The "colonial moment" in the lives of objects from the Swahili coast

Longair, Sarah (2018) The "colonial moment" in the lives of objects from the Swahili coast. In: Worlds on the horizon: Swahili arts across the Indian Ocean. Krannert Art Museum / University of Illinois Press, Illinois. ISBN 9781883015497

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Item Type:Book Section
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During the era of British rule on the East African coast, a number of British colonial officials, wives and other figures acquired significant collections of Swahili material culture. Such objects might be displayed locally and later taken ‘home’, others were despatched to museums in Britain or, in the twentieth century, exhibited in the newly-created museums in East African territories. This essay will focus upon the ‘colonial moment’ in the lives of a selection of such objects from the Swahili coast, including ceramics, the kiti cha enzi of the Sultan of Witu and the ngoma of the Mwinyi Mkuu. It will highlight the range of actors ¬– British, Swahili and others – who influenced these object journeys. These figures influenced how particular meanings associated with the objects were activated at different times, motivated by diplomatic, political or aesthetic concerns. I argue that tracing the diverse trajectories of these objects through time and space complicates our understanding of British engagement in the region while demonstrating how, during the ‘colonial moment’ in their histories, objects played a significant role in shaping imperial entanglements.

Keywords:Imperial History, Material culture, East Africa
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V140 Modern History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V254 East African History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:30840
Deposited On:09 Mar 2018 14:36

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