Through the Looking-Glass

Notwithstanding Gramsci or Foucault. there remains a tendency, in historical sociology. to explain processes of domination in terms of political and economic forces. In the study of state formation and imperialism. realpolitik is given precedence over ritual, material factors over the moral suasion of the sign. Yet European colonialism was also a cultural project. In Southern Africa, nonconformist missions. the vanguards of empire, conjured up new maps, new systems of relations, new notions of time, production and personhood. From their very first encounters with native communities, it is argued, they sowed the state of colonialism on which the colonial stateĀ and a more enduring condition of dependency was founded