CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Empire and Rebellion: postcolonial perspectives

full name / name of organization: 
Shaswati Mazumdar
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It has been argued that the process of establishing colonial control and
rule across most of Asia, Africa and Latin America was supported
ideologically by the belief in the civilizational superiority of the
colonizers over the colonized. Within this general framework,
representations of colonized peoples and the forms of knowledge produced
about them tended to project them as distant both in terms of geographical
space and historical time. They were seen as people without history,
without the ability therefore to act of their own volition; they required,
even beseeched domination. Such ideas not only obscured the harsh realities
of colonial rule but also served to subdue criticism of colonial as well as
other policies at home. As is well known now, establishing and maintaining
colonial empires was no peaceful venture, as the colonizers were confronted
almost everywhere with some forms of resistance that kept escalating into
armed rebellions.

Over the past few decades, the ideas and notions or the cultural
wherewithal that accompanied colonial conquest have been studied
extensively. Attention has also been focused on the cultural forms in which
anti-colonial resistance was articulated. The focus for this conference
will be more specifically on responses to rebellions, to large-scale, more
or less organized and violent acts by the colonized to overthrow colonial
rule. How are rebellions represented? What kinds of questions do they raise
about colonial rule and colonial policies? In what way does the experience
of military suppression of rebellions feed into the strategies developed
for future wars, in Europe and elsewhere? How are these rebellions seen in
post-colonial times?

The conference is a follow-up to a conference held in October 2007 on
European Responses to the 1857 Rebellion in India. Though it is well known
that this rebellion generated an enormous amount of literature in Britain,
little note has been taken so far of the responses in the rest of Europe,
which took the form of extensive reporting in the newspapers as well as of
many fictional and non-fictional texts. The varied responses show the keen
interest across several European nations (irrespective of whether they were
colonial powers, still to acquire colonies, or belonged to the category of
‘small nations’) evoked by such a major threat to British colonial power.
The gap between the considerable body of material and the lack of any study
of the area is also a motive for the present conference. Of course, the
contemporary world provides enough evidence that questions of colonialism,
imperialism and rebellions aiming to overthrow these modes of domination
are not just matters of the past.

The conference will bring together interdisciplinary and comparative
perspectives to explore responses to anti-colonial rebellions in fictional
and non-fictional texts as well as in film and other art forms.

[Deadline for submission of abstracts (200-300 words): 30 January 2008]

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Received on Sun Dec 30 2007 - 11:02:29 EST