By Michæl Dietler
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Extra resources for Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France
The same processes of institutional embedding that Marchand noted for nineteenthcentury Germany were in operation in England and France as well, albeit with certain variations appropriate to the different political histories and educational systems of these nations. In all three countries, a knowledge of and a cultivated appreciation for the “classics” became a powerful form of “cultural capital,” in the sense of Bourdieu,15 by which members of the ruling class (now essentially the wealthy bourgeoisie) were able to assert and embody their cultural and moral superiority.
For example, the terms colonization, colonialism, colonial, and colony all derive from the Latin word colonia, while imperialism and empire stem from the Latin imperium, civilization from the Latin civilis, and so forth. However, the meanings of these words have been significantly transformed as they have been applied over the centuries to a variety of modern contexts and processes. Reapplying them uncritically to the seminal ancient context poses the danger of importing modern meanings back to the past and implicitly rendering the ancient cases simply as variants, or prototypes, of the modern.
Whatever the relative Greek/Roman emphasis, what is strikingly clear is that ancient Greek and Roman versions of colonialism were seen as axiomatic points of reference for modern situations. As Richard Livingstone noted, “These ages, with which we have spiritual affinities and which have anticipated our problems, have a special interest and instructiveness for us. They are our Doppelgänger. ”48 This was no less true in the matter of colonialism than in other aspects of life. Examples illustrating the pervasive and symbolically powerful operation of such analogies are innumerable, beginning most obviously with the adapted terms of supreme rulership for the new “empires”—empéreur for the Napoléons, Kaiser (Caesar) for the Prussian Wilhelm, “Empress of India” for Victoria, czar (Caesar) for the Russian court.