Decolonization must be either “revolutionary or inexistent,” declared the Martinican poet and politician Aimé Césaire (356). So long as it enforces a relationship between domination and subjugation, colonialism cannot be “reformed” in any substantive way. The International Colonial Institute (ici, 1893–1982)—the subject of Wagner’s penetrating volume—begged to differ. The ici claimed that under the guidance of European experts, colonial subjects could become productive contributors to global capitalist society “voluntarily” and “without renouncing their culture and traditions” (354). It rejected modernization theory’s claims of liberal universalism, arguing instead for localized models. Nonetheless, ici experts shared “best practices” from around the world, creating a “trans-colonial” sphere of knowledge. Its ideas shaped colonial policies before 1945 and neocolonial practices thereafter; famous colonizers like Frederick Lugard and Hubert Lyautey were among its members. Wagner argues that the very consistency of the ici’s calls for reform reveals the hollowness of imperial apologetics....
Colonial Internationalism and the Governmentality of Empire, 1893–1982 by Florian Wagner
Benjamin A. Coates; Colonial Internationalism and the Governmentality of Empire, 1893–1982 by Florian Wagner. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2023; 53 (4): 638–639. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/jinh_r_01911
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