Centre and periphery in colonial/neocolonial discourse

Daniil Pleshak, Saint Petersburg State University

 

What a great blessing to partake in Roman glory: constructing the Roman and barbarian in historiography of Agathias Scholasticus

 

Agathias Scholasticus (530-582) is a Greek-language author of poetry and prose. His work “On the reign of Justinian” (Περί της Ιουστινιανού βασιλείας)  is dedicated to the latter years of the rule of emperor Justinian I (527-565). This period witnessed great social and political changes in the history of Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire). Its culture was rapidly losing semblance with the Roman culture of the Classical epoch. One of the indicators of this change was, for example, the fact that Greek had almost completely replaced Latin as the language of the state. Besides that, the Empire experienced numerous military defeats from its neighbors losing gains of the early Justinian reign.

Military defeats and a new cultural climate forced Agathius to create a new Roman (i.e. Byzantine) identity, that could not any longer  rely on military power, sensu stricto Roman culture or Latin ethnicity. The current paper intends to establish Agathias’ image of a Roman through defining the opposition of Romans and Barbarians.

 

Key words: Roman ideology, Late Antiquity, Eastern Roman Empire, barbarians.

 

 

Dmitrij Vozchikov, Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg

 

Brahmins, Tyrants and Tigers: Vijayanagara Empire as Seen by the 15th – and 16th century Venetians

 

The paper observes the image of the last of the great medieval Inidan Hindu empires, the Vijayanagara Empire, drawn up by two Venetian merchants in their accounts, separated by more than a century. Unlike the wide-known Portuguese accounts of the South Asia, the late medieval and early modern Venetian reports and their images of the oriental empires were strongly influenced by the official Venetian republican myth. Nicolò de' Conti (ca. 1395–1469) visited Vijayanagar in the 1420s (?), Cesare Federici arrived there in 1566. Conti saw the empire at the time of its political and military rise and stated that its king “surpassed all the others”. Federici witnessed the decline of the empire and the deplorable desolation of its capital soon after the Battle of Talikota (1565). The city was swarmed by the wild animals, such as tiger and other predators.

Nicolò de' Conti scrupulously described the Hindu religious practices (e. g. sati and asceticism) and festivals (Holi, Diwali and Chariot Festival). He described the Brahmins as virtuous philosophers and powerful sorcerers. Federici’s attitude towards the Inidan “idolatry” was much more contemptuous: he called the Hindu customs “bestiality” (bestialità). Conti’s account included only descriptions of the imperial court, everyday life and the religious practices. Unlike him, Federici’s “Travel to the East India” also included a narrative of the political struggle in Vijayanagar. For Federici, the main reason lying behind the decline of the empire was a political usurpation by the “three tyrant brothers” led by Ramaraja, who deprived the legal sovereign of his throne, and later, after Ramaraja’s death and transfer of the court, it was an establishing of a new dynasty that determined political turmoil and struggle among the “barons” in the empire. In general, two descriptions of the same empire in the different periods of its history by the merchants of the “Serenissima” reflected different major tendencies in the Western approach towards India: Conti’s “Bizenegalia” had still been an abundant and wealthy part, belonging to the “mysterious India” of the medieval European imagination; Federici’s “Bezeneger” rather demonstrated an idea of instability and briefness of any might and power.

 

Key words: medieval India, Vijayanagara Empire, Republic of Venice, Hinduism, Nicolò de' Conti, Cesare Federici, medieval voyages, orientalism, image of the Other.

 

 

Aleksandr Emanov, Tyumen State University

 

The ascending periphery: Caffa in

Genoese Romania in the 14th-15th centuries

 

The Problems of Periphery require extraordinary Research Strategies. The Theory “Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel Huntington, the Concept “World-System Approach” by Immanuel Wallerstein, the Idea “Network Society” by Manuel Castells exhausted due to centralist Vector of World History. The new Opportunities are opening up with the Theory of pluriversal Development by Mexican Anthropologist Enrique Dussel, the pluritopic Concept by Argentine Culturologist Walter Mignolo, the Ideas “Altern Societies” by Costa Rican Ethnologist Nelson Maldonado-Torres. They suggest considering  the World History from the Position of provincial Communities. Eventually, it will open a different Understanding of Power, Life and Freedom.

Genoa was a Commune with a tendency for Transformation into Signoria in the 15th Century. It was named “Superba”, “Domina marium”, “Signora del mare” after the naval Victory over Venice and the Byzantine Empire. There was established the collegial Department – "Officium Gazariae", because the Genoese Settlements were located on the Crimean and Azov’s Coast, comprising the legacy of the Khazar Khaganate.

Caffa was the Capital of the Genoese Possessions. Caffa’s Consul was elected for a Year in Genoa. He had taken an Oath on Arrival at the Place in the Presence of the People, promised to keep the local Customs. His title was "Consul de Caffa et de tutti ianuensi in imperio Gazarie". In Caffa Latin, Greek, Tatar oral and Uighur Written  were regonized as equal official Languages. It was the Residence of the Latin’s, Greek’s, Armenian’s, Syrian’s Bishops, Jewish Rabbi, Karaite Gaham and Muslim Qadi. Oriental Languages were studied In School at the Monastery of St. Francis, the Bible and the Liturgies were translated  into local Languages. There was compiled the Latin – Persian – Coman (Turkic) Dictionary, the famous "Codex Cumanicus".

The West Standards took secondary place  in Ultramare. Caffa’s Jews did not know the territorial Segregation, they didn’t wear  special Signs, were allowed to participate in Parlamente and  hold  public Posts. The Franciscan Monks could wear Shoes, didn’t cut the Tonsure, used a folding Altar.

 

Key Words: Genoese Romania, Caffa, Officium Gazariae, Consul de Caffa, Codex Cumanicus, Latin’s, Greek’s, Armenian’s and Syrian’s Bishops, Rabbi, Gaham, Qadi.

 

 

Veronika Sharova, Institute of Philosophy of the

Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

 

‘Civilization’; vs ‘barbarism’ in the colonial discourse of the Enlightenment

 

XVII-XVIII centuries became a fundamentally important era in Europe   terms of expanding the space of political, economic and cultural influence. This report will focus on the study of the ideological landscape that was the background of European colonial expansion in other parts of the world. How did the philosophical understanding and political embodiment of the phenomenon, which was later expressed in a famous phrase"the burden of the white man", evolved? How did the colonial practices relate to the theory of "bon sauvage," who was not spoiled by civilization – an image very popular in the literature and philosophical doctrines of the Enlightenment? What was cosmopolitanism in the theories of XVII-XVIII centuries like? The paper will address a number of philosophical concepts of that era in order to find answers to these questions.

In particular, the report will demonstrate the evolution of Immanuel Kant's views on colonialism: if in Kant's "Idea of Universal History on a Worldwide Civil Plan" (1784) he argues that, perhaps, our part of the world will ultimately give the laws to the rest of the world , then in the "Fundamentals of the Metaphysics of Morality" and "Towards the Eternal Peace," his position becomes substantially more critical. In addition, the report will analyze the anti-slavery aspect of Enlightenment thought: in particular, Denis Diderot denounced both the very idea of "higher" and "lower" peoples, and the claims of European powers to "civilize" the rest of the world. In the context of the colonial discourse and the colonial practices of the Enlightenment, there are plots that seem paradoxical: The "Black Jacobins" of San Domingo (now Haiti) advocated the inclusion of an item on the abolition of slavery in the Declaration on the Rights of Man and the Citizen and merged with the French revolutionaries from the Society of Friends of the Blacks, which included, in particular, Mirabeau and Talleyrand. Similar episodes of history, as it seems to us, have a common logic, which  will be elaborated on in the report.

 

Key words: Enlightenment, philosophy, history, colonialism, colonial expansion, Europe, civilization, barbarism, XVII century, XVIII century.

 

 

Taisia Demicheva, Saint Petersburg State University

 

On the duality of the image of the “noble savage”  in French essays on round-the world travel of the second half of the 18th century

 

This report based on Bougainville’s "Trip around the World on the frigate "La Boudeuse" and transport "L'Étoiel" and La Perouse’s "Trip around the world on the "La Boussole" and "L'Astrolabe" will consider the duality of the image of the noble savage.

Travel essays were primary sources of information about newly discovered peoples. The attitude towards the Empire's influence and the power's establishment in the overseas possessions was influenced by these works glorifying the Empire's role. This literature was extremely varied and it had subtle transitions from the objective scientific knowledge towards  images or even utopia. The historian Paul Arthur used the term "virtual voyages" by putting this travel essays between myth and reality.

Being a valuable source of intercultural discourse, this literature contributed to the adoption of the colonial expansion by Europeans. Also, it was characterized by a duality, like all Enlightenment literature. It is typical of postcolonialism to consider these essays as the interaction between fiction and history. The different communities were shown there, they were  represented as good and bad. That enabled to mock metropolitan country’s shortcomings  from different perspectives. The perception of the image of the "other"  was considered within the usual system of values, such as,  concepts of human freedom, private property, commerce and law.

Supported by Enlighteners, it was a widespread belief that all savages were children of nature, the ideal to which Europeans, sunk in vices, had to strive. Travelers looked upon discovered nations as upon people close to the natural state, which was promoted by the Enlightenment, and at the same time,  these peoples were perceived negatively as uncivilized and barbarous. The term "children" was very applicable to them as it was not  used in a positive sense, compared  the natives  to children in their moral development as they were  not on a par with Europeans.

Despite, the benevolent intentions of Europeans, at first sight,  the intercultural contact in the second half of the XVIII century led to the emergence of patterns where colonialism often stemmed from violent conflicts and relations based on inequality. It is hardly possible to talk about a successful intercultural dialogue since the comparison between other peoples and Europeans was not in favor of the native people.

 

Key words: round-the-world travel, cross-cultural discourse, the noble savage, empires, Enlightenment, La Perouse, Bougainville

 

 

 

Darja Lebedeva, Moscow State University 

 

Multifaceted «Other». The image of indigenous people of German colonies at the turn of the 20th century in "Deutsche Kolonialzeitung"

 

The following research contains an analysis of German colonial discourse, based on materials of "Deutsche Kolonialzeitung" (the German colonial newspaper), a source reflecting public opinion on subject of colonialism. Research is limited to the period from 1899 till 1903, which is marked by the climax of German colonial expansion, prior to significant changes in colonial policy and discourse caused by wars against Nama and Herero. The author considers the problem of the image of the Other — indigenous population of the German colonies in Africa, China and islands of the Pacific Ocean and concludes its variability and dependence of this image on stereotypes and expectations from certain colonies in terms of politics and economy, and on perception of the colonialism by different social groups. The research reveals an interrelation between such concepts as "race", "civilization" and "culture" in German colonial discourse at the turn of the century and its role in the creation of German national identity.

 

Key words: history of Germany, colonialism, discourse, national identity, image of the other, racism.

 

 

Natalja Gramatchikova, Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg

 

Samoyeds of the Novaya Zemlya: the researcher’s experience as the factor of the formationof discursive practices

 

To form the language of ethnography, several factors are important, among which the genre of description, the situation of the manifestation of an ethnic culture, the position of the author. The model of the mythological perception of "strangers" in relation to Samoyeds, represented in the literature of the XIV-XVI centuries, where Samoyeds are peripheral beings (their monstrosity is unquestionable, but in its own way attractive), and have a significant influence on the subsequent perception of this ethnos.

S. Maximov's book “A Year in the North” (1859), awarded with a small gold medal by the RGO, belongs to a new stage in Russian ethnography's development. In the genre of travel essays Maksimov creates a construct of the "evolution ladder", on the steps of which he placed the peoples of the North of Russia: Pomors - Zyrians - Karelians - Sami (Lapps) - Nenets (Samoyeds). Maksimov fixes a number of situations that inevitably arise in the future characteristics of Samoyeds: traditional clothing, food, perception of the temperature, attitude towards dogs and deer, gender indistinguishability, language etc. For Maksimov, the Samoyeds are at the beginnig of the "evolutionary ladder", but the artistic elements in the scenes from Samoyeds life decorates the author's rationalism. Maximov's book is both enlightening and stigmatizing: it is dominated by an "external" view of the Samoyeds as "strangers"; this view belongs precisely to the researcher (Maksimov faithfully cites the statements of the Pomors, demonstrating a greater range of acceptance). In 50 years later P. Infantiev (1909) tried to soften the same "external" position in his enlightenment efforts.

Another tendency related to the researcher's personal extreme experience of polar wintering is given by Nosilov's and Borisov's essays about Novaya Zemlya. The literary and ethnographic result of wintering is the change in attitude towards the Nenets population of Novaya Zemlya: the traditional practices of adapting are tested, and the joint experience of dangers in many cases leads to the rejection of colonial rhetoric and the building partnerships.

A new stage (self)description of this ethnos can be observed in the prose of the 1930s. The background for evaluating the lacunarity of educational ethnographic descriptions we found in A. Nerkagi's narratives.

 

Key words: Nenets, Samoyeds, Novaya Zemlya, S. Maksimov, K. Nosilov, Pelja Ponuh, A. Borisov, A. Nerkagi, extreme experience, ethnographic essay.

 

 

Ilya Startsev, Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Arkhangelsk

 

“Enlightenment” as the main criterion of “centre”; and  “periphery”  in the discourse of Russian press of the era of Nicholas I

 

The main criterion for determining the "center" and "periphery" in the Russian press during the reign of Nicholas I is the category of enlightenment. According to the Dictionary of the Church Slavonic and Russian language of 1847, "enlightenment" is "enriching the mind with knowledge," which implied the development of science and education. Enlightenment was to contribute both to technical progress, and to the general "softening of morals" and "abandoning prejudices."

The idea of the spread of "enlightenment" in the world, according to the Russian press,   should be imagined as concentric system of several levels. The center of "enlightenment" and "civilization" was Western Europe (it included France, England, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Northern Italy). With regard to this, Tyutchev wrote: "What we are compelled to call Europe, has no other name than" civilization." Western Europe was surrounded by semi-enlightened countries, where the achievements of the sciences were smaller, but still within the permissible limits - Italy, Spain, Russia, the USA, the countries of Scandinavia. Such countries were described as "old" or "young" (see below). The next level was comprised by "semi-barbaric" countries  - non-European, but partly developed - at least, with the presence of the state. (Turkey, Persia, Egypt, countries of Latin America, Japan). And, finally, the "barbarous" countries - Africa and other distant non-European territories were included there.

It is important to note that the " lantern of education" had  a tendency to move in the course of time. Those countries, which used to be enlightened,  but not any longer were such - were called (depending on the level of the periphery) "old" or "decrepit", those that could become enlightened in the future - "young". The direction of the movement, as a whole,  was from the southeast to the northwest: the Middle East, then Greece, then Rome, then Western Europe. The countries with the future, according to the Russian press, were Russia and the United States. But in principle, "old" and even "decrepit" countries could "look younger" - in case of decisive reforms. Thus, the reforms of Muhammad-Ali turned the "decrepit" Egypt into a "young" country. The possibility of such reforms was also considered for the "old" countries of Italy and Spain.

 

Key words: Russia, Nicolas I, press, Europe, colonialism.

 

 

 

Darya Shevlyakova, Moscow State University

 

Creation of an image of the motherland

in stamps of the Italian colonies (1920-1941)

 

The report outlines methods of construction and modeling of an image of Italy in  a series of stamp production in 1920-40s in the following Italian colonies: Eritrea, Somalia, Libya, Ethiopia and Rhodes. Stamps, owing to their mass circulation across the territory, both national and foreign, are valuable material for a research into purposeful formation of  a positive image of a metropolitan country. The report  will show stamps emphasise elements of the image of Italian’s glorious past.  Besides, it will analyse what symbols and archetypes from the historical past of Italy are presented in the philatelic series  issued  and aimed at the Italian colonies.

 

Key words: Italy, Italian colonies, philatelic production, image of the mother country, historical past of the nation.