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Recalling the Belgian Congo : Conversations and Introspection - Marie-Benedicte Dembour

Recalling the Belgian Congo

Conversations and Introspection

Hardcover Published: 30th May 2014
ISBN: 9781571819451
Number Of Pages: 256

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When the author embarked on her study, her aim was to approach former colonial officers with a view to analyzing processes of domination in the ex-Belgian Congo. However, after establishing a rapport with some of these officers, the author was soon forced to revise her initial assumptions, widely held in present-day Belgium: these officers were not the "baddies" she had expected to meet.

Exploring the colonial experience through the respondents' memories resulted in a far more complex picture of the colonial situation than she had anticipated, again forcing her to question her original assumptions. This resulted not only in a more differentiated perspective on Belgian colonialist rule, but is also sensitized her as regards the question of anthropological understanding and of what constitutes historical fact.

These two aspects of her work are reflected in this study that offers specific material on the way Belgian colonialism is remembered and reflects on its conditions of production, thus combining ethnographic analysis with a theoretical essay.

"An unusual achievement. Dr Dembour's book is a work of theory, which shows what a complex business the production of knowledge is, but she writes with such warmth, directness and honesty that fundamental epistemological issues are made vivid for beginning students as well as experienced scholars...Anyone who conducts interviews, students of memory and history, and those working on 'colonial studies' can all learn from this study." Elizabeth Tonkin

Preface
Note on use of language and pseudonyms
List of translated technical words
Maps and Illustrations
Writing about colonialismp. 1
Discordant colonial memoriesp. 3
The ever-transforming process of memoryp. 5
A reflexive and diaological ethnographyp. 7
Why 'Recalling the Belgian Congo'?p. 11
The territorial service: creation, ranks and numbersp. 17
The territorial functionsp. 22
Internal organisation: Transfers, itinerance and controlp. 30
The territorials as a group of Belgian men in a wider societyp. 37
Original prejudice against colonialismp. 45
Seeking to appear unthreateningp. 49
In search of the real Congop. 54
A matter of interpretationp. 60
Muted voicesp. 68
The chance to be recognised by the outside worldp. 77
The objective witnessp. 81
True history will not take overp. 92
Significant modalitiesp. 99
The terms of the dialoguep. 109
The value of memoryp. 112
Unavoidable misunderstandingsp. 124
Being immersed: The pretence of closenessp. 134
Preferring the authentic African: An expression of imperalistic nostalgiap. 143
Acting through persuasion: Prestige as violencep. 153
Resorting to inadequate concepts: A rather common peculiarityp. 170
Leaving out the texture of life: A rigid picturep. 176
Inventing screens: A prejudiced approachp. 179
Lacking experience: An action reduced to a discoursep. 186
The argument so farp. 194
The need to go beyond the native voicep. 196
In limbo between distance and empathyp. 198
The seeming arrogance of anthropologyp. 201
My findingsp. 202
The value of anthropologyp. 205
Appendicesp. 209
Bibliographyp. 214
Indexp. 231
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781571819451
ISBN-10: 1571819452
Series: New Directions in Anthropology
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 30th May 2014
Publisher: BERGHAHN BOOKS INC
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 13.97  x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.45
Edition Number: 2
Edition Type: Revised