ymM's burkas, stoler's european paupers, arendt's barbarity
reading an article by ann stoler a few days ago, i bumped into a short list of prerequisites that dutch colonial government in sumatra set in 1884; to acquire european legal equivalence, one had to be 1-christian, 2-speak and write dutch, 3- have european upbringing and education, and 4-demonstrate a suitability for european society. not that unfamiliar i suppose. stoler says, early in the article, that one shouldn't take the politically constructed dichotomy of colonizer and colonized as given but as an historically shifting pair of social categories that needs to be explained. colonialism is made up of ever-changing rules and regulations, colonial control and profits always secured by constantly readjusting parameters of the colonial elite to delimit those who had access to property and privilege and those who did not.. hannah arendt, too, looks into the global imperialism when she's searching for a 'precedent in western history that might have eased the way for civilized peoples to embrace barbarity', as she puts it. then, one should look at today's barbarity as the continuation of a long process, arguably started with the spaniards' doings in the 'indies' in the 16th century. spanish/dutch/british etc idea of the emerging modern world described the roles each group had in its making, thus, being in the vanguard of setting the racial boundaries and race-thinking, emerged as a party to the state making process, imbuing, along the way, race with very modern and state related confusions: nations and religions, cultures and genes, colors and abilities etc. censuses, maps, museums.. colonialism, according to hannah arendt, required a 'superior caste of bureaucratic rulers who could find a peer wherever the union jack flew'. 'english' had to be a global phenomenon. however, most interestingly, not all the 'englishmen' were equal; they did not share the same possibilities in life. then race thinking also had to obscure these internal divisions; at the same time, though, it had to leave them in place. poor whites (for they too exist) set apart from the rest of the world by trivial biological and other numerous and ever changing set of criteria. how big is that burka to cover up all the sinister obligations of the world?