Negotiating the Colonial Encounter: Making Objects for Export in the Andaman Islands, 1858-1920

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Recent scholarship has identified the participation of colonized communities in systems of commoditization and tourism as a potential point of pragmatic and courageous cultural survival. This paper builds upon this notion, reframing the production of the object made for trade - a form traditionally associated with imperial hegemony - as an opportunity for the exercising of indigenous cultural and political agendas, and for the strengthening of community cohesion in the face of imperial imposition. British contact with the indigenous populations of the Andaman Islands, India (1958-1949) continues to be one of the most problematic encounters in imperial history, both in terms of persecution and forced labour during colonization, and in terms of the current near extinction of the Andamanese - a legacy of colonial contact. To attempt to conceptualize the agency of some Andamanese producers and traders is not to deny the skewed power relations of the British-Andamanese encounter, or the long-term consequences that have threatened indigenous survival, but this paper will explore how, even in the most devastating moments of imperial entanglement, the production of material culture can be sited as an action of agency, defiance, and community strength.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCraft, community and the material culture of place and politics, 19th-20th century
EditorsJanice Helland, Beverley Lemire, Alena Buis
Place of PublicationFarnham
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781409462071
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

NameThe histories of material culture and collecting, 1700-1950


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