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Naming Colonialism: History and Collective Memory in the Congo, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture)

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Naming Colonialism: History and Collective Memory in the Congo, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What’s in a name? As Osumaka Likaka argues in this illuminating study, the names that Congolese villagers gave to European colonizers reveal much about how Africans experienced and reacted to colonialism. The arrival of explorers, missionaries, administrators, and company agents allowed Africans to observe Westerners’ physical appearances, behavior, and cultural practices at close range—often resulting in subtle yet trenchant critiques. By naming Europeans, Africans turned a universal practice into a local mnemonic system, recording and preserving the village’s understanding of colonialism in the form of pithy verbal expressions that were easy to remember and transmit across localities, regions, and generations.

    Methodologically innovative, Naming Colonialism advances a new approach that shows how a cultural process—the naming of Europeans—can provide a point of entry into economic and social histories. Drawing on archival documents and oral interviews, Likaka encounters and analyzes a welter of coded fragments. The vivid epithets Congolese gave to rubber company agents—“the home burner,” “Leopard,” “Beat, beat,” “The hippopotamus-hide whip”—clearly conveyed the violence that underpinned colonial extractive economies. Other names were subtler, hinting at derogatory meaning by way of riddles, metaphors, or symbols to which the Europeans were oblivious. Africans thus emerge from this study as autonomous actors whose capacity to observe, categorize, and evaluate reverses our usual optic, providing a critical window on Central African colonialism in its local and regional dimensions.

Synopsis:

What’s in a name? As Osumaka Likaka argues in this illuminating study, the names that Congolese villagers gave to European colonizers reveal much about how Africans experienced and reacted to colonialism. The arrival of explorers, missionaries, administrators, and company agents allowed Africans to observe Westerners’ physical appearances, behavior, and cultural practices at close range—often resulting in subtle yet trenchant critiques. By naming Europeans, Africans turned a universal practice into a local mnemonic system, recording and preserving the village’s understanding of colonialism in the form of pithy verbal expressions that were easy to remember and transmit across localities, regions, and generations.

About the Author

Osumaka Likaka is associate professor of history at Wayne State University. He is author of Rural Society and Cotton in Colonial Zaire, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations   

Acknowledgments       

Introduction: Naming and African Voices           

1 The Dynamics of Naming in Precolonial Congo: An Overview       

2 Colonialism and the Village World: Contexts to Naming           

3 Naming, Colonialism, Making History, and Social Memories       

4 Early Naming, Explorations, Trade, and Rubber Collection           

5 Naming and Belgian Colonial Rule           

6 Talking under One's Breath: Praise Names as Strategic Ambiguities       

7 Confronting African Voices: Negotiations and Instrumentalization of Names   

Conclusions           

Sample of Names Used in This Work       

Notes       

Works Cited       

Index   

Product Details

ISBN:
9780299233648
Author:
Likaka, Osumaka
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Subject:
Congo (Brazzaville) - Colonization
Subject:
Congo (Kinshasa) - Colonization
Subject:
Africa, West
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
World History-General
Edition Description:
1
Series:
Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture
Publication Date:
20091231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 b/w illus., 2 maps
Pages:
216
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

Naming Colonialism: History and Collective Memory in the Congo, 1870-1960 (Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture) New Trade Paper
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Product details 216 pages University of Wisconsin Press - English 9780299233648 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
What’s in a name? As Osumaka Likaka argues in this illuminating study, the names that Congolese villagers gave to European colonizers reveal much about how Africans experienced and reacted to colonialism. The arrival of explorers, missionaries, administrators, and company agents allowed Africans to observe Westerners’ physical appearances, behavior, and cultural practices at close range—often resulting in subtle yet trenchant critiques. By naming Europeans, Africans turned a universal practice into a local mnemonic system, recording and preserving the village’s understanding of colonialism in the form of pithy verbal expressions that were easy to remember and transmit across localities, regions, and generations.
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