Engaging Colonial Knowledge

Engaging Colonial Knowledge

The project Engaging Colonial Knowledge explores the significance of colonialism and its archives and forms of knowledge to the historical reconstruction of the colonial experience. The issues examined include the use of textual and visual material in the study of indigenous cultures; the effective role of knowledge in the exercise of government and the constitution of authority; the significance of indigenous agency in colonial systems of knowledge; the formation of otherness and cultural difference; and the social relations and processes that explain the creation and circulation of colonial knowledge. The notion of colonial knowledge is approached as a historical and cultural artefact, which emerged through practical activities. As such, Engaging Colonial Knowledge intends to offer a new approach to colonial knowledge by treating the sources themselves as historical and cultural products that, through careful examination, can offer important insights into colonial history and indigenous cultures in the past. This project originated in the workshop ‘Beyond Deconstruction - Engaging Colonial Knowledge', held at King's College, Cambridge, in September 2006, organized by Ricardo Roque and Kim Wagner, and supported by the King's College Research Centre, University of Cambridge, and the George Trevelyan Fund, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. At ICS-UL, this project has been growing into a network of collaborations with scholars in the UK and USA, which is to result in a book.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Keywords: 

Colonial Knowledge, Colonial Archives, World History, Historical Anthropology

The project Engaging Colonial Knowledge explores the significance of colonialism and its archives and forms of knowledge to the historical reconstruction of the colonial experience. The issues examined include the use of textual and visual material in the study of indigenous cultures; the effective role of knowledge in the exercise of government and the constitution of authority; the significance of indigenous agency in colonial systems of knowledge; the formation of otherness and cultural difference; and the social relations and processes that explain the creation and circulation of colonial knowledge. The notion of colonial knowledge is approached as a historical and cultural artefact, which emerged through practical activities. As such, Engaging Colonial Knowledge intends to offer a new approach to colonial knowledge by treating the sources themselves as historical and cultural products that, through careful examination, can offer important insights into colonial history and indigenous cultures in the past. This project originated in the workshop ‘Beyond Deconstruction - Engaging Colonial Knowledge', held at King's College, Cambridge, in September 2006, organized by Ricardo Roque and Kim Wagner, and supported by the King's College Research Centre, University of Cambridge, and the George Trevelyan Fund, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. At ICS-UL, this project has been growing into a network of collaborations with scholars in the UK and USA, which is to result in a book.

Objectivos: 
The main goal of this project is to produce an edited volume that will bring together historians and anthropologists, presenting recent research on the theoretical and methodological issues related to the use of empirical material, in the wider context of the Western imperial expansion in world history. This volume includes a selection of the papers presented at the workshop and a selection of essays which considerably expands its original scope and ambition. The volume thus addresses issues of colonial knowledge from both historical and anthropological perspectives in a variety of periods and settings, covering African, Asian, and American topics and the history of the British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish empires, from the 1500s to the twentieth-century. The volume, provisionally entitled Engaging Colonial Knowledge: Imperial Archives in World History, is currently under contract with Palgrave Macmillan, out on the Cambridge Imperial and Postcolonial Series.
State of the art: 
In the long history of overseas expansion, an immense and diverse collection of Western texts, images, drawings and maps relating to various parts of the world, has been produced - part of which survives today in archives and libraries around the world. Colonial representations of foreign peoples, their cultures and practices, make a claim to knowledge, the claim that a reality was being apprehended and described, either scientifically or simply as the outcome of lived experience. These representations have for long been taken at face value as veracious and balanced accounts of distant and exotic places. Within the last three decades of the twentieth century, however, colonial knowledge has increasingly been criticised as expressive of a biased Eurocentric understanding of the Asian, African, or American indigenous worlds. This line of approach, advanced in works such as Edward Said's Orientalism, has stressed the necessity of approaching those texts more critically with regards to the context in which they emerged. Colonial knowledge was inextricably embedded in the projects of colonial power, or trapped within Western constructs, which inevitably represented non-Western peoples and cultures as backwards. More recently, and due in part to the growing influence of literary theory in connection with historical investigation, some scholars have argued that colonial knowledge presents no more than an inverse mirror-image of Western cultural values. If earlier readings tended to approach the colonial archives as undistorted depictions of other places and cultures, recent criticism has reduced them to a matter of textual constructions and misrepresentations. <p>Yet, in many instances, Western representations are the only tools available with which to approach the history of non-Western cultures. Do colonial accounts of noble and ignoble savages, assassins, cannibals, thugs, headhunters, pirates, scheming eunuchs and debauched sultans have no further interest beyond confirming our preconceived notions of the biased nature of Western ideologies? What use, then, can we make of this repertoire that is neither limited to a simplistic positivism nor to the rejection of its value as historical evidence? How, in short, can we engage with colonial knowledge? </p><p>The project and the volume Engaging Colonial Knowledge: Imperial Archives in World History will explore these important questions.</p>
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
Coordenador Geral 
Kim Wagner
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/06/2009
End Date: 
01/12/2010
Duração: 
18 meses
Closed