Compulsory smallpox vaccination was introduced to Algeria by decree on 27 May 1907. After World War I, the combination of public health crises, racialized fears of contagion, and the objective of mise en valeur prompted the colonial state to make Muslim villagers in the communes mixtes a more systematic target of smallpox vaccination. This was achieved in large part thanks to the efforts of Muslim medical auxiliaries. This article reconstructs the kinds of training, labor, and clerical skills embodied in these agents’ administration of vaccination. It also examines the accommodation and contestation of their presence by officials, politicians, and villagers. The author argues that the administrative bureaucracy generated by vaccination may have preceded and enabled the expansion of state registration in rural areas during the interwar period, but ultimately was more effective at disciplining the medical auxiliary than it was at controlling villagers or the smallpox virus.
Medical Auxiliaries, Smallpox, and the Colonial State in the Communes mixtes
Teaching the Female Body in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan
This chapter explores the process of reforming ‘refractory’ female bodies in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. It discusses the goals of the Midwives Training School in Omdurman and the methods of the British women who established it during the 1920s and 1930s in light of ethnographic data from the rural north. I suggest that while midwifery training had contradictory outcomes and failed to under- mine the logic that underpinned the practice of pharaonic (female) circumcision, some aspects of it became woven into the fabric of Sudanese daily life in unexpected ways. Parties to the colonizing venture looked, inescapably, in two directions at once: to the imme- diate situation in which they were mutually engaged, and to the respective cultural contexts of health from whence they came and in which they remained grounded.
Photography and Ethnographic Complexity in Central Cape York Peninsula
Benjamin R. Smith
This essay addresses anthropological engagement with photography in indigenous Australian contexts. Following the work of Gell and Edwards, and drawing on the history of photography and ethnography in central Cape York Peninsula, I explore some ways that photographs may exceed relations of objectification and exoticism. Many ethnographic photographs have continued to circulate within and beyond Cape York Peninsula, while others have been returned to the descendants of those portrayed. This process of circulation may be accompanied by shifts in the meanings drawn from images, and increasing numbers of photographs are being taken by Aboriginal people themselves. Both these photographs and the engagement of earlier photographs by Aboriginal people demonstrate differences with the ways that photographs are dealt with in ‘Western’ contexts. Whether as ‘social things’, as objects, or as distributed aspects of the agency of those taking or featuring in them, photographs remain active in their interaction with viewers and demand a more nuanced analysis of colonial relationships.
The Diasporic Lives of Concepts
People, plants, and animals travel; so do theories, ideas, and concepts. Concepts migrate across disciplines—from the sciences to the humanities and back—oft en repurposed to theorize new objects in new contexts. Many terms span species and disciplines, from human contexts in ethnic studies, post/colonial studies to scientific/biological terminology: native, alien, local, foreign, colonizer, colonized, naturalized, pioneer, refugee, founder, resident. In this article, I explore concepts around mobility and “migration” and how the values and political contexts accompanying these concepts circulate across geopolitical and scientific terrains. In extending theories of migration to examining the history of science, I explore the migrations and diasporic lives of concepts.
“Iraq tribal study,” al-Anbar's awakening, and social science
Roberto J. González
The concept of the “tribe” has captured the imagination of military planners, who have been inspired partly by social scientists. Interest in tribes stems from events in Iraq's al-Anbar province, where the US military has co-opted Sunni “tribal” leaders. Some social scientists have capitalized on these developments by doing contract work for the Pentagon. For example, the “Iraq tribal study”—prepared by a private company consisting of anthropologists and political scientists among others—suggests employing colonial-era techniques (such as divide and conquer) for social control. It also advocates bribing local leaders, a method that has become part of the US military's pacification strategy. Such imperial policing techniques are likely to aggravate armed conflict between and among ethnic groups and religious sects. Observers report that the US strategy is creating a dangerous situation resembling the Lebanese civil war, raising ethical questions about social scientists' involvement in these processes.
The Ambiguities of Colonial and Post-Colonial Sentiment
Matt Matsuda and Alice Bullard
A collection of essays dedicated to the history of sentiment and emotions in the constitution of imperial and colonial projects. Subjects range from eighteenth-century marriage and military careers, to ethnically mixed couples during the Great War, to contemporary "arranged marriage" television programs in Madagascar. The collection also traces constructions of nineteenth and twentieth-century female slavery in Morocco, and meditations on family rooted and professional contexts in Laos and New Caledonia, complicating links between personal experience and historiographic knowledge. A closing essay draws together many of the themes with a detailed reading of key texts in colonial and postcolonial psychiatry.
Fatal Homesickness in French Algeria
People once died of nostalgia. This article traces the remarkable trajectory of “la nostalgie africaine” from its original understanding as a clinical form of homesickness to the wistful, but wholly benign, feeling we are familiar with today. It does so by looking at French attempts at colonizing Algeria in the nineteenth century against the backdrop of changing medico-scientific theories of human acclimatization to warm climates. I argue that the latter provoked a positive reevaluation of homesickness and led to the development of a “nostalgic simulacra”: a replica French environment capable of sustaining the sepia-tainted illusion of an “Algérie française.”
Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France
Between 1998 and 2006, the memory of slavery in France developed from a marginalized issue into a priority of the state. This article examines the process in which community activists and state actors interacted with and against one another to integrate remembrance and the commemoration of slavery and its abolitions into a Republican national narrative. It focuses on a series of actions from the protests against the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1998 to the creation of the 10 May National Memorial Day to Slavery and Its Abolitions in 2006. Basing its analysis on oral history interviews and various publications, this article argues that “memory activists”—and particularly new anti-racist groups—mobilized the memory of slavery to address issues of community identity and resistance within the context of twenty-first-century republicanism. In so doing, they articulated a new kind of black identity in France.
Narrating the History of “Empire” in France, 1885–1900
In the 1880s and 1890s, a wave of histories of colonial empire appeared in France. But even though they were produced by members of similar republican colonial advocacy groups, these accounts narrated the history of empire in contradictory ways. Some positioned “colonial empire” as an enterprise with ancient roots, while others treated modern colonization as distinct. Some argued that French colonial empire was a unique enterprise in line with republican ideals, but others insisted that it was a European-wide project that transcended domestic political questions. By tracing the differences between these accounts, this article highlights the flexibility that characterized late nineteenth-century republican understandings of empire. It also points to the ways republican advocates for colonial expansion during this period looked both historically and comparatively to legitimize their visions for empire’s future in France.
Realities of Black Girlhood in a Settler State
Kandice A. Sumner
In this article I examine my lived experience as a Black girl in a white settler state using an autoethnographic approach within the framework of critical race and feminist theory to unpack the deleteriousness of existing as a Black female in a white educational settler state. Drawing on my doctoral research, I conclude that greater attention, in terms of theory and praxis as well as compassion, needs to be applied to the educational journeys of Black girls in white settler states, particularly in predominantly white schools.