Colonialism's Culture: Anthropology, Travel, and Government / Edition 1

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Despite the worldwide trend toward decolonization over the past century and the frequent use of the term "postcolonial" to describe the present, the ramifications of colonialism are so enduring that colonialism itself merits ongoing reinterpretation. In this book, Nicholas Thomas greatly expands our understanding of colonialism beyond its characterization as a homogenous ideology supporting military conquest and economic exploitation. He reveals it to be a complex cultural process - one in which dominated populations are each represented in specific ways that play upon and legitimize racial and cultural differences. Focusing on colonizing efforts in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the author explores how Europeans perceived certain colonized populations and how recent scholars have approached the question of colonial representation. Arguing against general analyses of colonialism, he proposes that a historicized, ethnographic investigation of colonialism would best lead to a fruitful discussion of its continued effects. Throughout this work, Thomas draws on anthropology, travel, and government as vehicles that gave Europeans exposure to colonized populations and provided a language through which to discuss them. Using examples from the texts of eighteenth-century anthropologists, nineteenth-century missionaries, and colonial administrators, and novelists like John Buchan, he exposes an array of discourses, each expressing internal conflict over the concepts of human difference and otherness. He also shows the emergence of romanticizing, sentimental, and exoticist images of others, which, as racially denigrating as these images often are, nevertheless continue to play a significant role today, both in liberal attitudes toward other cultures and in scholarly disciplines. Offering a wide-ranging account of the development of ideas about human difference, this book will offer students across the social sciences and humanities a stimulating introductio
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What People Are Saying

David Hanlon
An exciting, highly unsettling book that attempts to challenge reigning theories and theorists on the matter of colonialism.
David Hanlon, University of Hawaii
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691037318
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/2/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Thomas is the author of several previous books including Out of Time: History and Evolution in Anthropological Discourse (Cambridge University Press, 1989) and Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific (Harvard, 1991).
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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction 1
1 From Present to Past: the Politics of Colonial Studies 11
2 Culture and Rule: Theories of Colonial Discourse 33
3 From Past to Present: Colonial Epochs, Agents, and Locations 66
4 Colonial Governmentality and Colonial Conversion 105
5 Imperial Triumph, Settler Failure 143
6 The Primitivist and the Postcolonial 170
Notes 196
Notes to Plates 231
Index 235
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