Hegemony without dominance: racial ideology and the colonial project in British Honduras, 1847-1867

Winsor, Christopher (2023) Hegemony without dominance: racial ideology and the colonial project in British Honduras, 1847-1867. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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British Honduras’ (modern-day Belize) nineteenth-century colonial administrators operated in a state of hegemony without dominance. They lacked the resources to effectively assert their control over much of the colony, but nonetheless had to uphold the appearance of dominance. Their official, racial ideology premised the legitimacy of their rule on the supposedly innate aptitude of “Anglo-Saxons” for governance and their ability to shield their subjects from the instability of post-dissolution Central America and the Caste War of Yucatán, the latter of which drove thousands of refugees into the colony. This ideology was fundamentally high modernist, dividing the colony’s complex social milieu into legible racial groups, each with an “ideal” place in the colonial economy and a justification for their subjugation. In practice, however, residents of all backgrounds regularly behaved in ways which flew in the face of the official racial schema. They forged interethnic bonds which challenged the rigid categories envisioned by administrators and repeatedly refused to play the part of obedient subjects. The British, for their part, were typically reluctant to exercise the authority or military might they boasted about possessing. In the end, the colony’s administrators clung to this mirage of mastery even as reality proved it to be illusory.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/16072
Item ID: 16072
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 115-118)
Keywords: British Honduras, Belize, British Empire, colonialism, racial ideology, colonial project, West Indies, Caste War of Yucatan, frontier, borderland, Maya, Creole, high modernism, race
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: October 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.48336/EDC7-HS83
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Race--Belize; Belize--History--19th century; Belize--Colonial influence; Yucatán (Mexico : State)--History--Caste War, 1847-1855; West Indies--19th century

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