I have a presentation titled "Colonial Representation of Colonised People: A Case Study of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh" which is scheduled to be held in the University of Hull, September 11, 2009, organised by the Department of Politics and International Studies at Hull. I am going to discuss that colonialism is conventionally defined as occupation of weakers’ territory by stronger nation or state for political domination, economic exploitation, and ‘civilising’ mission. Some radical scholars view colonialism as a cultural practice and relations between unequal powers. My study critically examines this established epistemology of colonialism arguing that colonisers did not only exploit the economic resources of, and exert political dominance upon, occupied territory but also represent the colonised people in texts and textures as ‘uncivilised’ category to substantiate colonialists’ claims of being civilised. I will prove it with the evidences referring to the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh which was colonised from 1860 to 1947 by the British as part of British Bengal. My theoretical framework is related to the anthropology of colonialism. I do welcome remarks on it and any substantial comment from group members (South Asian Anthropology) will be appreciated.

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Some provocative questions- what happens when we critically examine fashionable slogans like 'epistemology of colonialism'? How does it compare with the way philosophers use the term epistemology? Might it be that social and cultural anthropologists are sometimes guilty of appropriating tantalising terms without subjecting them to the analytic rigour they deserve? This might be seen as another way of asking how it is that epistemology, as the theorisation of knowing, came to be given a political inflection. Here some of us might invoke the ideas of Foucault.

This is in no way a criticism. In a previous generation, scholars might have been discussing the 'ideology of colonialism'. I suspect you do actually mean something different from this, not merely recapitulating old ideas in new forms, but how would you explain this difference and the change in discourse that produced it?

What would make a scholar 'radical' to view colonialism as a cultural practice involving relations between unequal powers? That sounds rather uncontroversial to me. Clearly, to invoke a 'radical' scholarly view, is to have a sense of an opposing one that might be considered conventional and/or hegemonic. Are they radical perhaps because they take a culturalist view, because they approach it in ways that political scientists or economic historians might not? These are just questions which I hope you will find stimulating.

I do have a few criticisms of the summary of your paper you provide though. Firstly, I think use of the term 'prove' is misplaced, I think what you are actually talking about is making a persuasive case for an intellectual proposition. Secondly I think your penultimate sentence is redundant - you merely allude to a theoretical framework. A good academic abstract would demand something more substantive. Do you actually have a defined theoretical framework that organises your narrative and thereby contributes to the persuasive quality of your argument?



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