Civilizational Politics and Colonialisms
Colonialism is commonly understood as the rule and exploitation by the west of the rest based on its presumed civilizational superiority. This project assumes that colonial practices must not be reduced to this, but must be conceived to vary with the conceptions of civilization on which they draw. It seeks to demonstrate this by comparing colonial practices in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which differ in their particular conceptions of civilization and the corresponding modes and motives of hierarchical governance.Following a conception of civilization as developmental process, the League of Nations’ Mandate System sought to internationalize and limit foreign rule and exploitation in attributing to the “civilized” a duty to assist “backward peoples” on their way into civilized modernity. Usually, this is described as the west ruling the rest. However, also the “civilized” became subjected to hierarchical governance in the name of civilization, which in turn affected colonial practice by making it increasingly inacceptable to claim other peoples and territories and to rule and exploit them. In order to understand colonial practices, their difference, and legacy, it is necessary to account for their configuration instead of reducing them to one mode that, supposedly, fits all.
RUG investigator involved: Dr. Friederike Kuntz
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