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Vicky Morrisroe: Article Published in Modern Intellectual History


MIHI have just published an article in the journal Modern Intellectual History, entitled “Sanguinary Amusement”: E.A. Freeman, the Comparative Method and Victorian Theories of Race. This article seeks to revise the conventional portrait of the historian E. A. Freeman (1823–92) as an arch-racist and confident proponent of Aryan superiority. Focusing on the relatively obscure Comparative Politics (1873), it is argued that, while attitudes towards race were hardening in the later nineteenth century, Freeman combined the insights of the practitioners of the Comparative Method and the Liberal Anglican philosophy of Thomas Arnold to define the Aryan race as a community of culture rather than of blood. Explicitly rejecting biological interpretations of race, Freeman and the practitioners of the Comparative Method used the Aryan concept to denote a community of languages, myths, laws and political institutions and, in recognizing the instability of culture, articulated an account of progress that was cyclical rather than unilinear. It demonstrated that Freeman’s Aryan universalism issued in anxieties concerning the future stability of the West and a fear that recapitulation might be engendered by contemporary political expansionism and contact with the rival civilization of the despotic East.

You can find the article here.

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