In contact with their foreign surroundings, European enclaves throughout imperial Asia and Africa formed new cultural communities. Nevertheless, over time as Cooper and Stoler (1997) have argued, such colonial communities became subject to the same bourgeois project as experienced in the metropolitan centres to which they remained connected. If, in terms of that project, metropolitan European society was deemed vulnerable from a brutish and unruly working class, these colonial outposts of Western society were even more vulnerable to what was deemed to be the more insidious dangers of miscegenation and cultural hybridity. Where nineteenth century educators typically suggested that working class children were “at risk” of not being able to benefit from, and simultaneously representing “a risk to”, the emerging opportunities of bourgeois capitalist society, this “risk” was accentuated in the colonies by the additional category of race. Focussing on the question of children of mixed parentage as a category of “children at risk”, this paper examines the way educationists and politicians responded to what was perceived as “civilisational decline” in four such communities - the Dutch East Indies, British India, (British) Australia and French Indo-China - to demonstrate the universality of these concerns in Imperial Asia.
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