In Experiments with Empire Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of knowing the colonial and postcolonial world. Focusing on novels, films, and ethnographies that combine fictive elements and anthropological methods and modes of thought, Izzo shows how empire gives ethnographic fictions the raw materials for thinking beyond empire's political and epistemological boundaries. In works by French surrealist writer Michel Leiris and filmmaker Jean Rouch, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, and others, anthropology no longer functions on behalf of imperialism as a way to understand and administer colonized peoples; its relationship with imperialism gives writers and artists the opportunity for textual experimentation and political provocation. It also, Izzo contends, helps readers to better make sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.
About the Author
Justin Izzo is Assistant Professor of French Studies at Brown University.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments vii Introduction: Ethnographic Fictions in the French Atlantic 1 1. Ethnographic Didacticism and Africanist Melancholy: Leiris, Hampăté Bă, and the Epistemology of Style 17 2. The Director of Modern Life: Jean Rouch's Ethnofiction 55 3. Folkore, Fiction, and Ethnographic Nation Building: Price-Mars, Alexis, Depestre, Laferrière 98 4. Creole Novels and the Ethnographic Production of Literary History: Glissant, Chamoiseau, Confiant 134 5. Speculative Cityscapes and Premillennial Policing: Ethnographies of the Present in Jean-Claude Izzo's Crime Trilogy 169 Conclusion: Empire, Democracy, and Nonsovereign Knowledges 203 Notes 217 Bibliography 257 Index
What People are Saying About This
“Taking up a set of important issues regarding anthropology, colonialism, and the politics of representation, Justin Izzo shows how ethnographic fictions not only demonstrate the limitations of anthropological knowledge, they become alternative anthropologies of colonial and postcolonial encounters. Experiments with Empire should be read by scholars interested in questions of empire, knowledge production, and aesthetics. It grapples with the kind of political and epistemological questions that should be central to the next generation of postcolonial studies.”
“Justin Izzo's fascinating study brings to life the experimental ethnographic fictions created by writers and filmmakers in French colonial spaces on both sides of the Atlantic, revealing alternative modes of life and ways of knowing the world that arise within empire from below. He shows us how these twentieth-century experimentations open potential avenues for developing democratic futures in our time.”