Child, nation, race and empire

Child rescue discourse, England, Canada and Australia, 1850-1915

By Margot Hillel and Shurlee Swain

Child, nation, race and empire

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7894-1
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: July 2010
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, Humanities / Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, HISTORY / Social History, Colonialism & imperialism, European history, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History, Modern History
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


Child, nation, race and empire is an innovative, inter-disciplinary, cross cultural study that contributes to understandings of both contemporary child welfare practices and the complex dynamics of empire.

It analyses the construction and transmission of nineteenth-century British child rescue ideology. Locating the origins of contemporary practice in the publications of the prominent English Child rescuers, Dr Barnardo, Thomas Bowman Stephenson, Benjamin Waugh, Edward de Montjoie Rudolf and their colonial disciples and literature written for children, it shows how the vulnerable body of the child at risk came to be reconstituted as central to the survival of nation, race and empire.

Yet, as the shocking testimony before the many official enquiries into the past treatment of children in out-of-home 'care' held in Britain, Ireland, Australia and Canada make clear, there was no guarantee that the rescued child would be protected from further harm.


List of figures
List of abbreviations
1. The child as citizen
2. The gospel of child rescue
3. The body of the child
4. The body of the nation
5. The salvation of the race
6. The salvation of the empire
7. A new orthodoxy in child protection practice
8. Lost, stolen or forgotten: the legacy of the survivors


Margot Hillel is a Professor and Head of School at Australian Catholic University. Shurlee Swain is a Professor at Australian Catholic University and a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne

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