‘“… territorial acquisitions are among the landmarks of our history”: the buying and leasing of imperial territory’: a reply to Dominic Alessio
This chapter overlooks something important in his analysis of dispossession through treaty and transaction. Empire is not only violent in the traditional understanding of that term but is also a form of epistemic violence. Subject populations were framed as racially inferior, culturally inadequate, or morally dubious and thus unlikely to make the transition to modernity in ways that satisfied the agents of empire. It is in the multi-faceted, persistent, relentless interrogation of the worth of empire's many others, that proponents and practitioners of empire arrogate to themselves the authority to pass judgement upon those others and to find them, inevitably, wanting. Peoples and cultures with no history and no prospect of achieving one might also be regarded as having no interest in territory that need long detain a company or state that sought its acquisition for reasons of commercial advantage or geopolitical necessity.