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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume III: The Nineteenth Century$
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Andrew Porter

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205654

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205654.001.0001

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Cultural Encounters: Britain and Africa in the Nineteenth Century

Cultural Encounters: Britain and Africa in the Nineteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.665) 29 Cultural Encounters: Britain and Africa in the Nineteenth Century
Source:
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume III: The Nineteenth Century
Author(s):

T. C. McCaskie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205654.003.0029

Encounters between cultures are complex, ambiguous, and unstable transactions, simultaneously events in time and works of the imagination. Irrespective of disparities in power, cultural encounters between Britain and Africa in the nineteenth century conformed to the model just described. It is important to acknowledge this, for it is all too easy — but profoundly misleading — to equate the achieved territorial substance of the British Empire in Africa with a hegemony in areas other than the geographical. The British encounter with African cultures in the nineteenth century was never a direct, one-way road leading from London. At the start of the nineteenth century, Britain's presence in tropical Africa was narrowly confined to the-mainly West African-coast. The sheer number and diversity of African cultures that encountered the British in the course of the nineteenth century is bewildering. British and other European colonialisms incorporated African peoples into the ideological and materialist worlds of Western modernity. All African cultures are still negotiating dialogue with — and within — the implications of that fact.

Keywords:   cultural encounters, Britain, Africa, nineteenth century, hegemony, African cultures, colonialism

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