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.
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