Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History by Frederick Cooper

By Frederick Cooper

During this heavily built-in number of essays on colonialism in global heritage, Frederick Cooper increases an important questions about ideas correct to a variety of concerns within the social sciences and arts, together with identification, globalization, and modernity. instead of painting the earlier centuries because the inevitable move from empire to countryside, Cooper locations nationalism inside of a wider variety of imperial and diasporic imaginations, of rulers and governed alike, good into the 20th century. He addresses either the insights and the blind spots of colonial stories for you to get past the tendency within the box to target a common colonialism situated someday among 1492 and the Sixties and someplace within the "West." Broad-ranging, cogently argued, and with a historic concentration that strikes from Africa to South Asia to Europe, those essays, so much released right here for the 1st time, suggest a fuller engagement within the give-and-take of background, now not least within the ways that recommendations often attributed to Western universalism—including citizenship and equality—were outlined and reconfigured by way of political mobilizations in colonial contexts.

Reviews:

"This is a truly a lot wanted booklet: on Africa, on highbrow artisanship and on engagement in emancipatory initiatives. Drawing on his huge, immense erudition in colonial heritage, Cooper brings jointly an highbrow and a moral-political argument opposed to a sequence of associated advancements that privilege 'taking a stance' and in prefer of learning procedures of wade through engaged scholarship." - Jane I. Guyer, writer of Marginal Gains"

"Probably an important historian of Africa at present writing within the English language. His highbrow achieve and ambition have even taken effect some distance past African experiences as such, and he has turn into one of many significant voices contributing to debates over empire, colonialism and their aftermaths. This publication is a choice to reinvigorate the serious means during which heritage should be written. Cooper takes on some of the general ideals passing as postcolonial idea and breathes clean air onto them."—Michael Watts, Director of the Institute of overseas experiences, Berkeley

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Sample text

What remained “colonial” in world politics passed itself off as something else. The burst of scholarship on colonial societies in the 1980s and 1990s thus appears paradoxical, and so too does the lack of response and follow-up to Balandier’s brilliantly incisive article in the two decades after its appearance. Colonialism, about which European publics—including left publics— had been ambivalent for decades, was an object of attack in the 1950s and 1960s, but not an object for careful examination.

31 Dipesh Chakrabarty, for example, justly criticizes versions of Indian history, colonialist, nationalist, or Marxist, which measure the colonized by how well they succeeded in class formation and state-building—where Europe supposedly led the way—and attribute their failures to certain lacks on their part (of a proper working class, of a proper bourgeoisie). 32 Then he proceeds to do the opposite. Post-Enlightenment rationality, bourgeois equality, modernity, or liberalism become not provincial ideologies but a grid of knowledge and power, forcing people to give up diverse understandings of community in favor of a one-to-one relationship of the unmarked individual and the nation-state, at best seeking “alternatives” to a modernity that is decidedly singular and decidedly European.

As broad comparative study suggests, all empires, in one way or another, had to articulate difference with incorporation. Difference had to be grounded in institutions and discourses, and that took work. “Modern” empires were in some ways more explicit about codifying difference—and particularly codifying race—than aristocratic empires, for the giving way of status hierarchies to participation in a rights-bearing polity raised the stakes of inclusion and exclusion. Just where lines of exclusion would be drawn—in terms of territory, race, language, gender, or the respectability of personal or collective behavior—was not a given of the “modern state,” but rather the focus of enormous and shifting debate in nineteenth- and twentiethcentury Europe.

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