April 20, 1999 – Alice Bullard: “Seminar: Constellations of Savagery and Civilization: Paris and New Caledonia in the Age of Imperialism”

Tuesday, April 20 | 4:00 pm | Oakes Mural Room

This seminar will discuss selected portions of Alice Bullard’s book manuscript, Constellations of Savagery and Civilization. Portions of this book have appeared in Cultural Anthropology (May 1997) and History and Anthropology (January 1998). The book focuses on the fundamentals of the civilizing process by examining the colonizing techniques deployed against two groups of “savages”: Parisians from France and Melanesians from New Caledonia.

“Savage destroyers of civilization” was the label fixed on the Parisian Communards of 1871 by defenders of the central government. Exiled to the Melanesian islands of New Caledonia, the Communards suffered the rigors of a carceral system designed to spread civilization through penal colonization.
There they joined another group of “savages,” the indigenous Kanak clans. The book explores the means of creating “civilized” and “moralized” subjects, as well as strategies of resistance and subversion. It discusses the varieties of “selves” encountered and produced in the civilizing process and the evolving role of morality in this period.
This presentation is one of a series of events in the Civilizational Thinking project, organized by the Center for Cultural Studies and funded by the Ford Foundation.