Posts tagged colonialism

The Unlimited Dream Company

dreams, colonialism, British Empire, culture, psychology, Aeon, history

“In an attempt to better understand their colonial subjects in those years, officials in the British empire undertook a curious and little-known research project: to collect dreams from the people of South Asia, Africa and the Pacific. The results were not what they expected.”

“Seligman struggled to impose meaning on his unusual archive. When he tried to establish universalities, exceptions and contradictions proliferated. And when he tried to draw sharp distinctions between the minds of Britons on the one hand, and colonial subjects on the other, commonalities asserted themselves. Even in a situation where researchers held all the power – with the authority of the imperial state behind them, and an elaborate theoretical structure setting the terms of the encounter – their subjects did not always follow the script.”

“Did colonial officials get what they wanted from these growing collections of Freudian data? Some results, to be sure, ended up in tendentious arguments portraying anticolonial politics as the product of mental illness. The language of ‘frustration-aggression’ reactions and ‘deculturation’ disorders allowed some British officials to suggest that calls for independence derived from inchoate expressions of anger and immaturity. Once again, however, a clear-cut vindication of empire through expert knowledge proved elusive. The same studies that furnished evidence of indigenous pathology could not avoid pointing to the damage inflicted by British rule: the crushing racial hierarchies, the lack of economic opportunities, the weirdly Anglocentric schooling. Some researchers even suggested that imperialism, not anticolonial nationalism, was the real mental disorder; they explained the behaviour of British colonialists in terms of status anxieties, sexual hang-ups, and feelings of insecurity.”


Decolonising Science Reading List

Medium, science, decolonisation, colonialism, history, narrative, reading list

There are two different angles at play in the discussion about colonialism and science. First is what constitutes scientific epistemology and what its origins are. As a physicist, I was taught that physics began with the Greeks and later Europeans inherited their ideas and expanded on them. In this narrative, people of African descent and others are now relative newcomers to science, and questions of inclusion and diversity in science are related back to “bringing science to underrepresented minority and people of color communities.” The problem with this narrative is that it isn’t true. For example, many of those “Greeks” were actually Egyptians and Mesopotamians under Greek rule. So, even though for the last 500 years or so science has largely been developed by Europeans, the roots of its methodology and epistemology are not European. Science, as scientists understand it, is not fundamentally European in origin. This complicates both racist narratives about people of color and innovation as well as discourse around whether science is fundamentally wedded to Euro-American operating principles of colonialism, imperialism and domination for the purpose of resource extraction.

Angola’s Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing the Problems With Digital Colonialism

internet, free access, colonialism, wikipedia, Facebook, hacks, piracy, freedom

Many on the listserv are framing Angola’s Wikipedia pirates as bad actors who need to be dealt with in some way so that more responsible editors aren’t punished for their actions. This line of thinking inherently assumes that what Angola’s pirates are doing is bad for Wikipedia and that they must be assimilated to the already regulated norms of Wikipedia’s community. If the developing world wants to use our internet, they must play by our rules, the thinking goes. But people in developing countries have always had to be more creative than those for whom access to information has always been a given. A 20-year-old developer in Paraguay found a vulnerability in Facebook Messenger that allowed people to use Free Basics to tunnel through to the “real” internet. Legal questions aside (Angola has more lax copyright laws than much of the world), Angola’s pirates are furthering Wikipedia’s mission of spreading information in a real and substantial way.

No, it’s not “cultural appropriation” to practice yoga.

Yoga, culture, history, appropriation, promotion, India, Hinduism, colonialism, dozenalism

Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga, published in 1896, became a best-seller and had a lasting impact on American culture […] Vivekananda’s yoga didn’t involve the asanas, or poses, that we know as yoga today, because asana-based yoga is a modern phenomenon—one that emerged from the Indian nationalist movement’s attempt to develop a distinctly Indian version of what was then called physical culture (essentially, physical fitness). The short version of this story, which scholars like Mark Singleton and Joseph Alter have described, is that Indian innovators combined facets of medieval tantric practices with elements from Indian wrestling exercises, British army calisthenics, and Scandinavian gymnastics. They called their system “yoga,” a word that previously had had very different connotations.

Media Lens - Mind Training

Happiness, consumption, colonialism, politics, society, hedonism, meditation, doing nothing, affluen

The contemporary version of happiness is not something that has simply emerged as a product of popular opinion - it isn‘t that society is just giving us what we want. Instead a particular version of happiness has been promoted very consciously for a very long time.–298539227/cogitations-archive/56-mind-training-part–2.html