Title

Historiography and the Ethical: An Inquiry into the U.S. Postcolonial Relationship to its European Colonial Past

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

My inquiry is, broadly, a study of the relationship between ethics and historiography, in order to determine the US academy's relationship to its own European heritage of colonial practices. On one end, we encounter an Othering (stressing difference) between the US and its European history, which can be a treacherous denial considering the similarities in our practices to colonial logic. On the other end, we risk claiming "Western history" as our own, which becomes problematic when it obscures our own development from a colonial territory to the contemporary United States. This erases the history of subalternity within the U.S -those internal to the U.S. that do not fit into a European narrative of history are further marginalized. Either extreme creates a doubling perspective that selectively creates a history that invokes questioning the mythical trope of "Americanness," which has much been built upon the western constructions of modernity and the political-the pillars of colonial rule. Specifically, I am setting out to apply some major points made by postcolonial and subaltern studies to the American relationship to European colonial history. By discussing the limits of historicizing, and considering how power functions in terms of historiography, I will investigate the postcolonial relationship of the US to its European heritage, using texts from subaltern studies and beyond, including selections from works by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Ranajit Guha, David Lloyd, Donald E. Pease, and Michel Foucault.

Advisor

Leila Neti, Warren Montag

Department

ecls

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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