Re: Colonialism as the big bang

Matthew S. Tomaso (tomaso@UTXVMS.CC.UTEXAS.EDU)
Tue, 7 Feb 1995 22:41:17 -0600

At 07:45 PM 2/7/95,Abdul Kanm Mustapha wrote:

>hello Matt,
> your iniative is a very good one. however, the type of
>colonialism that social theorists are dealing with is a specifically modern
>colonialism that is bound by violence and the globalization of capital.

I understand this. But the point is that I think it an example of ideology
that these same theorists wish to make this particular brand of colonialism,
the biggest, the worst, and <in effect> the only. I think that colonialism,
itself, must remain undertheorized if not dealt with in a comparitive snese.

>this is not to say that violence was not intrinsic to earlier versions of
>colonialism, rather, imperialism and consequent effects are constitutive
>elements of modern colonialism.

And yet we've only scraped the surface of examining the 'consequent effects'
- how can we arbitrarily assume that these effects don't apply to earlier
forms? Also, I have no clue as to what you mean by imperialism here. If
you mean that the concept of imperialism does not apply to Rome, for
instance, I think we need to talk.

>as well, the critiques of colonialism
>like edward said's magisterial Orientalism, or Amire Caseaire's Discourse
>of Colonialism, deal with the transport of colonial discourse, writing.
>thus to truely evalute contemporary social theories of colonialism, one
>must look not only at literary production, but the persistent of what we
>can call the economy of coloniaist language. a type of language that
>operates of binary oppositions and residual categories of the other.

Absolutely true. I am in the process of doing that which perhaps explains
my ignorance. However, I also have serious suspicions about the ideological
basis of this obsession with printed matter. Doesn't it strike you as a new
kind of Spencerian evolution? I don't mean to be too harsh here because I
really do enjoy the treatments of colonialism that I am reading. However, I
am hoping to add to the tools and concepts I can employ in archaeology, not
reduce them.
>you disagree, it may be because archaeologists are guilty of sustaining
>the colonialist language.

Is this an accusation? Talk about hegemonic discourses....

>best, abdul.


Matt Tomaso
Department of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin