colonialism without colonies: international workshop

Colonialism without Colonies

International Workshop

Organized by Francesca Falk (ETH Zurich/University of Basel), Barbara Luethi (University of Cologne) and Patricia Purtschert (ETH Zurich).

Support: Marina Lienhard and Jovita Pinto (ETH Zurich).

Villa Hatt, ETH Zurich, 14.-15. June 2013.

This workshop explores the concept of “colonialism without colonies” from two main perspectives: First, we look at countries that were not colonized but situated next to colonies (Nepal, Iran, Ethiopia and Liberia). How were these places affected by colonialism, in what way can they be seen as “quasi-colonies” and thus as part of the colonial constellation? How did their situation differ from the neighboring colonies; did they possibly emerge as places of resistance to colonialism? What effects does the history of having been “on the margins” of colonialism have on the postcolonial present?

Second, we examine countries that were close to the metropoles without having been formal colonial powers (Austria, Latvia, Iceland and Switzerland). How were these places entangled in the colonial endeavor, how did they manage to profit from it and in what ways did their involvement in colonialism differ from those of the ‘official’ colonial powers? How do narratives of having been “outside of colonialism” influence and complicate contemporary debates on the postcolonial heritage in these places?

Finally, the question of whether a country belonged to the colonial regime or not is itself an object of debate: Is Ethiopia the only African country that was never colonized; or does the Italian occupation between 1935-41 constitute an especially cruel example of European colonialism? Was Austria outside of the colonial context; or does its Habsburg past necessitate approaching it within the framework of imperialism? Does the fact that Iceland was a Danish colony mean that it needs to be seen as a former colony only; or does it need to be contextualized within the European colonial metropoles? How can we interpret the position of Liberia as an American colony, an independent Republic and the imagined centre of an African Empire?

The workshop treats these questions in different studies related to eight specific countries. There is a strong focus on the interconnection of power and knowledge, as well as on the cultural effects of colonialism, that is in the ways in which colonial images and perspectives influenced and still do affect political, popular as well as scientific discourses in these places. A strong emphasis is further put on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, religion and class. For all these aims, postcolonial studies prove to be an important point of reference.

The over-arching aim of the workshop is to develop, discuss and test the epistemic value and the heuristic reach of the concept of “colonialism without colonies”.

Download the detailed schedule here.