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Shadowing the White Man's BurdenU.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line$
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Gretchen Murphy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795989

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795989.001.0001

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Writing Race on the World’s Stage

(p.1) Introduction
Shadowing the White Man's Burden

Gretchen Murphy

NYU Press

This introductory chapter briefly explores the ways in which Americans re-examined racial conflicts in light of a newly perceived global mission of overseas commercial, military, and cultural expansion at the turn of the twentieth century. It examines cultural debates surrounding the relationship between whiteness and empire, highlighting the literary responses of four multiethnic U.S. writers: Frank R. Steward, Pauline Hopkins, Winnifred Eaton, and Ranald MacDonald. These writers used literary forms to complicate the popular association of whiteness with national mission or global progress. In their writings, nonwhite soldiers, scientists, explorers, and diplomats travel abroad, altering the racial scripts of empire by revealing the U.S. national mission for global power and leadership to be, instead of white, potentially multiracial. And yet they also detach race from empire by challenging whiteness itself as a social, scientific, and legal category—a strategy referred to as “shadowing the white man's burden.”

Keywords:   Americans, global mission, cultural expansion, twentieth century, whiteness, empire, global power, white man's burden

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