James Stansfeld & the debates about the repeal of the contagious diseases acts in Britain and British India 1860s-1890s

Ramsey, Christine July (2014) James Stansfeld & the debates about the repeal of the contagious diseases acts in Britain and British India 1860s-1890s. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the life of James Stansfeld, (1820-1898), and in particular his contribution to the political reform of the Contagious Diseases Acts (CDAs) in England and in India. Stansfeld was a Liberal MP from a Unitarian (non-conformist) background who represented his native borough of Halifax during the Gladstone era. From the early 1870s onwards, eschewing high cabinet office, Stansfeld was a major force in the Commons parliamentary debates about the CDAs and their Indian equivalent. His political strategies included the building up and sustaining of popular support for repeal whilst simultaneously supporting repeal in the political arena. The thesis maps Stansfeld’s complex and radical arguments about women’s rights, particularly those of prostitutes, and his advocacy of, and practical support for, repeal of the CDAs both in England and India. It presents new archival research on Stansfeld and other materials relating to the Contagious Diseases Acts and their rescindment. The archival materials are read alongside nineteenth-century published sources including memoirs, political writings and newspaper articles, and analysed in dialogue with scholarship on nineteenth-century sexual debates in England and India. By focusing on James Stansfeld’s advocacy of the repeal effort in England, and his role in the subsequent shift of the debate to British India, then, the thesis adds new research on the complex issues at stake in debates about the repeal of the CDAs and Indian CDAs, and it considers what these debates tell us about the role of female sexuality in nineteenth-century political debates in England and the Indian empire.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Arts > English & Humanities
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2014 09:17
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2015 14:30
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/61

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