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Culture and Imperialism (of Grand Street, A. Sivanandan (of Race and Class), Joanne ‘Wypeiewski (of The Nation), and Karl Mille (of London Review ‘of Books). 1am also grateful o editors of the Guardian (London) {and fo Paul Keegan of Penguin under whose auspices some of the ideas in this book were fest expressed. Other friends on whose indulgence, hospitality, and critciems I depended were Donald Mitchell, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Masao Miyoshi, Jean Franco, ‘Marianne MeDonald, Anwar Abdel Malek, Eqbal Ahmad, Jonathan Culler, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Benita Parry, and Barbara Harlow. Ie gives me particular pleasure to acknowledge the billance and perspicaciy of several students of mine at Col- ‘ombia University, for whom any tescher would have been grate- ful. These young scholars and critics gave me the fall beneir of thei exciting work, which is now both well published and well known: Anne McClintock, Rob Nixon, Suvendi Perera, Gauri Viswanathan, and Tim Brennan. Tn the preparation of the manuscript, I have been very ably helped in different ways by Yumna Siddiqi, Aamie Mufti, Susan hora, David Beams, Paola di Robilant, Deborah Poole, Ana Dopico, Pierre Gagniet, and Kieran Kennedy. Zaineb Istrabadi performed the difficult task of deciphering my appalling hand ‘writing and then putting it into successive deafts with admirable patience and skill Tam very indebeed to her for unstnting sup- ‘port, ood humour and intelligence. Ae various stages of editorial preparation Frances Coady and Carmen Callil were helpful read> fers and good friends of what Twas trying to present here. 1 Imust also record my deep grasitude and almost thunderstuck ‘admiration for Elisabeth Sifton: friend of many years, superb editor, exacting and alweays sympathetic rite. George Andreou. ‘was unfailingly helpful in geting things right as the Book moved through the publishing process. To Mariam, Wadie, and Ni Said, who lived with the author of this book in often trying circumstances, heartfelt thanks for their constant love ‘and support New York, NY July i992 Overlapping Territories, Intertwined Histories Silence from and about the subject was the order ofthe day ‘Some ofthe silence were broken, and rome wete mainsined by author who lived with and wishin the policing sates. ‘What lam interested in are the strategies for bretking TOMI MORRISON Playing ithe Dark Histo i other words, isnot a calculating machine. e ‘nfo in the mind and the imagination, andi aes body Inthe mulefariour responses of = people's clue, elf the inthatly sobcle mediation of omatral reali, of under pinning economic fac, of pity objects. BASIL DAVIDSON Affi m Modern History Appeals to the past ace among the commonest of strategies in interpretations of the present. What animates such appeals is not only disagreement about what happened in the past and whar the ‘past was, but uncertainty about whether the past really is past, ‘over and concluded, or whether it continues, albeie in diferent forms, pechaps. This problem animates all sorts of discussions — about influence, shout blame and judgement, about present ‘ctualties and future priorities. In one of his most famous eaey critical essays, T.S. Elio takes up 2 similar constellation of issues and, although the occasion a= Well as the intention of his essay is almost purely aesthetic, one ‘can use his formulations to inform other realms of experience. ‘The poet, Eliot says, is obviously an individual talent, but he Culture and Imperialism ‘works within a tadition chat cannot be merely inherited but can only be obtained “by great labour’. Tradition, he continues, involves, in the frst place, che historical sense, which we may «all nearly indispensable ro anyone who would continue to be 2 poet beyond his ewenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves @ perception, not only of the pastnessof the past, but of ts presence; the historical sense compels s man to write not ‘merely with his own generation in his bones, but with 2 feeling thar the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and Within ie the whole of the literature of his own country has a Simultaneous existence and composes 2 simultaneous order. ‘This historical sense, which is a sense ofthe timeless as well a5 ofthe temporal and ofthe timeless and ofthe temporal eogether, is what makes a weiter traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his own contemporancity |Di2 Poet NO ar of any ar, has hi complete meaning ‘The force of these comments is dicecred equally, I think at poets who think critically and at critics whove work aims ata Close appreciation of the poctic process. The main idea is that even as we must fully comprehend the pastncss of the patty there {is no just way in which the past can be quarantined from the present, Past and present inform each other, each implies the other And, in dhe totally ideal sense intended by Eliot, each co-exists with the other. What Elie proposes, in shor, is a vision of literary tradition chat, while i espeees temporal succession, isnot wholly commanded by it. Neither past nor present, any more than any poet or artist hat a complete meaning alone lior's synthesis of past, present, and future, however, i ideal- istic and in importane ways 3 function of his own peculiar history! also, its conception of time leaves out the combativenese with ‘which individuals and insivtions decide on what is tradition and ‘what is not, what relevant and what not. But his central idea i hhow we formulate or represen the past shapes our under Standing and views ofthe present. Lee me give an example, During the Gulf War of 1990-91, the collision between Iraq and the Overlapping Territories, ntetwined Histories United States was a function of two fundamentally opposed his- tories, each used fo advantage by the oficial establishment of teach country. As construed by the Iraqi Baath Party, modern ‘Arab history shows the unrealized, unfulled promise of Arab independence, a promise traduced both by ‘the West’ and by a ‘whole array of more recent enemies, like Arab reaction and Zion- iam, Iraq's bloody occupation of Kuwait was, therefore, justified not only on Bismarckian grounds but also because it was believed that the Arabs had to right the wrongs done against them and wrest from imperialism one of its greatest prizes. Conversely, in the American view of the past, the United States was not a classical imperial power, buc a righter of wrongs around the world, in pUEsut of tyranny, in defence of freedom no matter the place or Cost, The war inevitably pitted these versions ofthe past against tach other Elio’ ideas about the complexity of the relationship berween pase and present are particulary suggestive in the debate over the ‘caning of ‘imperialism’, a word and an idea today so contzo- versal, s0 fraught with all sorts of questions, doubts, polemics, fnd ideological premises as nearly to resist use altogether. To some extent of course the debate involves definitions and attempes at delimitacions of the very notion itself was imperialism princi- pally economic, how far didi extend, what were its causes, was It aystemati, when (or whether) did icend? The roll eal of names, ‘who have contributed to the discussion in Europe and America is impressive: Kautsky, Hilferding, Luxemburg, Hobson, Lenin, Schumpeter, Arendt, Magdoff, Paul Kennedy. And in recent years such works published in the United Sates as Paul Kennedy"s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, the revisionist history of William Appleman Williams, Gabriel Kolko, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zina, and Walter Lefeber, and studious defences of explanations of American policy as non-imperialist written by ‘atious strategists theorercians, and sages~all this has kept che ‘guestion of imperialism, and its applicabliry (or not to the United States, the main power of the day, very much alive. "These authorities debaced largely political and economic ques- sions, Yer scarcely any attention has been paid to what I believe isthe privileged role of culeurein the modern imperial experience, 3 Culture and Imperialisns and little notice taken of the fact that the extraordinary global teach of classical nineteenth- and early ewentieth-century Euro- pean imperialism still cast a considerable shadow over our own times, Hardly any North American, African, European, Latin ‘American, Indian, Caribbean, Australian individual—the list is very long--who is live today has nor been couched by the empires Of the past. Britain and France berween them controlled immense fertories: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the colonies in ‘North and South America and the Caribbean, large swatches of Africa, the Middle East, the Far East (Britein will hold Hong ‘Kong as a colony until 1997), and the Indian subcontinent in is centiecy all these fell under the sway of and in time were liberated from British or French rule; in addition, the Unieed Staes, Russa, and several lesser European countries, 0 say nothing of Japan land Turkey, were also imperial powers for some or all of the nineteenth century. This pattern of dominions or possessions laid the groundwork for whae isin effect now a fully global world. Flectronic communications, the global extent of trade, of avail- ability of resources, of travel of information about weather pat fers and ecological change have joined together even the most distant comers of the world. This st of patterns, I believe, was first established and made possible by the modern empices. "Now Lam temperamnentally and philosophically opposed to vast system building or toallatc theories of homan history. Bur T ust say that having studied and indeed lived within the modern empires, Iam strack by how constancy expanding, how inexor- bly integrative they were. Whether in Mats, or in conservative works like those by J. R.Secley, or in modem analyses like those by D. K. Fieldhouse and C. C. Eldridge (whose England's Mission {2 a central work)y’ one is made to sce that the British empice ineegrated and fused things within it, and taken together it and ‘other empires made the world one. Yee no individual, and cer- tainly not I, can see or fully grasp this whole imperil world. ‘When we read the debate between contemporary historians Patrick O'Brien and Davis and Huttenback (Whose important book Mammon and the Pursuit of Empire tties to quantify the ‘actual profitability of imperial activities), or when we look at ‘atler debates such as the Robinson —Gallagher controversy, oF 4 Overlapping Territories, Imtertwined Histories at the work of the dependency and world-accumulation econo- ‘mists Gunder Frank and Samir Amin,” as literary and cultural historians we are compelled co ask what allthis means for iter- pretations ofthe Vierorian novel, say, or of French historiography, fof align grand opera, of German metaphysis of the same period ‘We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies, To speak, a= ‘O'Brien docs, of ‘the propaganda for an expanding empire [which] created illusions of security and false expectations that high rerurns would accrue to those who invested beyond its bound aries" isin effect to speak of an atmosphere created by both empire and novels, by racial theory and geographical speculation, by the concepe of national identity and urban (or rural) routine. ‘The phrase “false expectations’ suggests Great Expectations, ‘invested beyond is boundaries’ suggests Joseph Sedley and Becky ‘Sharp, ‘created illsion’ suggests Illusions perdues the crossings lover between culture and imperialism are compelling. It is diffcule to connect these different realms, t0 show the involvements of culture with expanding empires, to make obser- vations about art that preserve its unique endowments and at the Same time map st affiations, but, I submit, we must attempt this, and set the atin the global, earthly context. Territory and possessions are at stake, geography and power. Everything about Inuman history is rooted in the earth, which has meant chat we ‘must think about habitation, but i has also meant that people have planned to have more territory and therefore must do some- thing. about its indigenous residents, Ar some very basic level, limperialisen means thinking about, settling oa, controlling land that you do not possess, that is distant, chat i lived on and owned by others. For all kinds of reasons it acteaces some people and ‘often involves untold misery for others. Yet itis generally true that literary historians who study the great sixteenth-century poet Edmund Spenser, for example, do not connect his bloodehirsy plans for Ireland, where he imagined a British army virwally ‘Exterminating the native inhabitants, with his poetic achievement fo with the history of British role over Ireland, which continues today. For the purposes of this book, I have maintained a focus on 5