The language of contemporary cultural theory shows remarkable similarities with the patterns of thought which characterised Victorian racial theory. Far from being marked by a separation from the racialised thinking of the past, Colonial Desire shows we are operating in complicity with historical ways of viewing 'the other', both sexually and racially.
Colonial Desire is a controversial and bracing study of the history of Englishness and 'culture'. Robert Young argues that the theories advanced today about post-colonialism and ethnicity are disturbingly close to the colonial discourse of the nineteenth century. 'Englishness', Young argues, has been less fixed and stable than uncertain, fissured with difference and a desire for otherness.