Colonial crisis and mimetic encounters in historical and anthropological perspective

Colonial crisis and mimetic encounters in historical and anthropological perspective

This project seeks to explore from the perspective of historical anthropology the varied indigenous and colonial experiences of, and strategies for dealing with, crises resulting from colonial encounters. Colonial crisis will be approached not simply as a negative and destructive notion, but also as a cross-cultural juncture for the reconfiguration of social relationships. We also intend to especially focus on the mimetic dimension of colonial encounters and strategies, and to consider both the practical and imaginary aspects of mimesis as cross-cultural processes. Methodologically and theoretically we want to explore this theme through the application of a new set of theories deriving from postcolonial studies and studies of material culture. Thereby we aim at achieving a more thorough understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationships between colonizers and colonized beyond simple ideas of oppression, resistance and the destruction of indigenous cultures. The following research questions will guide our rethinking of internal and imperial colonialism as a historical and anthropological phenomenon: How, and why, are certain colonial encounters and events experienced and represented as 'crisis', for example in archives? Which specific processes are triggered by these experiences and representations, and how does this reconfigure the social, cultural, and political forms mediating between colonizers and colonized? Can processes of crisis be understood as productive moments of the reinvention of the social, rather than mere negative aspects of colonialism? What strategies are used to deal with colonial crisis, within both the colonizing and indigenous communities; and, specifically, what are the mimetic strategies for dealing with crises in the course of colonial encounters?

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
Yes
Entidades: 
Fundação das Universidades Portuguesas
Conselho de Reitores das Universidades Portuguesas (CRUP)
Rede: 
Two-year joint project with the MPI-Social Anthropology (Germany) under the Acções Integradas Luso-Alemãs Program
Keywords: 

Colonial mimesis,

Crisis,

Theory of archives,

Materiality

This project seeks to explore from the perspective of historical anthropology the varied indigenous and colonial experiences of, and strategies for dealing with, crises resulting from colonial encounters. Colonial crisis will be approached not simply as a negative and destructive notion, but also as a cross-cultural juncture for the reconfiguration of social relationships. We also intend to especially focus on the mimetic dimension of colonial encounters and strategies, and to consider both the practical and imaginary aspects of mimesis as cross-cultural processes. Methodologically and theoretically we want to explore this theme through the application of a new set of theories deriving from postcolonial studies and studies of material culture. Thereby we aim at achieving a more thorough understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationships between colonizers and colonized beyond simple ideas of oppression, resistance and the destruction of indigenous cultures. The following research questions will guide our rethinking of internal and imperial colonialism as a historical and anthropological phenomenon: How, and why, are certain colonial encounters and events experienced and represented as 'crisis', for example in archives? Which specific processes are triggered by these experiences and representations, and how does this reconfigure the social, cultural, and political forms mediating between colonizers and colonized? Can processes of crisis be understood as productive moments of the reinvention of the social, rather than mere negative aspects of colonialism? What strategies are used to deal with colonial crisis, within both the colonizing and indigenous communities; and, specifically, what are the mimetic strategies for dealing with crises in the course of colonial encounters?

Objectivos: 
<p>We will concentrate on three interlinked thematic and theoretical topics: 1. Colonialism as an unstable and heterogeneous cross-cultural event that is marked by crisis and instability; 2. The role of mimetic practices in the colonial encounter as forms of mediating crisis-ridden relationships; 3. The methodological and theoretical role of archival sources and other ‘objects' as historical data for documenting colonial crisis and mimetic encounters. This collaborative project aims at bringing these theoretical approaches together and to critically test them against empirical and historical material. Regionally, the project will follow a comparative approach including four researchers working on Asia (Laos, Thailand, Goa and East Timor) and two colleagues working on Africa (Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde). </p><p>Therefore the project will on a general level contribute to the understanding of colonial processes from the perspectives of both colonizers and colonized in before little studied areas. Theoretically the project will critically engage with current conceptualizing of ‘crisis' and ‘mimesis' in colonial history and anthropology of colonialism. In addition, in the context of an innovative reassessment of these two concepts, it will be methodologically concerned with comparative applications of theories of the archive and material objects as historical sources. </p>
Parceria: 
International networ
Patrice Ladwig
Oliver Tappe
Christoph Kohl
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/03/2010
End Date: 
01/02/2013
Duração: 
35 meses
Closed