Gendering the Settler State

White Women, Race, Liberalism and Empire in Rhodesia, 1950-198

Kate Law



White women cut an ambivalent figure in the transnational history of the British Empire. They tend to be remembered as malicious harridans personifying the worst excesses of colonialism, as vacuous fusspots, whose lives were punctuated by a series of frivolous pastimes, or as casualties of patriarchy, constrained by male actions and gendered ideologies. Focusing on post-war colonial Rhodesia, Gendering the Settler State provides a fine-grained analysis of the role(s) of white women in the colonial enterprise, arguing that they held ambiguous and inconsistent views on a variety of issues including liberalism, gender, race and colonialism.


Law takes us inside the world of white Rhodesian women, and how they navigated the complex politics of one of the oddest moments in the history of decolonisation... [this book]... offers: a new way to think through Rhodesia’s post-war history, and thus to consider how decolonisation studies might incorporate new interpretations located in the politics of race and gender... - Professor Philippa Levine


Dr. Kate Law is Senior Lecturer in Modern History in the Department of History and Politics at the University of Chichester.