The experiences of army officers’ wives stationed in British India and the U.S. West during the period 1830–1875 offer a critical dimension to understandings of imperialism. This comparative analysis argues that these women designed a distinct identity that blueprinted, directed, and legitimized the ambitions of empire. In feminizing the Army’s ranking system, officers’ wives appropriated and wielded male authority. Military homes—a space where class, race, ethnicity, and gender intersected—functioned as operational sites of empire, and, in managing household servants, officers’ wives both designed and endorsed the principles of benevolent imperialism. Whether adjudicating local disputes, emasculating soldier-servants of lower rank, or enacting the social norms of the metropole, these women confidently executed their duty as imperial agents.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.