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Out of Our MindsReason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa$
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Johannes Fabian

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780520221222

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520221222.001.0001

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(p.1) One Introduction
Out of Our Minds

Johannes Fabian

University of California Press

What travel meant when scientific explorers began producing knowledge about vast regions such as central Africa merits close attention, especially in view of the imminent danger of disembodied postcolonial theorizing. This chapter gives an account of the course this project has taken. It took years before the author realized to place his work in the context of colonial history. Knowledge of the colonial past was essential to understand, among other things, a problem that intrigued him: How did it come about that Swahili, a language which had its origins on the east coast of Africa, would emerge, in different variants, as both a tool of Belgian colonization and a “weapon of resistance”, as the common medium through which displaced labor recruits and other immigrants created spaces of freedom for the vital and complex popular culture first encountered in the sixties?

Keywords:   Central Africa, anthropology, colonial history, Swahili, travel, cultural anthropology

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