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Writing Past Colonialism

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Writing Past Colonialism

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Dark Writing

Geography, Performance, Design

Paul Carter

We do not see empty figures and outlines; we do not move in straight lines. Everywhere we are surrounded by dapple; the geometry of our embodied lives is curviform, meandering, bi-pedal. Our personal worlds are timed, inter-positional, and contingent. But nowhere in the language of cartography and design do these ordinary experiences appear. This, Dark Writing argues, is a serious omission because they are designs on the world: architects and colonizers use their lines to construct the places where we will live. But the rectilinear streets, squares, and public spaces produced in this way leave out people and the entire environmental history of their coming together. How, this book asks, can we explain the omission of bodies from maps and plans? And how can we redraw the lines maps and plans use so that the qualitative world of shadows, footprints, comings and goings, and occasions—all essential qualities of places that incubate sociality—can be registered? In short, Dark Writing asks why we represent the world as static when our experience of it is mobile. It traces this bias in Enlightenment cartography, in inductive logic, and in contemporary place design. This is the negative critique. Its positive argument is that, when we look closely at these designs on the world, we find traces of a repressed movement form. Even the ideal lines of geometrical figures turn out to contain traces of earlier passages; and there are many forms of graphic design that do engage with the dark environment that surrounds the light of reason. How can this "dark writing"—so important to reconfiguring our world as a place of meeting, of co-existence and sustaining diversity—be represented? And how, therefore, can our representations of the world embody more sensuously the mobile histories that have produced it? Dark Writing answers these questions using case studies: the exemplary case of the beginnings of the now world-famous Papunya Tula Painting Movement (Central Australia) and three high-profile public place-making initiatives in which the author was involved as artist and thinker. These case studies are nested inside historical chapters and philosophical discussions of the line and linear thinking that make Dark Writing both a highly personal book and a narrative with wide general appeal.

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Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes

A Penal History of Singapore's Plural Society

Anoma Pieris

During the nineteenth century, the colonial Straits Settlements of Singapore, Penang, and Melaka were established as free ports of British trade in Southeast Asia and proved attractive to large numbers of regional migrants. Following the abolishment of slavery in 1833, the Straits government transported convicts from the East India Company’s Indian presidencies to the settlements as a source of inexpensive labor. The prison became the primary experimental site for the colonial plural society and convicts were graduated by race and the labor needed for urban construction. Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes investigates how a political system aimed at managing ethnic communities in the larger material context of the colonial urban project was first imagined and tested through the physical segregation of the colonial prison. It relates the story of a city, Singapore, and a contemporary city-state whose plural society has its origins in these historical divisions. A description of the evolution of the ideal plan for a plural city across the three settlements is followed by a detailed look at Singapore’s colonial prison. Chapters trace the prison’s development and its dissolution across the urban landscape through the penal labor system. The author demonstrates the way in which racial politics were inscribed spatially in the division of penal facilities and how the map of the city was reconfigured through convict labor. Later chapters describe penal resistance first through intimate stories of penal life and then through a discussion of organized resistance in festival riots. Eventually, the plural city ideal collapsed into the hegemonic urban form of the citadel, where a quite different military vision of the city became evident. Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes is a fascinating and thoroughly original study in urban history and the making of multiethnic society in Singapore. It will compel readers to rethink the ways in which colonial urban history, postcolonial urbanism, and governance have been theorized by scholars and represented by governments.

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Imperial Archipelago

Representation and Rule in the Insular Territories under U.S. Dominion after 1898

Lanny Thompson

Imperial Archipelago is a comparative study of the symbolic representations, both textual and photographic, of Cuba, Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico that appeared in popular and official publications in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War of 1898. It examines the connections between these representations and the forms of rule established by the U.S. in each at the turn of the century—thus answering the question why different governments were set up in the five sites.

Lanny Thompson critically engages and elaborates on the postcolonial thesis that symbolic representations are a means to conceive, mobilize, and justify colonial rule. Colonial discourses construe cultural differences among colonial subjects with the intent to rule them differently; in other words, representations are neither mere reflections of material interests nor inconsequential fantasies, rather they are fundamental to colonial practice. To demonstrate this, Thompson analyzes, on the one hand, the differences among the representations of the islands in popular, illustrated books about the "new possessions" and the official reports produced by U.S. colonial administrators. On the other, he explicates the connections between these distinct representations and the governments actually established. A clear, comparative analysis is provided of the legal arguments that took place in the leading law journals of the day, the Congressional debates, the laws that established governments, and the decisions of the Supreme Court that validated these laws.

Interweaving postcolonial studies, sociology, U.S. history, cultural studies, and critical legal theory, Imperial Archipelago offers a fresh, transdisciplinary perspective that will be welcomed especially by scholars and students of U.S. imperialism and its efforts to "extend democracy" overseas, both past and present.

54 illus.

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Mediating Across Difference

Oceanic and Asian Approaches to Conflict Resolution

Edited by Morgan Brigg and Roland Bleiker

Mediating Across Difference is based on a fundamental premise: to deal adequately with conflict—and particularly with conflict stemming from cultural and other differences—requires genuine openness to different cultural practices and dialogue between different ways of knowing and being. Equally essential is a shift away from understanding cultural difference as an inevitable source of conflict, and the development of a more critical attitude toward previously under-examined Western assumptions about conflict and its resolution.

To address the ensuing challenges, this book introduces and explores some of the rich insights into conflict resolution emanating from Asia and Oceania. Although often overlooked, these local traditions offer a range of useful ways of thinking about and dealing with difference and conflict in a globalizing world. To bring these traditions into exchange with mainstream Western conflict resolution, the editors present the results of collaborative work between experienced scholars and culturally knowledgeable practitioners from numerous parts of Asia and Oceania. The result is a series of interventions that challenge conventional Western notions of conflict resolution and provide academics, policy makers, diplomats, mediators, and local conflict workers with new possibilities to approach, prevent, and resolve conflict.

2 illus.

Contributors: Roland Bleiker; Volker Boege; Morgan Brigg; Stephen Chan; Frans de Jalong, Sr.; Lorraine Garasu; Mary Graham; Hoang Young-ju; Carwyn Jones; Joy Kere; Debra McDougall; Norifumi Namatame; Chengxin Pan; Oliver Richmond; Deborah Bird Rose; Muhadi Sugiono; Tarja Väyrynen; Polly O. Walker; Jacqueline Wasilewski.

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Out of Bounds

Anglo-Indian Literature and the Geography of Displacement

Alan Johnson

Out of Bounds focuses on the crucial role that conceptions of iconic colonial Indian spaces—jungles, cantonments, cities, hill stations, bazaars, clubs—played in the literary and social production of British India. Author Alan Johnson illuminates the geographical, rhetorical, and ideological underpinnings of such depictions and, from this, argues that these spaces operated as powerful motifs in the acculturation of Anglo-India. He shows that the bicultural, intrinsically ambivalent outlook of Anglo-Indian writers is acutely sensitive to spatial motifs that, insofar as these condition the idea of home and homelessness, alternately support and subvert conventional colonial perspectives.

Colonial spatial motifs not only informed European representations of India, but also shaped important aesthetic notions of the period, such as the sublime. This book also explains how and why Europeans’ rhetorical and visual depictions of the Indian subcontinent, whether ostensibly administrative, scientific, or aesthetic, constituted a primary means of memorializing Empire, creating an idiom that postcolonial India continues to use in certain ways. Consequently, Johnson examines specific motifs of Anglo-Indian cultural remembrance, such as the hunting memoir, hill station life, and the Mutiny, all of which facilitated the mythic iconography of the Raj. He bases his work on the premise that spatiality (the physical as well as social conceptualization of space) is a vital component of the mythos of colonial life and that the study of spatiality is too often a subset of a focus on temporality.

Johnson reads canonical and lesser-known fiction, memoirs, and travelogues alongside colonial archival documents to identify shared spatial motifs and idioms that were common to the period. Although he discusses colonial works, he focuses primarily on the writings of Anglo-Indians such as Rudyard Kipling, John Masters, Jim Corbett, and Flora Annie Steel to demonstrate how conventions of spatial identity were rhetorically maintained—and continually compromised. All of these considerations amplify this book’s focus on the porosity of boundaries in literatures of the colony and of the nation.Out of Bounds will be of interest to not only postcolonial literary scholars, but also scholars and students in interdisciplinary nineteenth-century studies, South Asian cultural history, cultural anthropology, women’s studies, and sociology.

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Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Development

Other Paths for Papua New Guinea

Paul James, Yaso Nadarajah, Karen Haive, and Victoria Stead

Papua New Guinea is going through a crisis: A concentration on conventional approaches to development, including an unsustainable reliance on mining, forestry, and foreign aid, has contributed to the country’s slow decline since independence in 1975. Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Development attempts to address problems and gaps in the literature on development and develop a new qualitative conception of community sustainability informed by substantial and innovative research in Papua New Guinea. In this context, sustainability is conceived in terms that include not just practices tied to economic development. It also informs questions of wellbeing and social integration, community-building, social support, and infrastructure renewal. In short, the concern with sustainability here entails undertaking an analysis of how communities are sustained through time, how they cohere and change, rather than being constrained within discourses and models of development. From another angle, this project presents an account of community sustainability detached from instrumental concerns with economic development.

Contributors address questions such as: What are the stories and histories through which people respond to their nation’s development? What is the everyday social environment of groups living in highly diverse areas (migrant settlements, urban villages, remote communities)? They seek to contribute to a creative and dynamic grass-roots response to the demands of everyday life and local-global pressures. While the overdeveloped world faces an intersecting crisis created by global climate change and financial instability, Papua New Guinea, with all its difficulties, still has the basis for responding to this manifold predicament. Its secret lies in what has been seen as its weakness: underdeveloped economies and communities, where people still maintain sustainable relations to each other and the natural world.

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