New project to explore the influence of colonial concepts – University of Copenhagen

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27 October 2015

New project to explore the influence of colonial concepts

Martin Müller

The Danish Council for Independent Research – Humanities (FKK) has granted 1.7 million DKK to Martin Müller and his postdoc project Territoriality, Governmentality & Colonial Rule: A Global History of the War on Non-Sedentary Peoples and Itinerant Cultures during the Long 19th Century. The project will be hosted by the Saxo Institute.

The concept of territoriality and its ubiquitous praxis of demarcation
The project examines the importance of the concept of territoriality throughout the long 19th century. This period was characterised by the growth and solidification of national, imperial, and colonial state formations; these were defined by their well-demarcated spatial extension (territoriality) and an intended all-encompassing mode of governance (governmentality).

Martin Müller contends that the perceptions and conceptualizations of the so-called nomads and hunter-gatherers throughout this period can provide a thematic prism that accentuates some central – albeit often ignored – aspects of territoriality emphasizing the connections between geographical location, political affiliation, and cultural grounding.

Marginalizing conceptualizations and violent practices
One of the most enduring themes in popular presentations of 19th century history deals with how the prairie Indians gradually, but inevitably, were banished from their hunting grounds and condemned to wither within the confines of well-demarcated reservations.

This notorious narrative, however, was not restricted to the sphere of North America. On the contrary, it appeared to form part of a much larger and pervasive historical dynamic, marginalizing the cultures on the move, and which sought to annihilate their roaming life-style, if not necessarily the peoples themselves.

Investigation dynamics of globalization, colonization, and nationalization
Hence, instead of only viewing this dynamic within its narrower national or regional frameworks and assessing it in terms of local causes and effects, as usually done, this project perceives it as a global phenomenon. That is, as resulting from the ubiquitous dynamics of globalization, colonization, and nationalization that swept across the world during the 19th century.

This resulted in events that were not only comparable but also connected through an array of networks facilitating the production, transfer, and reception of shared ideas and common practices on these matters.

Apart from a sustained theoretical focus on the global circulation and connectivity of these ideas and practices, the project will contain case studies addressing a set of different geographical, cultural, and political settings. These include;

  • North America,
  • Latin America,
  • parts of Africa, South Asia,
  • Southeast Asia, and
  • Central Asia.