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A pornografia rodou o mundo…

‘Obscenity, Empire and Global Networks’
Deana Heath

The expansion of the material networks in the British Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century, while facilitating the global conveyance of commodities ranging from tea to textiles and bayonets to bodies, also made possible the spread of books, magazines, and other print matter—including obscene publications. By the end of the nineteenth century the British Empire had thus come to serve as a vast network for the purveyance of obscene publications and other print matter, not simply between metropole and colonies but between colonies. This paper explores the role that national, imperial and global networks of traders played, on the one hand, in disseminating such print matter and the role of vigilance networks, on the other, in trying to put a stop to its distribution. It argues that, through transforming the regulation of obscenity into a project of imperial hygiene, the goal of such vigilance networks was to erect a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around the empire in order to protect it from becoming ‘corrupt’ and ‘degenerate.’

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