Imagined Olympians: Body Culture and Colonial Representation in Rwanda

Imagined Olympians: Body Culture and Colonial Representation in Rwanda

Imagined Olympians: Body Culture and Colonial Representation in Rwanda

Imagined Olympians: Body Culture and Colonial Representation in Rwanda

Excerpt

This book essays two problems. One takes up most of the book—about 95 percent—and is about representation, or the problem of how colonial image makers represented an African physicality. The remaining 5 percent is concerned with the question of complicity. In 1995, I submitted for publication a short paper on the subject of this book. One of the readers appointed by the journal’s editor suggested that, in a paper about the European representation of Rwandan physicality, I should consider mentioning the 1994 Rwandan genocide. At the time I was not sure how European representations of an extinct athletic practice could, in the slightest way, have any relevance to the horrendous events of the mid1990s, and I rejected the suggestion. Now I think (though I am not certain) that the reader had a point. So in the spirit of an early definition of the essay, I will try, at the end of the book and in a preliminary way, to make the connection.

My main concern, that of representation, has taken me into the murky waters—or, perhaps, maelstrom—of interdisciplinarity. Having said that, it would not have been possible to write this book from a single disciplinary perspective. In the spirit of the essayist, and taking my interpretation of the essay from Yi-Fu Tuan in Dominance and Affection, I have ventured forth and made some “trials or experiments” in as responsible a way as I can.

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