Ms. Merry
Spring 2003


This course explores the nature of colonialism and the world it has made. Colonialism forged how Europeans thought about race and the "Other." In the process, Europeans came to think about themselves in terms of new identities and, at the same time, colonized peoples redefined their own identities. Not only were images of race and difference constructed through these interactions, it also shaped emerging understandings of gender and sexuality. The course analyzes the origins of modern racism and the contemporary global distribution of power, both cultural and political, in colonial and postcolonial societies. It explores how sexuality shaped this encounter and contributed to forging conceptions of race and difference as well as constituting contemporary understandings of gender. Although the course focuses largely on European and American colonialism, there are parallel processes in Asia, particularly with the Japanese colonization of Korea.

The course examines moments of encounter between culturally distinct social groups during the early part of the colonial process. Most of these encounters took place between the expanding capitalist societies of Europe and the United States and the tribal, peasant, and state societies of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Each group developed interpretations of the other in light of the disparities of power between them. We will discuss theories developed to account for these encounters and the changes they wrought ranging from acculturation theory to dependency theory to postcolonial theory. The course considers colonizing processes such as wage labor and capitalist transformation, mission evangelism, rule of law systems, and formal schooling. It examines conceptions of self, work, and time encoded in these processes. At the end of the course we will consider whether tourism and development are neo-colonial processes and whether there are similarities between contemporary globalization and nineteenth-century colonialism.

The course takes an anthropological approach, examining local situations of encounter and transformation. It is fundamentally comparative, contrasting different national colonialisms and particular situations of conquest and accommodation in Latin America, Africa and the Pacific. At the same time, the course views imperialism, nationalism and development as transnational processes. An underlying theoretical concern is the analysis of processes of economic, political, and cultural domination inherent in colonialism and the forms of resistance that they have engendered.

All students are expected to finish the assigned readings for each class. Each student is expected to come to class prepared to discuss one or more major issues in the readings. These discussions will focus on the major argument of the author, the positions he or she is arguing against, and the theoretical frameworks within which she is working. There is a course conference, and each student is expected to post a one-page statement about what she sees as the major point in the reading and a question that she wishes to discuss. Postings should be done by Wednesday at midnight the day before the class. Regular participation in the course conference is a requirement of the course. There will also be a mid-term paper based on the course readings and a final 20- page paper which develops a theme in the course based on a combination of course readings and outside research. Students are expected to present this paper to the class. Participation in class and in conference postings is 20% of the course grade, the mid-term paper 30%, and the final paper, 50%.

Required Books:

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
Mary Louise Pratt. 1992. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation.
John L. and Jean Comaroff. 1997. Of Revelation and Revolution: The Dialectics of Modernity on a South African Frontier. Vol. II. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
Frederick Cooper and Ann Stoler, eds. 1997. Tensions of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Sally Engle Merry. 2000. Colonizing Hawai'i: The Cultural Power of Law. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Franz Fanon, 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.

Recommended Books (also on reserve and readings on e-reserve):

Eric Wolf, 1982. Europe and the People without History, second edition, 1992.
Marshall Sahlins. 1985. Islands of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gananath Obeyesekere. 1992. The Apotheosis of Captain Cook. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press.
Edward Said. Orientalism, 1978.

I. Introduction: Perspectives of the Colonizer and of the Colonized

Jan.30: Introduction to the World System and Colonialism
Film: "First Contact"
Discuss "White Man's Burden" by Rudyard Kipling

Feb. 6: Perspectives on Colonialism: Situating the Observer
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.

II. First Encounters and Representations of these Encounters

Feb. 13: Travel Writers in Latin America and Africa
Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes, Introduction and Parts I and II.
Come prepared to discuss any travel writing you have read from the pre-colonial or colonial period or travel writing in the present.
Film clip from "Cannibal Tours"

Feb.20: Orientalism and Exhibitions: The Power in Representation
Said, Edward. Orientalism, 1978. pp. 1-49.
Bhabha, Homi. 1997. "Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse." Pp. 152-163 in Tensions of Empire.
Mitchell, Timothy. "Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order." in Culture and Colonialism, pp. 289-319.
Film clip from "Alladin"

Feb. 27: Captain Cook in Hawai'i: Unraveling Moments of Encounter
Marshall Sahlins, Islands of History, 1985. Chapters 1, 4, and 5.
Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook. 1992. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. Chapters 1, 3, 5.
Paper due: 5 pages. Compare Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart for the depictions they offer of colonialism. How can you explain the differences? What role does the position of the author and his purpose and audience play in the way he tells the story? You can select one or two themes for comparison rather than discussing each entire book.

March 6: American Colonialism in Hawai‘i. Film: "Act of War"
Merry, Sally. 2000. Colonizing Hawai’i. Chapters 1 - 4.

March 13: The Political Economy of Colonialism
Eric Wolf, Europe and the People Without History. Introduction (Chapter 1), Modes of Production (Chapter 3), The Slave Trade (Chapter 7), and Industrial Revolution (Chapter 9).
Frederick Cooper. "The Dialectics of Decolonization: Nationalism and Labor Movements in Postwar French Africa." Pp. 406-435. in Tensions of Empire.
Michael Taussig. "Culture of Terror - Space of Death: Roger Casement's Putumayo Report and the Explanation of Torture." in Culture and Colonialism pp. 135-175.
Luise White. "Cars out of Place: Vampires, Technology, and Labor in East and Central Africa." pp. 436-461 in Tensions of Empire.
Two-page prospectus for final paper due.

March 27: The Violence of Colonialism: Does Decolonization Require Violence?
Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1963, "Concerning Violence" and "Conclusion."
Homi Bhabha. "Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse." in Tensions of Empire, pp. 152-163.
Stoler, Ann Laura. 1997. "Sexual Affronts and Racial Frontiers: European Identities and the Cultural Politics of Exclusion in Colonial Southeast Asia." Pp. 198-237 in Tensions of Empire.

April 3 - 10: Race and Religion in the Colonization of South Africa
Comaroff, John L. and Jean. 1997. Of Revelation and Revolution: The Dialectics of Modernity on a South African Frontier. Vol. II. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
April 3: Chapters 2, 3, and 4.
April 10: Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Film: "Trobriand Cricket"

April 17: Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Project
Cooper and Stoler, Tensions of Empire. 1997. Chapters 2, 6, 7, 8, 11.
McClintock, Anne. 1995. "The Lay of the Land: Genealogies of Imperialism." Pp. 21-74 in Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Project. Routledge.

April 24: Law, Gender, and Colonialism (class will be rescheduled)
Sally Merry. 2000. Colonizing Hawai'i: The Cultural Power of Law. Chapters 5 - 9. .

May 1: Student Presentations