‘The Absolute Distress of Females’: Irish Abduction and the British Newspapers, 1800 to 1850

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Lindsey, Kiera
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2014
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Between 1800 and 1850 the British newspapers published over 1,000 newspaper articles concerned with Irish abduction, offering a stark contrast to the little attention devoted to English cases during the same period. This article examines representations of Irish abduction in the British press and considers how this form of sexual spectacle contributed to British perceptions of Ireland during this period. Analysis of a number of particularly heinous abduction cases from the early nineteenth century demonstrates how images of vulnerable and often violated women encouraged unfavourable contrasts between Irish and British masculinity in ways that served to heighten anxieties about the nature of civilisation in Ireland. In so doing, this newspaper coverage of Irish abduction helped to assuage concerns about ‘the Irish question’ and, this article argues, to justify the coercive nature of Britain's imperial presence there.

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The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
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42
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4
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History of empires, imperialism and colonialism
British history
Australian history
Gender history
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Lindsey, K, ‘The Absolute Distress of Females’: Irish Abduction and the British Newspapers, 1800 to 1850, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2014, 42 (4), pp. 625-644
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