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Anthropology, European imperialism, and the politics of knowledge

Many questions present themselves when considering the historical relationship between anthropology and empire following the Scramble for Africa. These include the extent of imperial fortunes in Africa, rising and falling with officials' knowledge of the people under their jurisdiction. This book looks at the institutional frameworks of anthropology, and shows that the colonial project to order Africa, intellectually and politically, was a messy and not-so comprehensive endeavor. It first considers the roles of metropolitan researchers and institutes such as the colonial ethnographers active in French West Africa, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in Berlin, and the British-based International Institute of African Languages and Cultures. The book deals with the role of African ethnograpghers for their study on African teaching assistants and schoolmasters-cum-ethnographers, and the study of Jomo Kenyatta's journey to produce Facing Mount Kenya. Swiss missionaries undertook discovery and domestication first on European soil before it was transferred to African soils and societies. Primordial imagination at work in equatorial Africa is discussed through an analysis of Fang ethnographies, and the infertility scares among Mongo in the Belgian Congo is contrasted with the Nzakara in the French Congo. Once colonial rule had been imposed, administrators and imperial managers were often forced to consider those judicial and social rules that had governed Africans' lives and had predated colonialism. Studies of Italian Northeast Africa, the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan and French West Africa reveal the uneven ways in which ethnographic knowledge was pursued and applied in this respect.

Emmanuelle Sibeud

unexpectedly disrupted in the 1910s by what looked like a wild rebellion of amateurs, and particularly of colonial officers who claimed to be ethnographers in their own right. This rebellion had to be answered, and in 1913 Mauss undertook the tricky task of dealing with discontented amateurs, especially with the so-called colonial ethnographers. His essay was a long plea aimed at

in Ordering Africa
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Enigmas of communication
Paul Carter

The ’native informant’ is an essential figure in colonial anthropology. My radio work The Native Informant gives a migrant twist to this ideal translator, showing, in a different context, that she or he is a projection of the host’s narcissism. In a number of high-profile art commissions, I have been cast as ‘native informant’ to the Australian public. My poetic responses restage the enigma of communication where the parties have nothing in common, deriving from the culture of guesswork a migrant poetics. James Dawson, whose 1881 publication Australian Aborigines, is rich evidence of this differential power politics (and perhaps incommensurable expectations) in action, is introduced. As a colonial ethnographer and linguist, Dawson is unusual in laying bare the dialogical dynamics of language-getting. He establishes what every migrant also finds, that improvising rules of communication precedes any intellectual exchange: externalising the desire of communication exposes fundamental presuppositions about the other and the enigma of mutual encounter opens up the possibility of a new poetics able to escape the native informant double-bind.

in Translations, an autoethnography
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Biswamoy Pati

-tribal low castes/outcastes. Prominent among them were the Panas, Bauris, Hadis and Kandaras. Most of the tribals and low castes/ outcastes worked as agricultural labourers (some of whom were bonded, or forced, labourers), and some marginal peasants faced dispossession and loss of ‘customary’ rights over natural resources, like forests. Problems affecting women included the discriminatory structure of wages. Over the last two decades or so significant efforts have been made to study aspects related to caste in colonial India and take it beyond the paradigms of colonial

in South Asia from the margins
Saurabh Mishra

it had to be dragged out of the village limits using a rope. His impurity, and that of his caste members, was seen as a direct consequence of an involvement in leather work. This was accepted even by colonial ethnographers who quoted certain myths referring to the ‘original sin’ of touching a carcass to explain the caste’s low status. 2 These ethnographers also made repeated

in Beastly encounters of the Raj
Unity in diversity at royal celebrations
Susie Protschky

racial difference. It remained a marginal practice in the Netherlands Indies in the late colonial period. 6 Here, the dominant fields of inquiry were in fact cultural anthropology and ethnography ( volkenkunde ), which examine humans as bearers of culture, particularly material culture. 7 Colonial ethnographers too produced photographs that scholars and present-day Indigenous communities now believe differed radically from how Indigenous subjects would have represented

in Photographic subjects
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Derek Robbins

’ [sociological study] and is entirely written by Bourdieu. This Part consists of a foreword,22 followed by interpretative chapters, and then by detailed appendices. The foreword considers the status of the colonial ethnographer by reference to an article by Michel Leiris which appeared in Les temps modernes in 1950. Leiris suggested that ‘colonialethnographers undertaking research within colonies are unavoidably tarnished with responsibility for the social situations which they analyse. Bourdieu thought that this was redolent of a ‘desperate effort to salvage responsibility

in The Bourdieu paradigm
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Graham Harrison

that the African presence is about both Africa and Britain. Campaign organisations have served as key institutional mediators of the Africa presence. It is also worth recognising how diverse the African presence is in Britain. In a sense, Africa has always been with Britain: British political modernity has within it an African ‘sinew’, woven through the work of Africans in Britain, explorers,16 humanitarians, novelists, missionaries, colonials, ethnographers, traders, journalists, aid personnel, celebrities … and of course academic researchers. It is striking that

in The African presence
Nancy Spero’s manifestary practice
Rachel Warriner

the original source.40 Her use of this in Notes in Time on Women with its condensed form and emphasis provided by the interpuncts around the word ‘aztec’ implies that this text comes from an ancient society, erasing the more complex history of the evangelical colonial ethnographer filtered through historians.41 Spero’s seeming lack of concern for the accurate portrayal of sources suggests that she is not attempting a careful recovery of women’s history obscured by patriarchy, as has been claimed.42 Instead, she seeks the text that most fits her message and enables a

in Mixed messages
Saurabh Mishra

Matrix Analysis ’, in Bernard S. Cohn and Milton Singer (eds.), Structure and Change in Indian Society (Chicago: Aldine, 1968 ), p. 135. Ibbetson, the colonial ethnographer, also saw vegetarianism as an ‘artificial’ marker due to its recent inclusion as a high-caste attribute. Quoted in Susan Bayly, Caste, Society and Politics in India: From

in Beastly encounters of the Raj