Offers a rare comparative study of three German colonies and argues for the heterogeneity of German colonial practice and policy. The author seeks to explain these differences in Germany’s precolonial ethnographic discourse and in imperial Germany’s three-way intra-elite class struggle.
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There is, then, an inescapably parallel contest over the historical legitimacy or integrity of anticolonial nationalism. The view thus sketched is, in critics’ eyes, in itself colonialist, according the colonised no will of their own, no meaningful role other than collaboration, no politics other than that structured by the imperial system itself. In a somewhat different, more overtly present-minded and indeed more strident vein, some current writers – the best known, perhaps most extreme case in the Anglophone world would be Niall Ferguson – see those who resist imperial power, past and present, as typically doing so in the name of deeply unattractive, inward- or backward-looking ideologies, and the postcolonial states they created a disaster for most poor countries. The continuation or renewal of some form of imperial governance might be better than independence for many.
1993 also in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial.
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The point, therefore, is: if we think about global art history, postcolonial theory would not be the (only) methodological approach to make it, since the peripheries of the art world are not only postcolonial. The postcolonial scholars who are involved in writing global art history ought to realize that they have to leave their own position, or at least not see it as the privileged and the only point of departure from which to rewrite art history, simply because global art history is broader than a history of former colonies. It has to embrace the other peripheries, as well as the other centers.
How can the answer be improved?
The main concept of post-colonial studies, and at the same time the main problem, is the question of Eurocentrism, or rather its critique. Without such a critique globalizing Eastern Europe will not be possible, since the way to make East European art global goes via Europe, not against it. For post-colonial scholars, instead, Europe is the negative rhetorical figure. Post-colonial scholars used to homogenize culture of the old continent. Frankly speaking they can perform such a simplification, since for their purposes detailed differentiation of inner-European issues, including inner-colonization, does not have much sense. Europe for them is “simply” the Dutch, Belgian, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish colonizer. They do not care so much about Moldavia, Lithuania, Slovenia or Slovakia, and the latter are very often confused to each other; they do not care about Poland which does have its own Eastern colonization history; nor Russia with Western colonization. Italian colonial history is a little bit grotesque, and Scandinavian countries did not have such an experience at all, not to mention Ireland, which was the subject of British colonial imperialism—an imperialism sometimes even more severe than that imposed on India, since it definitely was not the “jewel in the crown.” The quite inverted problem shows Greece, one of the sources of European civilization, which was not the colonizer, rather the colonized country. Indeed, Greece was colonized by the so-called oriental Empire, i.e. Ottomans’ Turkey. In one word: there was not one Europe: it was both the colonizer, and colonized, imperial and occupied, dominating and subordinated. For us, thus, studying European pluralism, a critique of the homogenizing vision of Europe such as the one produced by post-colonial studies, seems to be crucial. Their concept of Eurocentrism turns out to be a little bit problematic—at very least, not so useful for research into European peripheries.