ARTH 200 | Assignments | Glossary



Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, p.10-11: ...[W]hat, fundamentally, is colonization? You agree on what it is not: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. To admit once for all, without flinching at the consequences, that the decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful projected shadow of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic economies.

Pursuing my analysis, I find that hypocrisy is of recent date; that neither Cortez discovering Mexico from the top of the great teocalli, nor Pizarro before Cuzco (much less Marco Polo before Cambaluc), claims that he is the harbinger of a superior order; that they kill; that they plunder; that they have helmets, lances, cupidities; that the slavering apologists came later; that the chief culprit in this domain is Christian pedantry, which laid down the dishonest equation Christianity=civilization, paganism=savagery , from which there could not but ensue adominable colonialist and racist consequences, whose victims were to be the Indians, the yellow peoples, and the Negroes.

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much. --Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, as quoted in Brian W. Shaffer, "'Rebarbarizing Civilization': Conrad's African Fiction and Spencerian Sociology," PMLA, 108, 1993, p. 45.

Sartre as quoted in Robert Young, White Mythologies, p. 125: Liberty, equality, fraternity, love, honour, patriotism and what have you. All this did not prevent us from making anti-racial speeches about dirty niggers, dirty Jews, and dirty Arabs. High-minded people, liberal or just soft-hearted, protest that they are shocked by such inconsistency; but they were either mistaken or dishonest, for with us there is nothing more consistent than a racist humanism since the European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters.

Fanon as quoted in Robert Young, White Mythologies , p. 123: Western bourgeois racial prejudice as regards the nigger and the Arab is a racism of contempt; it is a racism which minimises what it hates. Bourgeois ideology, however, which is the proclamation of an essential equality between men, manages to appear logical in its own eyes by inviting the sub-men to become human, and to take as their prototype Western humanity as incarnated in the Western bourgeoisie.

...[C]ontemporary American culture is one of forgetfulness, one that almost takes pride in its lack of interest in other cultures, one that finds the effort truly to imagine and sympathetically to identify with cultural differences not only wholly unnecessary but worthy of scorn and even, in some circles, of vilification. This lack, moreover, echoes internal violences of many sorts, as it does external interventionism. And it is not altogether different in kind from the potential perils of some centralizing cultural policy (even more, of some corresponding authority) within Europe. --Timothy J. Reiss, "Introduction: Literature and the Idea of Europe," PMLA, 108, 1992, 14-15.

Paul Harrison, "The Westernization of the World," in Ourselves among Others: Cross-Cultural Readings for Writers, Carol J. Verburg ed., pp. 600-601: "To the ethnocentric Westerner or the Westernized local, that may seem the most natural thing in the world. That is modern life, they might think. That is the way it will all be one day. That is what development and economic growth are all about.

Yet the dispassionate observer can only be puzzled by this growing world uniformity. Surely one should expect more diversity, more indigenous styles and models of development? Why is almost everyone following virtually the same European road? The Third World's obsession with the Western way of life has perverted development and is rapidly destroying good and bad in traditional cultures, flinging the baby out with the bathwater. It is the most totally pervasive example of what historians call cultural diffusion in the history of mankind.
Its origins, of course, lie in the colonial experience. European rule was something quite different from the general run of conquests. Previous invaders more often than not settled down in their new territories, interbred, and assimilated a good deal of local culture. Not so the Europeans. Some, like the Iberians or the Dutch, were not averse to cohabitation with native women: unlike the British, they seemed free of purely racial prejudice. But all Europeans suffered from the same cultural arrogance. Perhaps it is the peculiar self-righteousness of Pauline Christianity that accounts for this trait. Whatever the cause, never a doubt entered their minds that native cultures could be in any way, materially, morally, or spiritually, superior to their own, and that the supposedly benighted inhabitants of the darker continents needed enlightening.

And so there grew up, alongside political and economic imperialism, that more insidious form of control --cultural imperialism. It conquered not just the bodies, but the souls of its victims, turning them into willing accomplices.

Compare these texts to the sixteenth century image of Amerigo Vespucci discovering America.

ARTH 200 | Assignments | Glossary