The conviction that we all have, possess or inhabit a discrete culture, and have done so for centuries, is one of the more dominant default assumptions of our contemporary politico-intellectual moment. However, the concept of culture as a signifier of subjectivity only entered the modern Anglo-U.S. episteme in the late nineteenth century. Culture and Eurocentrism seeks to account for the term’s relatively recent emergence and movement through the episteme, networked with many other concepts – nature, race, society, imagination, savage, and civilization– at the confluence of several disciplines. Culture, it contends, doesn’t describe difference but produces it, hierarchically. In so doing, it seeks to recharge postcoloniality, the critique of eurocentrism.
|Introduction: Culture as Problem / 1. Culture/Race/Nature: Arnold, Tylor / 2. (Civil) Society/Nature: Hobbes, Locke, Macaulay / 3. Imagination/Imitation: Shelley, Hobbes, Macaulay, Kipling, Malinowski. / 4. Culture/s: Williams, Leavis, Spencer / 5. ‘”Race”/Cultures: Du Bois, Fletcher, Boas, Turner, “Jefferson” / Conclusion: Modernity, Eurocentrism, Postcoloniality / Bibliography / Index|
A lively, provocative and original work. Ismail’s vigorous arguments will stimulate debate across many fields, including postcolonial studies, cultural studies and global studies.
How scandalous is eurocentrism? The question is embarrassing: the larger eurocentrism’s vestiges seem to loom, the less room for scandal they leave. Qadri Ismail’s provocation, as sassy as it is erudite, aims a renewed postcolonial studies full in the face of this embarrassment.
Qadri Ismail is Associate Professor of English at the University of Minnesota.