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Monday, 18 April 2016
Colonial Agents

Siting Translation: History, Post-Structuralism and the Colonial Context,
Tejaswini Niranjana, University of California Press, 2015, page 34

The role of missionaries within a colonial context has been widely attacked in recent years. Niranjana writes:

The systematic collaboration of anthropologists, missionaries and colonial administrators in the non-European world, in being independent of the willing participation of "individuals", is characteristic of the workings of hegemonic colonial discourse.

Working with others, although purporting and, I would suggest, in many cases really seeing themselves - with pure motives - as independent of the colonial power, missionaries and anthropologists were inevitably sucked into the colonial mindset and corporate mission.

Missionaries, therefore, functioned as colonial agents in the formation of practices of subjectification, not only in their roles as priests and teachers but also in the capacity of linguists, grammarians and translators.

In their concern to fully present the Gospel, missionaries had to communicate and needed to do so effectively and repeatably. Hence their focus on language.

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0