The book focuses on the relational dynamic between “masters” and “natives” in the construction of scholarly narratives about the past, in the fields of archeology, history or the study of religions. Reconsidering the role of subaltern actors that recent postcolonial studies have tended to ignore, the present book emphasizes the complex relations between representatives of the imperial power and local actors, and analyzes how masters and natives (and their respective cultures) have shaped each other in the course of the interaction. Through various vectors of intercultural transfer and knowledge exchange, through the circulation of ideas, techniques and human beings, new visions of the past of extra-European regions emerged, as did collective memories resulting from various kinds of appropriations. In this framework, the most important question is how these dynamic processes determined collective memories of the past in plural (post-)colonial – in particular, Asian – worlds, participating to the construction of national/imperial/local identities and to the reinvention of traditions.
Philippe Bornet and Michel Fuchs, University of Lausanne; Svetlana Gorshenina, Collège de France; Claude Rapin, CNRS-ENS.