Class Syllabus

We will focus on the world of “knowledge-brokers” – the Expert. We begin with Frederick Cooper’s reminder that the interaction of these knowledge-brokers produced “consequences that neither rulers nor ruled could anticipate, … [creating] lines of political connection more varied and complex than a dichotomy of superior and subaltern or the horizontal affinity characteristics of nationalism”. Our aim is to examine two central issues: the production of knowledge and historical memory about the colonial world, and the agency of those engaged in such productions. The hook is that we will focus on those who “walked” across the Orient – and their texts, their expertise, was used specifically for the colonial and imperial ordering of space and knowledge.

In concrete terms, this course is about walking and the relationship between Colonialism and Knowledge. We will look at a series of figures of “walked” over Orient and Occident and we will see the ways in which the created/shaped forms of knowledge and the means to which their words served. We will also conduct walks in Berlin.

The course will begin with a theoretical survey of the production of various knowledges about the self and other within imperial and colonial contexts – we will read selections from Edward Said, Bernard S. Cohn, Foucault, C.A. Bayly on Empire and Knowledge. We will read Walter Benjamin, Michel deCerteau, Tim Ingold on Walking. We will then focus on specific individuals – such as Thomas Coryat (1577-1617), Henry Blount (1602-1682), William Moorcroft (1767-1825), Richard F. Burton (1821-1890), Wilfred Thesiger (1910-2003) and Rory Stewart (1973 -). The last third of the class will focus on “counterflows”, non-colonial perspectives through the scholarship of Michael Fisher, Muzaffar Alam & Sanjay Subrahmanyam and the primary accounts of Mirza Lutfullah, Mirza Akbar Ali Khan and Dean Mahomet.

We will walk and talk for some time.

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