“Imperialists in Broken Boots”

Poor Whites and Philanthropy in Southern African Writing

Julie Cairnie



This book examines writing which is concerned with the period of the ‘poor white problem’ and the ‘poor white solution’ (1870s–1940s) in Southern Africa. It argues that ‘poor white’ is not a narrow economic category, but describes those who threaten to collapse boundaries—racial, sexual, and class boundaries. It studies four writers who migrate between Britain and Southern Africa, who engage with the ‘problem’ and the ‘solution,’ and who foreground ambiguity in their ambiguously genred texts.


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Julie Cairnie is Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Literature at the University of Guelph in Canada. She has published and presented widely on Southern African literature.