Gender, colonialism, and the colonial gaze

Kalpana Ram

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary/reference bookpeer-review


The ‘colonial gaze’ is a term that has come to refer to a structure of representation which figures as a mode of intervention in itself, as well as providing the pretext for a variety of other forms of practical intervention. The gaze directed at gender relations and the status of women has been central in sustaining the existential distance between colonial states and the societies it sought to dominate. This entry explores different forms in which this distance has been produced and maintained - such as the scientific classificatory scrutiny of a racialized biology and sexuality; male literary modernism that seeks oriental and primitive vitality in the bodies of black women; emancipatory discourses seeking to free and empower women from their own men without considering the contribution of class or colonial relations. These modalities are distinguished by different kinds of moods and emotions, as are anti-colonial moves to reclaim agency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe international encyclopedia of anthropology
EditorsHilary Callan
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781118924396
ISBN (Print)9780470657225
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • women
  • colonialism
  • representation
  • agency
  • feminism(s)
  • gender
  • gender and culture
  • Michel Foucault
  • missionaries
  • objectification
  • orientalism
  • postcolonialism
  • racism

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