White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism

By Gail Ching-Liang Low | Go to book overview

TRANSITIONS

The occupation of India was unlike that of Africa because it was enacted on a society and state which had 'recognisable' and 'significant' cultural, political, imperial and military traditions of its own. The reinterpretation of Mughal customs and authority reflected a grafting of alien experience onto the Indian tradition. British trade in India ensured a certain familiarity with the Mughal empire even before her rule over the sub-continent; the development, evolution and domination of India was made easier by the exploitation of previous knowledge of native government. While the nineteenth century saw a gradual cognizance of the Zulu, not simply as a 'Kaffir' race but as a distinct political and social group, Zulu culture and history did not figure prominently in popular or scholarly work until the middle of the nineteenth century. The Anglo-Zulu war changed this; the war resulted in a flood of literature not only detailing the war effort but also also ethnographic and historical accounts of Zululand. 1 Thereafter, the name 'Zulu' entered the popular European imagination and was 'widely identified with an idea of African savagery, bravery and a barbarous nobility' (Guy, 1979: xx). Haggard's novels did much to popularise this romanticised account of the Zulu noble savage for an established readership interested in romance and adventure fiction. His work provides readers at home with a narcissistic and symmetrical fantasmatic reflection of empowered manhood, detailing a clean, taut, heroic and militarised masculinity in an African land 'whereof none know the history'.

In contrast, India was the object of long and sustained British scholarship dating back at least to William Hastings' governorship in the eighteenth century. The East India Company's history of rule has traditonally been divided into an 'Orientalist' and

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White Skins/Black Masks: Representation and Colonialism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Note on Spellings xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I 11
  • 1 - Body/Border Lines 13
  • 2 - The Dominion of Sons 36
  • 3 - Mimesis of Savagery 66
  • Transitions 104
  • Part II 111
  • 4 - The Colonial Uncanny 113
  • 5 - The City of Dreadful Night 156
  • 6 - The Colonial Mirror 191
  • 7 - Loafers and Story-Tellers 238
  • Conclusion 264
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 291
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