Colonialism and Mimetic Processes: historical and anthropological perspectives

Colonialism and Mimetic Processes: historical and anthropological perspectives

Gemeinsames Projekt gefördert durch den DAAD (Deutschland)
und CRUP (Portugal).

Projektlaufzeit: 2011 – 2012

Ricardo Roque (Institute for Social Research/University of Lisbon)
Patrice Ladwig (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale)

Ricardo Roque; Christiana Bastos; Maria do Carmo (ICS/University of Lisbon)
Oliver Tappe; Patrice Ladwig; Christoph Kohl (MPI Halle/Saale)

This collaborative exchange project of the Institute for Social Research (Lisbon) and the MPI for Social Anthropology Halle/Saale seeks to explore from the perspective of historical anthropology the mimetic dimensions of colonial encounters. By examining the ways people from one culture adopt another's nature and culture – the process of mimesis – we want to analyse both the practical and imaginary aspects of cross-cultural colonial processes. Methodologically and theoretically we want to explore this theme through the critical 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 multifaceted relationships between colonizers and colonized beyond simple ideas of oppression and resistance, and a complex perspective on colonial governmentality, internal colonialism and hegemonic practices and their transformations.

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 relationships;
  3. The methodological and theoretical role of archival sources and other "objects" as historical data for understanding colonialism.

This collaborative project aims to bring these theoretical approaches together and critically test them against empirical and historical material. Regionally, the project follows a comparative approach including three researchers working on Southeast Asia (Laos and East Timor), two colleagues working on Africa (Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde) and one researcher working on Portuguese colonialism in Goa.

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