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Civilization, Culture, and Race in John Crawfurd’s Discourses on Southeast Asia: Continuities and Changes, c.1814-1868

Dates:
  • Fri 07 Jun 2013 15.00 - 17.00
  Add to Calendar 2013-06-07 15:00 2013-06-07 17:00 Europe/Paris Civilization, Culture, and Race in John Crawfurd’s Discourses on Southeast Asia: Continuities and Changes, c.1814-1868

In this dissertation I examine the uses of the notions of civilization, race, and culture within a set of British 19th century discourses on especially Southeast Asian societies, their present state and history. Taking the point of departure in John Crawfurd’s (1783-1868) publications, it contains a study of the many debates on economic, ethnological, historical, and linguistic issues in which he participated throughout six decades and to which he contributed significantly. Through this approach I aim at providing a densely contextualized analysis of the colonial, intellectual, political, and socio-cultural aspects of Crawfurd et al’s knowledge production, its routes of transmission, receptions, and appropriations. The analytic focus is directed at the evaluative-descriptive qualities attributed to the terms civilization, race, and culture, and immanent in the concepts they refer to; on the surface claiming to be primarily descriptive, they nonetheless were normatively cogent in their inherent hierarchal and classificatory structures, as well as in providing a theoretical template delineating the naturalized historical trajectories.
Arguing that the notions of civilization, race and culture were pivotal key concepts in this colonial knowledge production, I chart the intertwined dynamics between these notions – both in their conceptual framings and contextualized uses. During this quest I endeavour to demonstrate the interpretive primacy of the concept of civilization throughout the entire period, even though racial concerns clearly were on the ascendancy and by the 1860s constituted the major theme of discussion and dissent. Common to all the analysed discourses is that they were hinged upon these three fundamental notions and their ability to address the universal as well as the particular, their capacity to encompass the past, present and future within one interpretive framework, and not at least their provision of a conceptual common ground which also, however, facilitated the possibilities of fundamental dissent within the actual interpretations.

Sala Belvedere, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA DD/MM/YYYY
  Sala Belvedere, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

In this dissertation I examine the uses of the notions of civilization, race, and culture within a set of British 19th century discourses on especially Southeast Asian societies, their present state and history. Taking the point of departure in John Crawfurd’s (1783-1868) publications, it contains a study of the many debates on economic, ethnological, historical, and linguistic issues in which he participated throughout six decades and to which he contributed significantly. Through this approach I aim at providing a densely contextualized analysis of the colonial, intellectual, political, and socio-cultural aspects of Crawfurd et al’s knowledge production, its routes of transmission, receptions, and appropriations. The analytic focus is directed at the evaluative-descriptive qualities attributed to the terms civilization, race, and culture, and immanent in the concepts they refer to; on the surface claiming to be primarily descriptive, they nonetheless were normatively cogent in their inherent hierarchal and classificatory structures, as well as in providing a theoretical template delineating the naturalized historical trajectories.
Arguing that the notions of civilization, race and culture were pivotal key concepts in this colonial knowledge production, I chart the intertwined dynamics between these notions – both in their conceptual framings and contextualized uses. During this quest I endeavour to demonstrate the interpretive primacy of the concept of civilization throughout the entire period, even though racial concerns clearly were on the ascendancy and by the 1860s constituted the major theme of discussion and dissent. Common to all the analysed discourses is that they were hinged upon these three fundamental notions and their ability to address the universal as well as the particular, their capacity to encompass the past, present and future within one interpretive framework, and not at least their provision of a conceptual common ground which also, however, facilitated the possibilities of fundamental dissent within the actual interpretations.


Location:
Sala Belvedere, Villa Schifanoia - SCHIFANOIA

Affiliation:
Department of History and Civilization

Type:
Thesis defence

Contact:
Kathy Wolf Fabiani - Send a mail
Roberta Saccon - Send a mail

Supervisor:
Prof. Sebastian Conrad

Examiner:
Jorge Flores (European University Institute)
Professor Michael Harbsmeier ( Roskilde University)
Dr. Christina Skott (Cambridge University)

Defendant:
Martin Müller (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
 

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