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Introduction: Engaging Colonial Knowledge

  • Ricardo Roque
  • Kim A. Wagner
Part of the Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series book series (CIPCSS)

Abstract

In the long history of European overseas expansion, an immense and diverse collection of texts, images, drawings, and maps has been produced and accumulated, part of which survives today in archives and libraries around the world. As a legacy of colonization and empirebuilding, the ‘knowledge’ embodied in this diverse material has been identified with projects of imperialist or colonialist domination, and as such simply labelled as ‘colonial’. This designation, however, hides considerable complexity. As we enter these archives, we enter a heterogeneous documental world, spanning distinct languages, literary and artistic genres or conventions, historical moments, geographical settings, varied human purposes and agendas. Along the way a proliferation of subjects, objects, categories, stories, events, personal and collective dramas, either experienced or imagined, is brought into being. This is not a neat and orderly world infused with transparent and unambiguous meaning. It constitutes a tensional, discontinuous, and uncertain formation of documents, categories, stories, and images. In their very dispersion and unevenness, these may be seen, as Michel Foucault observed, as productive political ‘fields of force’ that selectively make

Keywords

Reading Strategy Colonial Discourse Colonial Officer Postcolonial Study Imperial History 
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Notes

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© Ricardo Roque and Kim A. Wagner 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Roque
  • Kim A. Wagner

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