chapter  4
Representing the Margins: Colonial Art and Photographs in the Service of Depoliticisation
Pages 19

Achille Mbembe argues that one of the most important aspects of colonial rule was the way it was entwined with a civilising mission (Mbembe, 2001). Colonial rule was not the simple administration of people and things. Rule was exercised on the basis of a strange mixture of disgust, religious or capitalist fervour, fear and desire (for improving others, for native womensometimes men-for material wealth). Colonialism as a project of rule was “written by many hands”. I have shown the fear the British had for the unemployed coolie, their disdain for native systems of controlling labour and desire for the wealth that such systems obstructed, and their packaging of this whole project of rule as a means of achieving civilisation, progress and order. Others have shown the intertwinement of rule with sexual desire (Proschan, 2002; McClintock, 1995), with misogyny (Hayes, 1996) and with an everyday disproportionate and harrowing violence (Taussig, 1984).