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Archaeologies of ColonialismConsumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France$
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Michael Dietler

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520265516

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520265516.001.0001

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Archaeologies of Colonialism

Archaeologies of Colonialism

(p.27) 2 Archaeologies of Colonialism
Archaeologies of Colonialism

Michael Dietler

University of California Press

The colonial encounter in the ancient western Mediterranean constitutes a seminal episode in the colonial process through which the indigenous peoples of the territories that would eventually spawn the dominant colonial powers of the modern world—France, England, Spain, Portugal, Germany—first became entangled with the Greco-Roman world that later would come to play such an obsessional role in the collective ancestral imagination of these imperial nations. Hence, this represents is a moment of pregnant significance for modern discourses of imperialism and anti-imperialism. This modern infatuation with ancient Greece and Rome stems from the Renaissance of the fifteenth century, when a new myth of European cultural ancestry was constructed. Not coincidentally, this was a period that also witnessed the first phase of the modern colonization of Europe beyond the Mediterranean. This chapter examines how the development and embellishment of this ancestral myth was linked both to the construction of a field of “cultural capital” marshaled in processes of class differentiation within European societies and to the production of an imperialist discourse providing an ideological engine for European colonialism abroad.

Keywords:   Mediterranean, colonialism, imperialism, colonial encounter, indigenous peoples, Greece, Rome, Renaissance, Europe, cultural capital

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