“The Right Woman in the Right Place”: Mary Seacole and Corrective Histories of Empire
Keywords:Empire, Gender, Feminism
Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, the 1857 autobiography and war memoir by Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole, has had a long and prolific afterlife in British and Caribbean public imaginations. This essay traces the “corrective histories” deployed to re-order Seacole’s narrative into more contemporary political frameworks of anti-racism, multiculturalism, and humanitarianism. In doing so, this article lays bare the constructions of postcolonial black experience, and suggests an interpretive methodology that conceptually allows for and indeed centers on the complex experiences of black women in the diaspora. This includes a recognition of the limits of current conceptual frames of inclusion, agency, and resistance in black postcolonial studies and studies of Empire.