Please respond to both of the following two (2) questions (minimum 250 words)
1) Farish Noor compares historical records that might appear contradictory: some boastfully acknowledge colonial violence, while others hide it. According to Farish Noor, why did the authors of these texts boast of, or hide, colonial violence?
2) Mann mentions that a "domestic racism" and an "international racism" are connected (p.468). What does this mean? How did this connection influence suffragists' views of imperialism? Be sure to include views from at least two of Mann's three camps.
, Vol. 78, No. 4, November 2008, 461– 489 © 2008 Alpha Kappa Delta DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.2008.00257.x
Blackwell Publishing IncMalden, USASOINSociological Inquiry0038-02451475-682X©2008 Alpha Kappa DeltaXXXOriginal ArticlesFEMINISM AND IMPERIALISM, 1890–1920SUSAN A. MANN
Feminism and Imperialism, 1890–1920: Our Anti-Imperialist Sisters—Missing in Action from
American Feminist Sociology*
Susan A. Mann,
University of New Orleans
This article retrieves part of our historical past to address two omissions in American feminist sociology on the subject of global imperialism. The first section addresses the inadequate attention feminist sociologists have paid to how major leaders of the women’s movement responded to U.S. overseas expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It documents how these early feminists had both progressive and reactionary responses to the anti-imperialist struggles of their era. Particular emphasis is given to how issues of race, class, and gender were interwoven in their discourses on imperialism.
The second section focuses on how the writings of the most famous woman theorist and critic of imperialism during this era—Rosa Luxemburg—are virtually ignored in U.S. portrayals of feminist sociology and women founders of sociology. To address this omission, Luxemburg’s theory of imperialism is examined, as well as how it has influenced contemporary global feminist works. A critical analysis of these Luxemburg- inspired works considers their implications for understanding global imperialism today. In this way, the past is used to clarify the present.
Beginning in the 1960s, reclaiming our historical past has been a major activity and accomplishment of the feminist movement in the United States. This excavation of earlier feminist writings and activism not only served to legitimize feminism as a serious and ongoing political struggle, but it also unearthed the subjugated knowledges of those whose theory and practice had been buried, silenced, or deemed less credible by more androcentric historical narratives. To the credit of those who have reclaimed our past, great efforts have been made to discover the diverse standpoints, visions, and voices of our feminist predecessors. By doing so, we have learned much about the relationship between women’s oppression and other systemic forms of oppression that affected U.S. women, such as racism, classism, and heterosexism (Cott 1987; Giddings 1984; Lerner 1993; Rossi 1974).
However, even with this greater emphasis on diversity, our gaze has been too inward and United States-centered. This myopic, nation-centered gaze has
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deflected attention from the international issues that confronted feminists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when the United States emerged as a global, imperialist power. Indeed, it is rare to find references in feminist sociology to their views on imperialism despite the fact that many suffragists entered the debates about U.S. overseas expansion during this era. This omission is surprising given that so many feminists of the 1960s and 1970s who began excavating our predecessors’ history cut their political teeth during the anti- Vietnam war movement and had a profound interest in the issues of militarism and imperialism. It is even more surprising today given the heated national debates over our current military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the seismic impacts that globalization and U.S. imperialism have had on our contemporary lives. While feminist sociology has witnessed a considerable increase in global and postcolonial analyses over the last two decades, rarely have we looked back to see what we can learn from our past. Consequently, the first section of this article addresses how leaders of the U.S. women’s movement responded to global imperialism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It should be noted that these women did not use the term “feminist” in this era,
but referred to themselves as suffragists or women’s righters. However, I will interweave the more manageable term “feminist” with suffragist throughout.
The second section discusses how U.S. portrayals of both feminist theory and women founders of sociological theory have ignored the contributions of the major woman theorist and critic of imperialism during this era—the European feminist, Rosa Luxemburg. While Luxemburg’s work is better known in the subfield of social change and development, it is rarely found in any feminist discussions of the women founders of sociology even though other European women with far less theoretical acumen are mentioned, such as Harriet Martineau whose major claim to sociological fame was translating Auguste Comte’s work (Finlay 2007; Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley 1998; Ritzer 2007).
In turn, on examining the indexes of 20 feminist theory textbooks and anthologies used in the United States today, I found only brief mention of Luxemburg’s work (Caulfield 1984; Landry and MacLean 1993). In short, like those U.S. suffragists who took an anti-imperialist stance, Luxemburg is virtually missing in action (MIA) from U.S. feminist sociology. To address this omission, I discuss how Luxemburg’s work on imperialism was not only influential during her era but also continues to influence global feminist writings today.
This study specifically focuses on the period from 1890 to 1920. Hence, it does not address the earlier U.S. imperialist and settler colonialist ventures entailed in the annexation of Mexican lands or the appropriation of the lands of Native Americans. However, this period witnessed some important changes both within the U.S. women’s movement and in the responses of U.S. citizens to a new form of U.S. imperialism—global imperialism. At the beginning of the
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1890s the two major suffrage organizations in the United States combined to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in an effort to provide a more powerful, united front to win suffrage for American women. This decade also witnessed the rise of U.S. overseas expansion and the formation of the American Anti-Imperialist League. This organization was established specifically to oppose the U.S. annexation of the Philippines, but more generally opposed U.S. imperialism on economic, legal, and moral grounds. The ending date of 1920 witnessed the demise of the Anti-Imperialist League which formally disbanded in 1921, as well as the victory of women’s suffrage through the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Over these same three decades, Rosa Luxemburg wrote her major works on imperialism. I begin by grounding this study in the social and historical context of the era.
The Rise of U.S. Global Imperialism
The Spanish-American War is generally considered to be the watershed in American history that marked the translation of the United States’ growing industrial might into military and political power on a global scale. From the last decade of the nineteenth century to the First World War, the United States took possession of Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Samoa. It also established protectorates over Cuba, Panama, and the Dominican Republic and mounted armed interventions in China, Haiti, and Nicaragua (Fain 2003).
The emergence of the United States as a global imperial power in the Far East and Latin America was closely related to the spectacular growth of both the American economy and the federal government in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. These changes not only ushered in a modern, industrial economy but also a centralized nation state. Between Reconstruction and World War I, the American economy was transformed from one based largely on family- owned and operated businesses and farms to one dominated by large-scale, capitalist enterprises.
In key respects, American overseas expansion was rooted in periodic crises of overproduction generated by the booms and busts in the economic cycles of its highly volatile economy. Industrial leaders such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, as well as many farmers and politicians, argued that the health of American industry depended on expansion. They claimed that the failure to establish new foreign markets for the swelling output of U.S. goods would result in industrial slowdowns and economic stagnation at home (Fain 2003). They feared that unemployment resulting from such stagnation would only increase already growing working-class radicalism and militancy. Moreover, overseas expansion was the logical sequel to the closing of the frontier and the
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victory of U.S. settler colonialism over its own indigenous population. Indeed, the United States had already succeeded in developing its own internal, transcontinental empire before it expanded abroad to include intercontinental conquests.
Political and ideological factors also played key roles in U.S. expansionism. Maintaining hemispheric security by keeping European powers out of the Caribbean and Latin America was a prominent aim of the increasing enforcements and extensions of the Monroe Doctrine during this era. The goal of spreading the values of American Progressivism abroad, as well as the missionary zeal of extending American Protestantism overseas, fostered ideologues from across the political spectrum to join the pro-imperialist chorus. Even gender ideologies reflecting concerns about the robust nature of American manhood chimed in during this particular era of U.S. history (Hoganson 1998). Hence, a wide range of economic, political, and ideological ambitions came together to fuel the imperialist impulse. Our first question is: “What role did American feminists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries play in fostering or resisting this expansionist thrust?”
U.S. Feminism and Anti-Imperialist Struggles, 1890–1920
While it is tempting to use the term “first wave” as shorthand for describing the feminists I am studying, there are numerous problems associated with “wave approaches” to examining the U.S. women’s movement (Ruth 1998). The problem most salient to this study is that wave approaches too often focus on the hegemonic feminist organizations during each wave that were led by white, middle-class women. Hence, they obscure the diversity of competing feminisms within each wave, as well as the diversity of the women who were involved. This latter tendency is particularly likely to obscure the contributions of more radical feminisms and those feminists who were marginalized by race, ethnicity, and social class.
To avoid this problem, I divided the so-called “first wave” into three camps and selected famous leaders of these camps to reflect the diverse standpoints and political perspectives of the U.S. women’s movement during this era. To represent the white, middle-class, liberal camp, I examine the responses to imperialism by the first three Presidents of the NAWSA: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1890–1892), Susan B. Anthony (1892–1900), and Carrie Chapman Catt (1900– 1904). Two major black feminist leaders whose works I examine are Anna Julia Cooper and Ida B. Wells-Barnett. My exemplars of the more radical, left-wing camp of the women’s movement include Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jane Addams, Emma Goldman, and Jeanette Rankin, all of whom represent a range of positions that were inspired by socialism, anarchism, and pacifism. Major leaders of these camps were chosen because most of their original writings are published and
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this was a prerequisite to discerning their views on imperialism. Hence, their published works set the boundaries and the limitations of this study.
While feminist sociologists have ignored the responses of suffragists to U.S. overseas imperialism, feminist historians have been more attentive to this issue. Particularly useful to this study are the works of Allison Sneider (1994, 2008) and Kristin Hoganson (1998, 2001).
Sneider documents how U.S. expansion enabled feminists to keep the suffrage issue on the national political agenda. She discusses how in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the federal government maintained control over citizenship, while state governments controlled voting rights. Most suffragists wanted these two issues united so that as “citizens” they could automatically vote. As new lands were annexed to the United States, legal and constitutional issues were reopened to deal with citizenship and suffrage in these new territories and colonies. Hoganson’s works excel in showing the role conceptions of manhood played in U.S. imperialist ventures (Hoganson 1998) and in highlighting how class, race, and gender were imbricated in suffragists’ responses to U.S. overseas expansion (Hoganson 2001). Together Hoganson and Sneider provide some of the most important contributions to date for understanding the relationship between U.S. imperialism and “the Woman Question” as it was known in that era. However, their works tend to focus on suffragists in the more hegemonic liberal feminist organizations of the U.S. women’s movement and to ignore the role of more radical feminists during that era. Consequently, it is the intent of this study to include these more radical feminist perspectives.
To feminists today, it might seem obvious that women’s suffrage and struggles against colonialism and imperialism rested on the common principle of self-government. However, the NAWSA did not side with anti-imperialists in this heyday of America’s surge to acquire territories in the Far East and Latin America. Rather, suffragists in the NAWSA split over this issue. My immediate thought was that these suffragists did not want to ally with a small group of radical, anti-imperialists and thereby endanger their chance to obtain the vote. But in fact, the opposite was true. The major organization that protested U.S. imperial policies—the Anti-Imperialist League—was a much larger organization than the NAWSA. Founded in 1898, the League had more than 100 affiliated organizations, approximately 30,000 members and over 500,000 contributors by the turn of the twentieth century. In contrast, the NAWSA had less than 9000 members at this time (Beisner 1968; Hoganson 2001).
Hoganson raises the interesting question of why, given how the suffrage movement at this time was chronically short of cash, faced stiff opposition in Congress, and elicited outright hostility from much of the general public, did so few suffragists see the advantage of building a coalition with anti-imperialists to broaden their base of support, much as they had done when they allied with
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Abolitionists in the pre-Civil War era? She provides a number of reasons why suffragists split on this issue, but race- and class-based notions of citizenship were among the most important factors (Hoganson 2001).
Because the late nineteenth century witnessed the concentration and centralization of economic wealth alongside shrinking political rights for minorities and the poor, classes and races were becoming increasingly polarized. After Reconstruction, black men were being disenfranchised in the South, while poll taxes and literacy tests marginalized white working-class and poor men as well. As Hoganson (2001:21) writes: “Many white, middle-class suffragists approved of this state of affairs, hoping they could parlay their positions of social privilege into voting rights within a political system that favored whiteness, wealth and education over manhood.”
These suffragists used the same argument against victims of U.S. imperialism that they had used against black males during the heated debates over the 15th Amendment—namely, that illiterate people were incapable of self-government (Giddings 1984; Terborg-Penn 1998). They also did not hesitate to reveal their fears of people of color as violent and savage. For example, Elizabeth Cady Stanton writes: “The great public topic just now is ‘expansion,’ of which I am in favor . . . I am strongly in favor of this new departure in American foreign policy. What would this continent have been if we had left it to the Indians?” (Stanton quoted in Sneider 2008:102). Indeed, Stanton held paternalistic views of many people, including blacks, immigrants, workers, and Cubans (Griffith 1984). In a similarly racist and elitist way, Susan B. Anthony states: “It is nonsense to talk about giving those guerrillas in the Philippines their liberty for that’s all they are that are waging this war. If we did, the first thing they would do would be to murder and pillage every white person on the island . . .” (Anthony quoted in Hoganson 2001:13–14). Even in later years when these feminists argued for women’s suffrage in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, they made quite clear that they supported suffrage with limits, such as educational and property qualifications to vote (Sneider 2008). Such limits meant, for example, that of the 110,000 inhabitants of Hawaii in 1893, the number of eligible voters would have been around 2,700 (Sneider 2008).
These two early Presidents of the NAWSA had strategic reasons for supporting imperialism (Hoganson 2001). Support for empire provided a good opportunity for suffragists to demonstrate their own political worthiness as citizens through their loyalty and allegiance to their government, much as many pro-imperialist British feminists had done earlier (Burton 1994). Moreover, the Republican Party was more pro-imperialist than Democrats in this era and NAWSA members believed that continued support for the Republicans would more likely lead to women’s suffrage. However, fearing that Filipino men might get the vote before they did under American imperial rule, the NAWSA passed
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a resolution that Congress should grant Filipinas whatever rights it conferred on Filipino men (Hoganson 2001).
By contrast, an issue that generated anti-imperialist sentiment among some white, middle-class liberal suffragists during the Spanish-American War was the revival of assertions that women should not vote because they did not render military service. As Hoganson (1998) points out, gender divisions were heightened by pro-imperialists’ claims that military service and war fostered a more robust manhood. Anxieties about manhood in this era can be traced to urbanization, industrialization, and corporate consolidation in the late nineteenth century. Middle- and upper-class men who held “soft white-collar jobs” and who enjoyed the comforts of modern life were anxious about becoming “overcivilized.” As Hoganson (1998:200 –201) writes: “They feared that a decline in manly character would impair their abilities to maintain not only their class, racial, and national privileges, but also their status relative to women, especially when assertive New Women scoffed at submissive ideas of womanhood.” The aging of the Civil War generation and the end of the Indian Wars also focused attention on the decline of manhood—especially for young men who lacked such “epic challenges” (Hoganson 1998:201).
The use of the gendered nature of military service to negate women’s suffrage was condemned in Carrie Chapman Catt’s address as President of the NAWSA in 1901. Here Catt argued that “militarism is the oldest and has been the most unyielding enemy of woman” (quoted in Hoganson 1998:195).
As claims of male privilege based on military service grew in strength, Catt recanted her earlier jingoism
and formally endorsed Philippine independence while visiting Manila for a suffrage meeting of Filipina and U.S. activists (Hoganson 2001). Notably, Catt maintained her opposition to militarism and joined with more left-wing feminists in 1915 to form the first women’s peace organization—the Women’s Peace Party.
Throughout this era, white, middle-class suffragists were divided over the issue of imperialist wars. There were those, like Susan B. Anthony, whose Quaker background fostered her pacificism and whose experiences during the Civil War made her recognize how wars distracted attention from the suffrage movement (Sneider 2008). Other suffragists embraced the prevailing notion in that era that women were more “peace-loving” than men. These suffragists used women’s ostensible “tenderness” and “higher morality” to argue for women’s right to suffrage (Sneider 2008:92). There also were suffragists, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who thought it was a big mistake to argue for suffrage on any ground other than social justice and seized every opportunity to speak in favor of war to undermine this essentialized view of women (Griffith 1984; Sneider 2008). As Stanton wrote in a letter to her son, “I am sick of all this sentimental nonsense about ‘our boys in blue’ and ‘wringing mother’s hearts’ ” (Stanton quoted in Sneider 2008:92).
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Another issue that attracted suffragists to the pro-imperialist cause was the so-called “civilizing mission” of imperialist ventures. For example, suffragists in organizations such as the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and the American Woman’s Foreign Mission Movement were sent abroad to spread American values and culture (Tyrell 1991). These women were incensed to learn of the U.S. Army’s regulation of prostitution in the Philippines as means of reducing venereal diseases among soldiers.
The NAWSA joined with the WCTU in condemning the military inspections of Filipina prostitutes and tried to use this “element of savagery in Army circles” as another reason to give Filipina women the vote (Sneider 2008:123). Although such “vice” on the part of the U.S. soldiers undermined claims of U.S. imperialism’s “civilizing” mission abroad, these suffragists were not critiquing imperialism, they simply wanted a “more chaste imperialism” (Hoganson 2001:17).
African Americans also were enticed by the pro-imperialist ideologies of fostering a more “robust manhood” and of “civilizing” foreign lands. Because of their particular concern for their ancestral homeland of Africa, many African Americans (including suffragists) were drawn to the missionary ideology of imperialism (Jacobs 1981). Yet, even in Africa, these female missionaries faced sexism from their male counterparts and racism from both white missionaries and imperial officials (Jacobs 1995). The Spanish-American war offered the opportunity for black males as soldiers to “claim U.S. masculinity for themselves” (Sneider 2008:93 – 4). Many volunteered for the army even though the sight of black men in uniform provoked violent responses from some white racists.
As the ties between domestic and international racism grew more apparent, they became a major theme used by black feminists who condemned U.S. expansionism during this era. Anna Julia Cooper ( 1998) used this theme to criticize U.S. expansion in the West and the injustices perpetrated on American Indians in
A Voice from the South
The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class—it is the cause of human kind. . . . Why should woman become plantiff in a suit versus the Indian or the Negro or any other race or class who have been crushed under the iron heel of Anglo-Saxon power and selfishness. (Cooper  1998 quoted in Lemert and Bhan 1998:106, 108)
Cooper ( 1998) also criticized global imperialism in her doctoral dissertation, where she analyzed how colonial conflict was the result of internal race and class differences that were aggravated and exacerbated by white colonizers pursuing their own advantage. She concluded that the overall fate of the colonies was not due to their “backwardness,” but to the ways colonizing powers exerted their influence and appropriated natural and human resources (Lemert and Bhan 1998:268–9). While some scholars have likened her analysis to Neo-Marxist
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Dependency and World-Systems Theory (Lemert and Bhan 1998), Cooper’s attention to race, gender, class, and geographic location is more similar to contemporary U.S. Third World Feminism (Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley 1998; Sandoval 1991).
In contrast, Ida B. Wells-Barnett initially saw great opportunities for African Americans abroad and encouraged them to go to Africa to assist with its development. When the link between domestic and international racism became clearer to her, she dropped this support for black involvement in imperialist goals (Hoganson 2001). Overall, the black press and African American activists were more likely than were their white counterparts to take an anti-imperialist stance during this era (Gatewood 1975; Jacobs 1981). However, it took some time for this stance to develop. Sneider (2008) notes how the initial silence of black suffragists at the start of the Spanish-American War changed over the course of this war as they began to see more clearly the links between imperialism abroad and white racism at home.
By the end of the nineteenth century, U.S. imperialism had a significant number of opponents that crossed racial, ethnic, gender, and social class lines. While the settler colonial campaign against Native Americans and the Mexican- American War had generated only mild resistance from most American “citizens” (Foner and Winchester 1984:xix, 3), Americans from all walks of life expressed apprehension and resistance to the U.S. establishing formal political control overseas. As I noted above, the Anti-Imperialist League had garnered a huge following within the span of only a few years. The League was not, however, a cohesive group, but rather a confederation of local organizations that included extremely diverse people (Foner and Winchester 1984:xix).
The anti-imperialist motives of League members spanned the political spectrum. They included leftists, such as W. E. B. Dubois who was committed to self-government and equality domestically and abroad, as well as racists such as Varina Howell Davis (Jefferson Davis’ wife) who stated that her “most serious objection to making the Philippines American territory is because three-fourths of the population is made up of Negroes” (Davis quoted in Foner and Winchester 1984:235). The vast majority of League members, however, genuinely objected to the antidemocratic nature of U.S. imperialism and to the irony that a former colony would become a colonial master. Despite this consensus on the principle of self-government, the League never extended its political critique to cover women’s disenfranchisement. For most League members, suffrage and self- determination, whether at home or abroad, were the provinces of men.
Even in the face of this sexism, many American feminists were active in the Anti-Imperialist League and /or spoke out against U.S. imperialism. For example, Jane Addams who was active in Chicago’s Anti-Imperialist League, spoke adamantly against the brutality of the armed interventions undertaken by
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the United States. As a member of the women’s college of the Chicago School of Sociology, she was part of the “new sociology of race” that focused on the social dimensions of race as opposed to biology and addressed such matters as urbanism, immigration, and imperialism. Indeed this link between domestic racism and what they called the “racial frontier” of imperialism was a laudable feature of the Chicago School’s analysis of race. In contrast, its more conservative counterparts in the sociology of that era were committed to a biological model of racial difference that tended to racialize premodern peoples and treated them as lesser, uncivilized savages in their evolutionary views of human development (Winant 2007).
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a member of the Anti-Imperialist League although she did not write extensively on the issue of imperialism. In
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