Engaging critically with literature on mimesis, colonialism, and the state in anthropology and history, this introduction argues for an approach to mimesis and imitation as constitutive of the state and its forms of rule and governmentality in the context of late European colonialism. It explores how the colonial state attempted to administer, control, and integrate its indigenous subjects through mimetic policies of governance, while examining how indigenous polities adopted imitative practices in order to establish reciprocal ties with, or to resist the presence of, the colonial state. In introducing this special issue, three main themes will be addressed: mimesis as a strategic policy of colonial government, as an object of colonial regulation, and, finally, as a creative indigenous appropriation of external forms of state power.
Mimetic Governmentality, Colonialism, and the State
Patrice Ladwig and Ricardo Roque
This article compares and contrasts liberal democracy and national democracy. It attempts this by focusing on each of these as specific state forms with an effectivity or 'tilt' of their own which includes a determinate preconstruction of the category of the People. It is argued, inter alia, that internal to national democracy is a conception of colonialism (and anti-colonialism) and that the national-racial reference is thus internal to the national democratic conception of equality. In conclusion it is proposed that the tilt of a state form is expressed via the distinction of grammatical mood between the imperative and the subjunctive and that the 1994 South African Constitution, when read in this way, is more liberal democratic than national democratic.
The concept of internal colonialism h as been used to frame studies of marginalized populations exploited by the dominant or majority population. Brazil’s regional inequalities have gained notoriety, as wealth tends to be concentrated in the southern regions, while poverty is most rampant in the north and northeast. Inequality in Brazil is connected to geographic region and related to complex factors such as race, ethnicity, color, kinship, and class, and is deeply rooted in Brazil’s colonial history. Using data from in-depth, qualitative interviews with seasonal sugarcane workers, this article argues that the inequality that motivates their migration pattern is rooted in internal colonialism. These temporary labor migrants travel from northern and northeastern states to the cane fields of São Paulo, where labor demands are high and they face many of the challenges that international labor migrants encounter, including discrimination, poor wages, and inhumane working conditions.
This article examines the role played by the nòva cançon occitana (new Occitan song) in disseminating post-1968 regionalist ideologies, particularly the contention that Occitanie constituted an “internal colony” of France. While both the nòva cançon and the internal colonialism thesis proved instrumental in advancing the Occitanist cause, they also raised intractable problems. The depiction of Occitanie as a colonized territory consolidated a fragile sense of regional identity, but in so doing demanded that individuals repress the French dimensions of their identity. In addition, nòva cançon performers did not simply convey regionalist ideals through music, but were compelled to embody these ideals in their behavior, ideological stance, and self-presentation. To illuminate such tensions, the article considerers the controversy triggered when one Occitan singer-songwriter, Joan Pau Verdier, signed with an international label, thereby opening himself up to charges of having betrayed the Occitanist cause.
This article reconstructs the evolution of the representation of Italian colonialism in history textbooks for upper secondary schools from the Fascist era to the present day. Textbook analysis is conducted here in parallel with the development of Italian historiography, with special attention being paid to the myth of the "good Italian", incapable of war crimes and violence against civilians, that has been cherished by Italian public opinion for a long time. Italian historians have thoroughly reconstructed the crimes perpetrated by the Italian army both in the colonies and in Yugoslavia and Greece during the Second World War, and this issue has slowly entered history textbooks.
German Television and Colonialism
Over the last decade, an increasing number of documentaries and fictional films broadcast on German television has established an image of German colonialism that claims to be informed by postcolonial criticism but, as I argue in this article, often resembles the image created by colonialism itself. Das Weltreich der Deutschen (The Global German Empire, 2010), a documentation produced by Guido Knopp, serves as an example for the close connection between practices of representation and colonial fantasies, and demonstrates how the combination of entertainment and education obscures the fact that colonialism has been not only a practice of political domination and economical exploitation, but also a practice of representation.
Theory and Interpretation in the Justification of Colonialism
In this article I want to draw upon examples from European settlement in the Americas, Australasia and South Africa in order to argue that modern colonisation and imperialism, despite considerable variation, drew upon a range of justificatory principles which constituted a background theory, or worldview, that was invoked in part or in its entirety in justifying the civilising mission which was viewed by its proponents as both a right and a duty. I begin by showing how the infamous ‘Requirement’ (‘Requerimiento’) of 1513 becomes intelligible as a performative utterance when connected to the constellation of ideas which makes it warrantably assertible, to use John Dewey’s terminology. It is not so much about the land or its use in conceptual terms but instead about the larger value judgements the colonists were applying. It is contended that despite the variation in emphases and conclusions, and the different levels of discourse at which justifications are offered, the efficacy and veracity of colonial and imperialist justifications invoke the authority of the world of ideas in which the assertions alone have intelligibility.
Decolonising Colonialism and Its Legacies in Africa
In order effectively to decolonise Africa we need to understand better the economic and political effects of colonialism in and on Africa today. To achieve that understanding we need to look beyond the tired, well-trodden themes in African historiography and political theory. Liberalism, communism, African and Afrikaner nationalism, localised cultural and social histories and related ideological conflicts of identity have failed to grasp and explain the relations of power that continue to operate at the level of economics, finance, education, war and politics. These factors have not adequately been thought through theoretically, precisely because they are treated as inevitable material circumstances separate from the longue durée of justifying ideas, enduring practices and relations of power and the persistence of institutions even, in many cases, sixty years after independence from colonial rule.
Old Paradigms, Current Tendencies, New Directions
Over the past three decades modern French history has undergone important changes, introducing new methodologies and taking up new questions. Two directions are especially promising. Since the “global turn” of the 1990s, many French historians have shifted their focus outside of the hexagon to examine France in a global and transnational context. Their work has explored the contradictions of France's democratic heritage and exclusionary practices evident in the history of colonialism, immigration, and ethno-racial exclusion. A second body of research has addressed the gender dimensions of French colonialism and has examined how colonialism deployed sexuality and sexual difference in maintaining colonial rule. Both strands of research have demonstrated how France's engagement beyond the hexagon has shaped French institutions and social life.
When compared to the extensive historiography on missionary activity, the anthropology of missions is a relative newcomer, emerging as such in the context of the recent critique of the colonial system. In view of the importance of historiographical literature in outlining the subject, on the one hand, and of the impact of the decolonization of the African continent on anthropology, on the other hand, my purposes in this essay are, firstly, to examine how the historiography of colonial America and of African colonialism has handled the subject of missions; secondly, to describe the role of missionary activity in the historiographical debate in the context of the crisis of colonialism; and, lastly, to analyze how post-colonial critique has given rise to a new anthropology of missions.