This article aims to explore the consequences of including Ottoman studies in the larger field of imperial studies. It strives to combine a close reading of the Ottoman imperial epithets with considerations of how the Ottomans may contribute to theorizing empire as a model. In particular, the article engages in a discussion of whether the "sublime sultanate" developed into a colonial pattern of empire over its final century of existence. As it turns out, the Ottoman practice of administration did not come down to a simulacrum of European colonialism; the article points instead to a semiotics of empire that took its cue from a multidimensional logic of governmentality. Accordingly, archival idiosyncrasies are taken to imply the contrary of an Ottoman exceptionalism. They serve rather to highlight that concepts carry with them a vast repertoire of meanings to be activated in practice.
The Ottomans' Leverage with Imperial Studies
Re-Narrating the Political Life of a Laotian Subject
This essay considers the role of personal, affective history in shaping historiography, and more precisely, a post-colonial history of Laos. Relying on a variety of sources, official and family photographs, US diplomatic documents, telegrams and personal notes, and against the backdrop of multiple losses, this article problematizes the questions of biography and the complex links between the personal and the "historical" by narrating my father's professional trajectory over three decades as a civil servant and career diplomat. Pheng Norindr represented Laos at the 1962 Geneva Conference and became the Laotian envoy to the United Stated during the Vietnam War. His entanglement with French colonialism and Cold War politics offers a point of entry into a Laotian historiography that is critical of a monolithic Western history of Laos.
A Re-Evaluation of The Color Curtain
The Color Curtain reflects Richard Wright's problematical assessment of the 1955 Bandung Conference and his difficult attempts to reconcile his sincere denunciation of the consequences of colonialism and racism on people of Asian and African descent with his condescending representation of Third World nationalism during the middle of the twentieth century. The book reveals striking paradoxes in Wright's evaluation of a nationalism that he occasionally vilifies as an ideology that was grounded on impassioned and essentialist cultural or religious affiliations and feelings. Yet Wright's demeaning, elitist, and patronizing attitudes about Third World nationalism and cultures did not prevent him from identifying with the core spirit of the Bandung Conference. In his assessment of the summit, Wright occasionally reveals his admiration for a Third World nationalism that echoed his disparagement of Western racism and imperialism.
The Ker-Is Legend in Bande Dessinée
This article examines two bande dessinée versions of the Breton legend of the flooded city of Ker-Is, Robert Lortac’s 1943 À la découverte de Ker-Is (published in children’s magazine O lo lê) and Claude Auclair and Alain Deschamps’s 1981 Bran Ruz. It argues that through the continuation or appropriation of the legend, these comics offer ideologically filtered views of Bretonness and Brittany from two different politico-historical contexts, occupied France and the postcolonial era. The article also analyses how comic art can be used in productive ways to represent Brittany as a stateless culture, including through text-image reiteration or supplementarity, and using the double page for a bilingual parallel textual-visual practice. It concludes by suggesting that the study of internal colonialism and peripheries such as Brittany is an important addition to research into postcolonial comics.
E. P. Thompson, C. L. R. James, and the Afterlives of Internationalism
In 1983, H. O. Nazareth directed a film called Talking History, which brought together E. P. Thompson and C. L. R. James in conversation. The soundtrack was composed by Spartacus R, former bassist for the Black Rock band, Osibisa. Over the twenty years since the publication of The Making of the English Working Class in 1963, Thompson had confronted several questions around colonialism, law, and constitutionalism that had not found emphasis in The Making. Talking History marks a unique point in the trajectory of Thompson's engagement with some of those questions, while simultaneously revealing the limits of that engagement. In addition to being a useful window into the political worldview of James and Thompson in the early 1980s, the film is also demonstrative of the afterlives of internationalism in the twentieth century. This article argues that revisiting internationalism, as a practice of political activism and critical dialogue, with its possibilities and limits, allows us to carefully rethink some of our contemporary political and intellectual practices.
The Human-Fish Nexus in Lake Baikal
Nicholas B. Breyfogle
This article explores the history of fishing on Lake Baikal in an effort to understand the fish-human nexus, to expand our understandings of the Russian relationship to the environment before the twentieth century, and to think about the colonial encounter in Siberia from an environmental angle. Fishing has long been a crucial, life-sustaining, and culturally important component of life at Baikal; and fish and people have long existed in mutually influential and intertwined webs of relations. Fish populations declined markedly in Baikal from the late eighteenth century on-a drop with which Soviet fishers and policymakers continued to struggle throughout the twentieth century. The fate of Baikal's fish was the result of 1) the tax-farming, market-based economic structures of tsarist colonialism and 2) the new fishing technologies that Russian settlers brought with them to the practice of fishing-both of which were "revolutionary" transformations from the pre-colonial Buriat and Evenk fishing methods and systems. Notably, this massive fish population decrease came about before any industrial change affected the area. Humans, this story shows, do not need to have industrial machines with their extractive capabilities and pollution by-products in order to bring about systemic ecological and evolutionary changes.
The Olov Janse Case
Johan Hegardt and Anna Källén
This article explores the movements of archaeological and ethnographic objects and museum collections connected with the Swedish-born archaeologist and ethnographer Olov R. T. Janse (1892–1985). Janse pursued a cosmopolitan career in the years between 1920 and 1960, in and between the national contexts of Sweden, France, Indochina, the Philippines, and the United States, where he found himself in different political contexts such as colonialism, nationalism, and the Cold War. He initiated object exchanges between French and Swedish museums, and he collected archaeological and ethnographic objects from Indochina and the Philippines for museums in Sweden, France, and the United States. The complexity of object movements in the wake of Olov Janse's career suggests that we should think and talk about object mobility in terms of translation rather than simple transmission. In seven sections, each exploring one chapter of Janse's life, we discuss how changes in world politics became entangled with changes in Janse's own position as an archaeologist and ethnographer, affecting the movements of objects and contributing to an active translation of their meaning.
An Indigenous Critique of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
Lauren Eichler and David Baumeister
Within the mainstream environmental movement, regulated hunting is commonly defended as a tool for preserving and managing populations of wild animals for future generations. We argue that this justification, encapsulated in the seven principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, perpetuates settler colonialism—an institutional and theoretical apparatus that systemically eliminates Indigenous peoples, expropriates Indigenous lands, and disqualifies Indigenous worldviews— insofar as it manifests an anthropocentric ideology that objectifies hunted animals as “natural resources” to be extracted. Because this ideology is antithetical to Indigenous views, its imposition through hunting regulation interrupts Indigenous lifeways, contributing to the destruction of Indigenous identity.
Robert Knox's An Historical Relation of Ceylon and the New England Captivity Narrative Tradition
Robert Knox's An Historical Relation of Ceylon (1681) has not been afforded the same critical attention as seventeenth-century captivity narratives from the Americas. This article suggests that considering Knox's work alongside American captivity narratives can help to suggest a more global, comparative approach to the study of captivity, colonialism, and cross-cultural negotiations.
Thinking Differently Under Colonialism
Fanny Colonna, Le Meunier, les moines et le bandit: Des vies quotidiennes dans l’Aurès (Algérie) du XXe siècle (Paris: Actes Sud, 2010).
Fanny Colonna, La Vie ailleurs: Des “Arabes” en Corse à la fin du XIXe siècle (Paris: Actes Sud, 2015).