Chapter

Picturesque Contradictions

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520254244.003.0007
Picturesque Contradictions

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This chapter approaches imperial perceptions somewhat differently. It asks what happened when Europeans encountered their own material culture and technologies among those who were not subject to European rule and who gave new meanings to Western manufactures. To answer this question, the chapter considers how Anglophone travel writers, missionaries, scientists, and consulate administrators referenced the cultural and material environments of East Africa to create an image of the region. The particular forms of image-making that the author addresses arose from the following: a desire to compare East African materiality to Western ideals of “civilization”; and a discord between preconceived images and the cultural, economic, and social complexity that visitors like John C. Willoughby encountered. The concepts—that East Africans were internally contradicted, degenerate, and desperately needed the assistance of the West to engage successfully with modernity—that were embodied in resulting images represent a broader Western conceptualization of the world in the era of high imperialism.

Keywords: imperialism; Anglophone; travel; culture; environment

Chapter.  9581 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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