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The fate of Namibian skulls in the Alexander Ecker Collection in Freiburg

This article explores the history of the Alexander Ecker Collection and situates it within the larger trajectory of global collecting of human remains during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is then linked to the specific context of the genocide in then German South West Africa (1904–8), with the central figure of Eugen Fischer. The later trajectory of the collection leads up to the current issues of restitution. The Freiburg case is instructive since it raises issues about the possibilities and limitations of provenance research. At the same time, the actual restitution of fourteen human remains in 2014 occurred in a way that sparked serious conflict in Namibia which is still on-going four years later. In closing, exigencies as well as pressing needs in connection with the repatriation and (where possible) rehumanisation of human remains are discussed.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Interrogating civilisational analysis in a global age

Contemporary civilisational analysis has emerged in the post-Cold War period as a forming but already controversial field of scholarship. This book focuses on the scholarship produced in this field since the 1970s. It begins with anthropological axioms posited by Ibn Khaldun, Simon Bolivar and George Pachymeres. Three conceptual images of civilisations are prominent in the field. First, civilisations are conceived as socio-cultural units, entities or blocs in an 'integrationist' image. They emerge out of long-term uneven historical processes. Finally, in a 'relational' image civilisations are believed to gain definition and institute developmental patterns through inter-societal and inter-cultural encounters. The book traces the history of semantic developments of the notions of 'civilisation' and 'civilisations' coextensive with the expansion of Europe's empires and consubstantial with colonialism. Early modernities are more important in the long formation of capitalism. Outlining the conceptual framework of inter-civilisational engagement, the book analytically plots the ties instituted by human imaginaries across four dimensions of inter-civilisational engagement. It also interrogates the relationship between oceans, seas and civilisations. Oceanian civilisation exhibits patterns of deep engagement and connection. Though damaged, Pacific cultures have invoked their own counter-imaginary in closer proximity to past islander experiences. Collective memory provides resources for coping with critical issues. The book also explores Latin American and Japanese experiences that shed light on the engagement of civilisations, applying the model of inter-civilisational engagement to modern perspectives in culture and the arts, politics, theology and political economy.

Open Access (free)
Ontologies of connection, reconstruction of memory

migration. Through voyaging and migration, islander societies expanded, creating and sustaining zones of engagement for millennia before Europeans came. Travel stimulated an imaginary of exchange, the second theme. Exchange cannot be understood with a utilitarian mindset; it is rather an expression of relationship, association and alliance –​engagement broadly speaking. The third theme is the new world context. European colonialism conjoined the Pacific to other civilisations in more extensive engagement. This was a violent and disordering historical experience for the

in Debating civilisations
Imaginaries, power, connected worlds

. Unprecedented waves of migration to and within the Atlantic world patterned the institution of American societies. Colonialism structured migration in Asia even more than in the second period. Tens of millions of indentured contract labourers moved. Some returned to their countries of origin; many joined new communities that became entrenched over time. Chinese and Indian traders were prominent in dealings with the new colonisers and lived in enclave communities of their own, whether within Asia and the Pacific or in southern or eastern Africa. Distinctly new migratory routes

in Debating civilisations
Chinua Achebe’s critique of cosmopolitics

. The same market economy that ‘frees’ Appiah works to ‘unfree’ non-metropolitan peoples.5 I want to suggest that Achebe’s Home and Exile subtly and powerfully implicates contemporary cosmopolitical thought in the historical violence practised by European colonialism in Africa. Cosmopolitan perspectives, for Achebe, are ultimately present-day expressions of the old ‘Pax Britannica’: the liberal story that Empire likes to tell about itself. That story Achebe began to explode with his 1958 classic novel Things Fall Apart, in which the colonial ‘pacification’ of the

in Postcolonial contraventions
Critique and utopia in Benita Parry’s thought

). Parry’s concern with socialist eurovision has intensified since then, as is evident in her forthcoming article ‘Liberation Theory: Variations on Themes of Marxism and Modernity’. But if in 1987 she was content merely to identify a problem, now we find she is concerned to analyse the problem of the left’s non-engagement with colonialism, locating as crucial the ‘shift away from the political’ in European Marxism that began in the 1930s. However, Parry’s politics of hope and her analytic rigour prevent her from blanket denunciation. She gets at the problem of European

in Postcolonial contraventions
Where and when does the violence end?

14 1 The unburied victims of Kenya’s Mau Mau Rebellion: where and when does the violence end? David M. Anderson and Paul J. Lane All over central Kenya, the bones are coming up. Travelling around the countryside of the Kikuyu-​speaking areas of these intensely farmed and closely settled fertile highlands, there are strange patches of uncultivated land to be seen: places where local far­mers have found the remains of their kith and kin, those who were killed during Kenya’s bloody rebellion against colonialism in the 1950s. At Othaya, where the bitter war raged

in Human remains in society
Open Access (free)
Uses and critiques of ‘civilisation’

-​century perspectives in turn have a pre-​history in the development of a vocabulary of related terms and a discourse around civilisations bound up with experiences of colonialism. Before illustrating the three kinds of uses of ‘civilisation’ and ‘civilisations’, I want to trace the history of semantic developments of the notions of ‘civilisation’ and ‘civilisations’ coextensive with the expansion of Europe’s empires and consubstantial with colonialism. Through this, we can see how the conceptual apparatus was implicated in colonialism and how it was mobilised in critiques of

in Debating civilisations

takes aim at the reproduction of essentialism that post-​colonial sociologists perceive in comparative studies of civilisations. Furthermore, post-​ colonial sociologists are explicitly critical of the comparative sociology of multiple modernities on the grounds that it fails to meets its own stated objective of going beyond Eurocentrism. Their critiques home in on how comparative sociologists have retained an unreconstructed notion of modernity incapable of reflecting the breadth of historical experiences of colonialism. Between the two fields there are significant

in Debating civilisations
Open Access (free)
Anne McClintock and H. Rider Haggard

to embody the threatening female power of generation, and bases this on the fact that Gagool is referred to `by her attendants as the “mother, old mother”’, and has the power to sentence people to death, as an isanusi (p. 246). This interpretation overlooks the fact that Gagool does not have a monopoly on Kukuana femininity. She is constantly juxtaposed with the young, beautiful and nubile Foulata, in whom the power of female generation is most clearly evident and does indeed explicitly pose a specific threat to colonialism: the threat of miscegenation. McClintock

in Postcolonial contraventions