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CHID 485 A: Comparative Colonialism

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
EXED 110
Joint Sections: 
Vicente Rafael

Syllabus Description:

HIST 485A/ CHID 485 B: Comparative Colonialism                  Autumn 2018

Prof. Vicente L. Rafael                                                                                      Office: SMI 116A

tel: 206 543 5699                                                                                      

Office hours: W., 2-3:30pm and by appt.


Course Description


What is colonialism and how is it related to the history of imperialism in the modern era? How have violent encounters between the West and the non-West—for example, by way of military invasion, Christian conversion, settler occupation, slavery and ethnic cleansing--also shaped such fundamental ideas as civilization, humanity, human rights, freedom and justice? How were these colonial encounters mediated by shifting notions of race, gender and property, and by technologies of communication and translation? Indeed, in the midst of the contemporary resurgence of empire in the form of globalization, do these categories “Western” and “non-Western” still make sense? What were and are some of the ways by which colonized people respond to their colonization, for example by way of collaboration, resistance or escape? What role does nationalism play in determining the limits and possibilities of colonial rule and resistances to it? Finally, how can we understand the re-assertion of and challenges to imperialism in the wake of 9/11 and the rise of “political Islam” as the most visible and problematic challenge to empire today? In addressing these questions, this course will examine a variety of historical, ethnographic and cinematic productions set in colonial and postcolonial contexts ranging from the Americas to Asia and Africa. In doing so, the course will treat colonialism as a world historical event whose effects continue to be felt just as its power continues to dominate.


Course Requirements:


Students are expected to attend all classes, complete the assigned readings for each meeting and participate in the discussions. The requirements for the class are the following:

  1. Complete the readings and when possible participate in class discussions.
  2. Complete a take-home mid-term (4-5 pages, 40% of your grade).
  3. Complete a take-home final exam (8-10 pages, 60% of your grade) to be submitted as an electronic attachment e-mailed to me ( .


Required Texts (Available at the University Bookstore):


Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., The Classic Slave Narratives, New American Library, 1987.


Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of       Nationalism, Verso, 1991 and all other later editions.


A Required Electronic Reading Packet

Available on the Canvas website for this class (click CHID 485A Autumn 2018),


                                                            Schedule of Classes


Part I: Colonialism and the Formation of the West


Sept. 27: Introduction: Colonialism and the Modern World.


Oct. 2: Continue with the lecture above. Read:

            Robert Aldrich, “Introduction: Imperial Overview” in The Age of Empires, Reader.

            Walter Johnson, “To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism and Justice,” Boston              Review, Feb. 20, 2018, in Reader.


Oct. 4: Finish with section above. Start with Part II below.


Part II: The Representation of Imperialism and the Imperialism of Representation


Oct. 9: Europe and its Others: Globalizing Ethnocentrism.

         Edward Said, Orientalism (selections in Reader). .

            G.W.F. Hegel, selection from The Philosophy of History, in Reader.

            Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, excerpt from The Communist Manifesto, in Reader.


*Oct. 11: Continue with above. Start reading:

Christopher Columbus, selections from Four Voyages to the New World, in Reader.

            Tzvetan Todorov, "Columbus and the Indian" in The Conquest of America, excerpt in Reader.

            Bartolomé de las Casas, “In Defense of the Indians,” in Reader.

Anthony Pagden, “The Legacy of Rome,” in Lords of all the world : ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France c.1500-c.1800, in Reader.


Oct. 16: Continue with above readings and lecture. Start with readings below.

            Michael Ryan, "Assimilating New Worlds in the 16th and 17th Century", in Reader

            Bartolome de las Casas, “In Defense of the Indians,”

            J.H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492-1830                                                          chapter 3, “Confronting American Peoples” in Reader.


Oct. 18: Continue with above.


Oct. 23: Michael Rogin, "Liberal Society and the Indian Question,” in Reader.

            Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal

of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (2006


Oct. 25: Finish with above lecture/discussion.

            Start with Part III below.


Part III: Gender, Race and Empire


Oct. 30: War and the Making of Imperial Masculinity: the case of the U.S..           

            David Killingray, “The Guardians of Empire,” in Reader.

James Laxer, “The American Empire” in Reader

Garreth Steadman Jones, "The Specificity of US Imperialism", in Reader.

            Stuart Miller, "The American Soldier and the Conquest of the Philippines," in Reader.

           Jeff Tietz, “The Killing Factory,” in Reader.

            Paul A. Kramer, “The Darkness That Enters the Home: The Politics of Prostitution During the Philippine-American War,” in Reader.

            Saundra Pollock Sturdevant and Brenda Stolzfus, “Disparate Threads of the Whole: An Interpretive Essay,” in Let the Good Times Roll: Prostitution and the U.S. Military in Asia, in Reader.

            Film: TBA.


Nov. 1: The Making of Imperial Femininity and Imperial Feminism:

Ann Stoler, "Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Gender, Race, and                  Morality in Colonial Asia", in Reader.

           Philippa Levine, “Sexuality, Gender and Empire,” in Reader.

Vron Ware, "Britania's Other Daughters: Feminism in the Age of Imperialism", in    Reader.

Gwen Bergner, “Veiled Motives: Women’s Liberation and the War in Afghanistan,” in Reader

Sara Corbett, “The Women’s War,” in Reader.         

            Helen Benedict, “The Private War of Women Soldiers,” in Reader.

            Film: “The Invisible War”


Mid-term questions to be handed out on this day in class.


Nov. 6: [Election Day] Continue with above readings and lecture.


Part IV: Resistances, Reversals, and Repetitions.


                       Nov. 8: The Slave Narrative as Prophetic Witnessing --

                                    Henry Louise Gates, Jr., Classic Slave Narratives, Introduction, pp.ix-xviii

            Harriet Jacobs, (aka Linda Brent), "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl", in Gates,

                                           Classic Slave Narratives, read the whole selection.


                                    Mid-term exams due in class on this day.


Nov. 13: Continue with Harriet Jacobs, “Incidents.”            

            Film: TBA.    


*Nov. 15: Finish with slave narratives. Start with the next section.

Nationalism I: the Deconstruction of Colonialism

            Start: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread              of Nationalism, pp.1-140.


Nov. 20: Nationalism II: Colonial Phantoms:

             Continue reading Anderson, Imagined Communities.

            Frantz Fanon, "On National Culture" from Wretched of the Earth, in Reader.

            Floya Anthias and Nira Yuval-Davis, “Women and the Nation-State,” in Reader.

           Deniz Kandiyoti, "Identity and Its Discontents: Women and the Nation," in Reader.


*Nov. 22: Thanksgiving. No class.


Nov. 27: Nationalism II: Colonial Phantoms:

             Continue reading Anderson, Imagined Communities.

            Frantz Fanon, "On National Culture" from Wretched of the Earth, in Reader.

            Floya Anthias and Nira Yuval-Davis, “Women and the Nation-State,” in Reader.

           Deniz Kandiyoti, "Identity and Its Discontents: Women and the Nation," in Reader.


Nov. 29: Continue with readings and lecture above.


Part V: In the Wake of 9/11: Imperialism Today.


Dec. 4: Empire in the wake of 9/11.

            James Laxer, “Cracks in the American empire” in Reader     

            Gordon Lafer, “Neo-Liberalism by Other Means: the ‘War on Terror’ at Home and Abroad” in Reader.

            Tom Engelhardt, “The Arrival of the Warrior Corporation”, in Reader        

Amy Kaplan, “Where is Guantanamo?” in Reader.

Carol Stabile and Deepa Kumar, “Unveiling Imperialism: Media, Gender and the War on Afghanistan,” Reader.

            Possibly a film, TBA.


Dec. 6: Faisal Devji, Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity, selections in Reader.


Final exam questions to be handed out on this day.

Dec. 11, Tuesday: Final exams due, 3:30pm by e-mail.

Catalog Description: 
Explores the historic roots and practices of colonialism throughout the world, focusing on the roles of nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and imperial domination. Treats colonialism as a world event whose effects continue to be felt and whose power needs to be addressed. Offered: jointly with HSTCMP 485.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:12pm