai argues that sympathy was a paradoxical mode of power. The differences of racial, gender, and class inequalities that increasingly divided the object and agent of sympathy were precisely what must be bridged through identification. Yet without such differences, which were differences of power, sympathy itself would be impossible. This paradoxical mode of power transformed the ways in which people came to think of how best to manage, order, and govern individuals and populations in the late eighteenth century.

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About the Author:

Amit S. Rai is a full-time faculty member at the New School. He has written extensively on postcolonial cultural studies, film, race theory, diasporic identity, and the Internet.

Review:

"Rule of Sympathy brings into focus issues that have occupied the margins of colonial studies for years." -- Ann Laura Stoler, University of Michigan

"Subtle, wide-ranging, and magisterial, Rule of Sympathy is a rich and provocative contribution." -- Don Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz

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