ANTH 4730 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Walter Mignolo, Transculturalism, Conditionality

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13 Aug 2016
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The central theme of this week readings seems to be how postcolonialism and
colonialism is constructed through space. The different readings covered aspect about
identity, culture, language and how it is bounded in space and shaped by different
colonial and postcolonial experiences. Space does play an important part in recognition to
how we think about ourselves and perceive others. This is what Walter D. Mignolo
emphasized in his essay “Human Understanding and (Latin) American Interests The
Politics and Sensibilities of Geohistorical Locations.” Mingolo argues that the idea of
modernity is inscribed within the Western countries, primarily England. The British have
always perceived them as the epitome of what being modern is and therefore considered
every other culture to be barbaric. This is also considered one of the driving forces for
colonialization.
Daschuk talks about space in relation to aboriginal and their systematic removal
from the “Canadian Territory” and onto the reserves. The remaining indigenous tribes
were put under severe conditions, that if they wanted to continue receiving food from the
government they would have to live on the reserves. This condition made it easier for the
Canadian government to claim the land for the state and help incoming immigrants from
Europe to settle in. Furthermore, the Canadian government passed a new law, which
restricted the tribes living on the reserves to trade their produce with settlers or other
tribes living on different reserves. In order for them to trade with the outside world they
would have to get permits from the government. Thus, the government not only bounded
them in a particular space they also controlled their economic activity.
Donald E. Pease’s essay “US Imperialism: Global Dominance without Colonies”
falls along the same line of argument. Pease’s main argument is based on the fact that
most of the Americans have managed to move away from their historical past of
colonialization and they themselves have become colonizers in a way through the use of
the global economic system. The US much like its predecessors, have colonized near by
nations, however with the use of different tactics which makes it look like they are not
imposing their power on the surface. The US is also most importantly known for
internally colonizing its people, depriving them of complete rights and placing them on
plantations. The US has legitimized its claim of imperialism through the economic
system, by purchasing land from its previous owners i.e. Europeans and has continued the
oppression of the people of that land. The US in some part has also colonized
postcolonial nations of the east by lending them financial support in times of need,
however, with strings attached.
Chapter 9 of Clearing The Plains also talks about the gradual loss of indigenous
identity. With the government passing new laws that made it difficult for indigenous
tribes to survive on the reserves, the government initiated a new law, which allowed
indigenous people to forgive their status of being considered as an “Indian” and become a
complete member of the society or “Canadian” in this case. Many indigenous people had
no choice but to accept this option, since the government was not providing them with the
food they had promised in the treaties and at the same time restricting their economic
activity. The government also made them aware that if they accept this option they would
give up all benefits they would otherwise receive as being “Indians.” However, with
governments past track record on keeping their promises many decided it was best to go
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