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Peter Hudson

This article discusses aspects of Rick Turner’s life and thought based on the author’s relationship with Turner in the 1970s. It weaves together an apercu into Turner as a person with a reflection on where Turner stood in the intellectual milieu of South African in the 1970s. His basic orientation in philosophy was a commitment to the self-transcending subject of Sartre, and this is discussed in relation to The Eye of the Needle, psychoanalysis and the Althusserian repudiation of the subject, which had by then reached the South African left.

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Portrait of the Artist as Colonised Subject

Fanon, Rancière and the Struggle Toward Decolonisation on the Aesthetic Front

Matthias Pauwels

This article engages with Frantz Fanon’s writings on different responses by artists among colonised peoples to the fact of their colonisation. Fanon develops a dialectical account in which an initial stage of assimilation of Western techniques and paradigms is followed by a phase of immersion in African artistic traditions. These two phases then function as prelude to a third, combative stage which is presented as the most efficacious and authentic way for artists to play their part in decolonisation. The article problematises the temporal logic and implicit hierarchies of Fanon’s account. It does so by using Jacques Rancière’s redemptive reading of early working class mobilisations in 1830s and 1840s France, prior to the advent of Marxian proletarian politics, as a counterpoint. The article here finds a different, more affirmative, nondialectical and non-historicist way of evaluating the liberatory potential of artistic practices by the colonised prior to combative decolonisation.

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Marriage as Crisis

Revisiting a Major Dispute among Hadhramis in Indonesia

Martin Slama

Disputes over marriage rules triggered perhaps the most significant crisis in the history of the Hadhrami diaspora in Indonesia. Once this trade diaspora had become integrated into the colonial economy of the nineteenth century, rules that emphasized endogamy, especially for women, were questioned by those Hadhramis influenced by Islamic reformism, resulting in a schism of the community. This article revisits the marriage issue by looking at current disputes among Hadhramis, and at how the initial crisis has become institutionalized as well as engrained in collective memory. It also examines what upholding these rules implies for young women today, with personal crises triggered by difficulties in finding suitable marriage partners. The article's main argument rests upon a conception of crisis that attends to its latent character, to its longevity and recurrent appearance, and sees it as inherent to the intricacies of Hadhrami marriage.

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Sarah Besky and Jonathan Padwe

In this article, we use plants to think about territory, a concept that is at once a bulwark of social theory and an under-theorized category of social analysis. Scholarship on plants brings together three overlapping approaches to territory: biological and behaviorist theories; representational and cartographic perspectives; and more-than-human analysis. We argue that these three approaches are not mutually exclusive. Rather, different epistemologies of territory overlap and are imbricated within each other. We further argue that these three approaches to territory inform three distinct domains of territoriality: legibility and surveillance; ordering and classification; and exclusion and inclusion. Through examples of how plants operate in these three domains, we illustrate the analytical potential that a more-than-human approach to territory provides. We conclude, however, that attention to the particularities of plant ecologies can help move multispecies discussions more firmly into the realm of the political economic.

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Canon Fire

Decolonizing the Curriculum

Andrew Sanchez

Despite sustained critical attention to the politics of knowledge, contemporary anthropology disproportionately engages with ideas produced by academics based in European and North American universities. The ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ movement speaks to core areas of anthropological interest while making a critical comment on the academic structures in which anthropologists produce their work. The articles in this collection interrogate the terms on which academic work engages with its own history, and ask how the production of knowledge relates to structures of race, gender and location. The collection considers the historical, political and institutional context of the ‘decolonizing the curriculum’ movement, the potential impact that the movement might make on education and research, and the major challenges facing it.

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Smith in Beijing, Stalin in Urumchi

Ethnicity, political economy, and violence in Xinjiang, 1759–2009

Chris Hann

The extraordinary growth rates of China’s “reform socialist” economy have helped to finance not only the United States’ debt but also large-scale transfers to the country’s underdeveloped regions. Yet violence in Tibet in 2008 was followed in July 2009 by major rioting in Xinjiang. This article approaches the latter events through the analysis of contemporary labor markets, socialist policies toward ethnic minorities, and the history of Xinjiang’s incorporation into the Manchu empire. Theoretical inspiration for this longue durée analysis is drawn from Adam Smith, via Giovanni Arrighi’s recent reassessment of the Smithian market model; anthropological work points to flaws in this vision.

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Richard S. Fogarty

During the First World War, more than 500,000 colonial subjects served in the French Army. As these men, known as troupes indigenes, helped defend France from invasion, many of them had sexual and romantic relationships with French women. Such intimate contacts across the color line transgressed strict boundaries that separated the non-white colonized from white colonizers, boundaries that helped construct and sustain colonial rule. Thus these interracial relationships produced acute anxieties in the minds of French officials, who worried that their failure to control the passions and desires of colonial men and metropolitan women would ultimately undermine the French empire.

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Of Pirates, Postcards, and Public Beheadings

The Pedagogic Execution in French Colonial Indochina

Michael G. Vann

While there is a large body of literature on violence in colonial history, most studies have looked at either the bloodshed of conquest, major revolts, or decolonization. Despite the undeniable importance of such moments in the history of empire, an over-emphasis on these events creates a punctuated narrative where violence enters the story line, rears its ugly head, and then retreats. This paper argues that a complete understanding of the colonial encounter requires us to look at the violence in the many days between the arrival of the colonizers' expeditionary forces and the final achievement of national liberation. By examining the intersection between a rebellious band of pirates, a colonial state bent on revenge, and an opportunistic postcard maker, the portrait that emerges is one of a colonial society where violence was not just commonplace but an essential technique in maintaining the colonial order. Be it in the form of criminal violence that challenged French rule, the institutionalized violence of the state execution, or the symbolic reminders of such violence in the form of cheap postcards for sale in the city streets, acts, images, and memories of colonial violence were omnipresent. Importantly, the colonial state publicized its violence, making its ability to punish known to all. This violence terrorized the conquered native population and reassured the vulnerable white community. It is only in this context that other topics in colonial history such as educational reforms, city planning, and economic development can be understood.

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Passions and Purposes

Acting Faith and Nostalgia in New Caledonia

Matt K. Matsuda

As developed since the seventeenth century, the concept and experience of nostalgia has been linked to individuals or groups displaced from, and longing for, a distant site they consider to be “home.” Colonial historians have also noted that indigenous peoples, such as Australian Aborigines or the Kanak in New Caledonia, may suffer from “solastalgia,” that is, homesickness while “still at home” because they have been subjects with restricted rights on what was once their own territory. The thoughts and writings of Kanak seminarian and anticolonial activist Jean-Marie Tjibaou are analyzed to demonstrate the ways that Kanak communities have shaped locally rooted identities through traditions of genealogy to assert continuities in their own history. Special focus is given here to Tjibaou's seminary training and his appropriation of Biblical stories and teachings to make points about suffering, charity, nobility, and challenges to authority, both in staged passion plays and in Kanak versions of the Christian Word.

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“Between Us and the French There Are No Profound Differences”

Colonialism and the Possibilities of a Franco-German Rapprochement before 1914

Jens-Uwe Guettel

This article argues against the importance of colonial tensions for the worsening of Franco-German relations between the two Moroccan Crises in 1905 and 1911. Traditionally, historians have interpreted the clashes of French and German interests over Morocco in the first two decades of the twentieth century as putting France and Germany on the path to armed conflict in 1914. This article shows, however, that the First Moroccan Crisis engendered intense efforts by both German and French pro-colonialists to come to a peaceful understanding with each other. The article thus demonstrates that in the early years of the twentieth century, French and German colonialists indeed thought in transnational terms; that is, their understanding of their own and their counterpart's interests was based on the recognition of mutually shared values and racial features that transcended both countries' European borders.