Amateur enthusiasms and colonial museum policy in British West Africa
As one gazes up at the monumental cotton tree that
stands at the symbolic centre of Freetown it is easy to miss the unprepossessing little
bungalow that it both literally and metaphorically overshadows. Once a telephone exchange,
and before that a railway station, since 1957 this inconspicuous building has housed SierraLeone’s National Museum. With its antiquated displays and chaotic storerooms, the
museum is little visited today and barely has resources to pay the meagre salaries of its few
staff members, let
The global reconciliation discourse and its local performance
The global reconciliation discourse
performs in particular on the local level as it is here, in post-conflict
societies, that the reconciliation discourse is deployed as a tool of
post-conflict peacebuilding. This chapter focuses on the example of SierraLeone in order to explore how the global reconciliation discourse is brought
to new local contexts and how it performs there. In particular, it aims to
4 The Kosovo and SierraLeone
‘There is only one person arguing for ground troops’ to go into
Kosovo, commented a senior NATO official as the alliance pondered
its options, ‘and that is Tony Blair’.1 Blair was indeed alone during late
April and May 1999 in pushing forcefully for an invasion of Kosovo to
halt Serbian ethnic cleansing operations, and his stance, which was
judged by some to be close to ‘messianic’,2 provoked high anger from
President Clinton, ‘widespread bafflement’ from the French,3 and a
questioning of his judgment from some cabinet
ethnic – understandings of British identity in the empire further
complicate the story of the British world. Black loyalists who fought
with the British in the American Revolution and were resettled in Nova
Scotia and then SierraLeone; black South Africans who fought with the
British in their imperial wars; ‘Afro-Victorians’ who served
in colonial administrations and ran the empire in Africa; and the
This book offers a new and critical perspective on the global reconciliation technology by highlighting its contingent and highly political character as an authoritative practice of post-conflict peacebuilding. After retracing the emergence of the reconciliation discourse from South Africa to the global level, the book demonstrates how implementing reconciliation in post-conflict societies is a highly political practice which entails potentially undesirable consequences for the post-conflict societies to which it is deployed. Inquiring into the example of Sierra Leone, the book shows how the reconciliation discourse brings about the marginalization and neutralization of political claims and identities of local populations by producing these societies as being composed of the ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ of past human rights violations which are first and foremost in need of reconciliation and healing.
Africa was a key focus of Britain's foreign policy under Tony Blair. Military intervention in Sierra Leone, increases in aid and debt relief, and grand initiatives such as the Commission for Africa established the continent as a place in which Britain could ‘do good’. This book critically explores Britain's fascination with Africa. It argues that, under New Labour, Africa represented an area of policy which appeared to transcend politics. Gradually, it came to embody an ideal state activity around which politicians, officials and the wider public could coalesce, leaving behind more contentious domestic and international issues. Building on the story of Britain and Africa under Blair, the book draws wider conclusions about the role of ‘good’ and idealism in foreign policy. In particular, it discusses how international relations provide opportunities to create and pursue ideals, and why they are essential for the wellbeing of political communities. The book argues that state actors project the idea of ‘good’ onto idealised, distant objects, in order to restore a sense of the ‘good state’.
Frédéric Le Marcis, Luisa Enria, Sharon Abramowitz, Almudena-Mari Saez, and Sylvain Landry B. Faye
and negotiated through localised encounters. 1
We present three ethnographic cases based on first-hand, epidemic-related field
observations of community engagement and local resistance. The authors were involved
in diverse ways in SierraLeone (Luisa Enria), Liberia (Almudena Mari Saez 2 ) and Guinea
(Frédéric Le Marcis and Sylvain Landry B. Faye) and as part of the
global response coordination (Sharon Abramowitz). These case studies, directly
observed by the authors
An editorial printed in the Artisan , a Creole
newspaper published in SierraLeone, suggests the generative power of ordinary colonial
geographies – the real and imagined worlds of colonial subjects rather than government
officials or metropolitan travel writers – within imperial sexuality politics.
Here in the numerous dark approaches are imparted and
received many first lessons in a course of error, hard to be removed, if even repented of.
Perhaps unadvisedly, young and inexperienced
The suppression of the Atlantic slave trade has puzzled nineteenth-century contemporaries and historians. The British Empire turned naval power and moral outrage against a branch of commerce it had done so much to promote. This book deals with the British Royal Navy's suppression of the Atlantic slave trade. It traces the political debates which framed policies for the British state's waning but unbroken commitment to slave-trade suppression. If protectionists failed to stop free trade and anti-coercionists failed to withdraw the cruisers, then they did both succeed in reshaping domestic debates to support labour coercion. The book examines details of the work of the navy's West Africa Squadron which have been passed over in earlier narrative accounts. The liberty afforded to the individuals who entered as apprentices into Sierra Leone cannot be clearly distinguished from the bonded labour awaiting them had their enslavers completed the voyage to the Americas. The experiences of sailors and Africans ashore and on ship often stand in contrast to contemporaneous representations of naval suppression. Comparison of the health of African and European sailors serving on the West Africa Station provides insight into the degree to which naval medicine was racialised. The book discusses the anti-slave trade squadron's wider, cultural significance, and its role in the shaping of geographical knowledge of West Africa. It charts the ways in which slave-trade suppression in the Atlantic Ocean was represented in material culture, and the legacy of this commemoration for historical writing and public memory in the subsequent 200 years.
Recent cultural studies have demonstrated the weakness of some of the fashionable theoretical positions adopted by scholars of imperialism in recent times. This book explores the diverse roles played by museums and their curators in moulding and representing the British imperial experience. The British Empire yielded much material for British museums, particularly in terms of ethnographic collections. The collection of essays demonstrates how individuals, their curatorial practices, and intellectual and political agendas influenced the development of a variety of museums across the globe. It suggests that Thomas Baines was deeply engaged with the public presentation, display and interpretation of material culture, and the dissemination of knowledge and information about the places he travelled. He introduced many people to the world beyond Norfolk. A discussion of visitor engagement with non-European material cultures in the provincial museum critiques the assumption of the pervasive nature of curatorial control of audience reception follows. The early 1900s, the New Zealand displays at world's fairs presented a vision of Maoriland, which often had direct Maori input. From its inception, the National Museum of Victoria performed the dual roles of research and public education. The book also discusses the collections at Australian War Memorial, Zanzibar Museum, and Sierra Leone's National Museum. The amateur enthusiasms and colonial museum policy in British West Africa are also highlighted. Finally, the book follows the journey of a single object, Tipu's Tiger, from India back to London.