Similitude and Global Relationships

Jeremy Prestholdt

in Domesticating the World

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254244
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941472 | DOI:
Similitude and Global Relationships

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The town of Mutsamudu is located on Nzwani (Anjouan) Island in the Mozambique Channel. The people of Mutsamudu, or the Mutsamuduans, created an intimacy with a global power and parlayed their claims to a special relationship with Britain into gaining economic and political support. Mutsamuduans claimed a moral proximity and similarity to the English that convinced Britons to view them differently, to imagine them as people in some way similar to themselves. Mutsamuduans were largely successful at using things that signified Englishness to direct imperial means to local ends. The chapter reveals through this example the efficacy of cross-cultural performances of similarity on the stage of global relation. It demonstrates how the strategic uses of imported symbols affected the producers of those symbols and ultimately their relation to Nzwanians. Nzwanians relied on similitude to affect relations with diverse foreigners, including Arab, French, and American visitors.

Keywords: Britons; Mutsamudu; Mutsamuduans; cross-culture; Nzwanians; relationship

Chapter.  8778 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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