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Borderline CitizensWomen, Gender and Political Culture in Britain, 1815-1867$
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Kathryn Gleadle

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264492

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264492.001.0001

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(p.257) Conclusions
Borderline Citizens

Kathryn Gleadle

British Academy

This book has shown how women occupied an enduring but peripheral location within the contemporary political imagination in Britain. Their status within the world of public politics remained problematic throughout this period — even in campaigns apparently deemed suitable for female activism, such as anti-slavery. Family identities, moreover, remained crucial to the positioning of women as political subjects. In the years between the ending of the war with France in 1815 and the second Reform Act in 1867, there were gathering opportunities for female political engagement. However, these shifts occurred in complex ways. although there were many ‘losses’ for women in this period — such as the ending of freewomen's rights, the decline in parochial authority, and the decreasing significance of patronage networks — we have also seen how the seeds of change emerged. Women's political subjectivity was always in the making. Yet women remained borderline citizens whose ability to imagine themselves unambiguously as forthright political actors was continually compromised by the pull of conflicting discursive currents and the instability of their ambivalent political status.

Keywords:   Britain, women, public politics, borderline citizens, slavery, family, political subjectivity, political engagement

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